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Lon Levin talks with Murray Tinkleman Murray Tinkelman is a legendary illustrator. I first stumbled across his work while I was attending Art Center back in the day. He was always featured in the Illustrators Annuals and always being awarded something Gold. I worked a lot in pen and ink in those days and he was the master of the “nib”. To quote his website “His illustrations have appeared in a variety of publications such as Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. Tinkelman has been commissioned by The National Park Service to do drawings and paintings of National Parks and Monuments and by The U.S. Air Force to be an artist-reporter on specific missions. He has had a one-man exhibit of his baseball art at The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York in 1994 and The United States Sports Academy in Daphne, Alabama in 1995. His work is represented in the permanent collections of the Brooklyn Museum, the Delaware Art Museum, the International Photography Hall of Fame & Museum, and the New Britain Museum of American Art.

I sat down with Murray a short while ago and we talked for an hour about many subjects. This is the first part of those talks which I will post over the coming weeks. This conversation is about his University of Hartford Master Class in Illustration

How does your program at the University of Hartford work?

We meet “nose to nose” three times a year. The students open the program with two weeks at the Hartford campus. We are all at the same motel. We have beautiful studios and facilities. The significant change to this program as opposed to my previous programs is I asked the teachers to not come in with a “one size fits all” assignment for the students. Remember, these are professionals. The mission is to find out where the students want to go. How they can do what they want to do but never had the opportunity.

Illustrator Murray Tinkleman

Illustrator Murray Tinkelman

Ok, so you meet three times a year, do they students do work in between?
No, they are having their work reviewed. Remember they are professionals and have jobs, families, etc. Essentially they do their work and we have extensive critiques when we meet. They can send work online or by mail, but we don’t discuss it in detail until we meet. The assignment is something like “historical illustrators”, meaning you choose a popular illustrator from an era between 1900-1950. You do a cover illustration of a significant figure of an era between those years in the illustrator’s style. An example would be an illustration of Bob Dylan for the cover of Rolling Stone in the style of Peter Maxx. Now the idea behind that is not to make an imitation Peter Maxx or whoever, but it’s the research of looking thru the artwork and seeing who they identify with and what makes the work tick. And by executing a piece of artwork in that general style it becomes a valuable experience.

How long is the program?

Two years and a third summer…and we’ve never lost a student. We have a thesis show at the end of the program at the Hartford campus.The installation is glorious, the facility is really first rate New York quality “hotshot” gallery. We do it in the summer…and the thesis instead of being a written tome, some high-falutin concept is a body of work, the thesis is about what the student has always wanted to do but never had the opportunity to. It’s where they want their career to move. For instance, Leslie Cober (Leslie Cober-Gentry is the daughter of legendary illustrator Alan Cober) did a wonderful concept called “Thumbsucker”, about a little girl who sucks her thumb. She did a children’s book on that concept and now she’s marketing it…I’ll bet she sells it! Other students might do prints of historical places in the country, 8-9 architectural sites. The thesis must be approved by me and another thesis advisor. The program has been a great success.

I will leave you all with that thought as it is a good place to stop.  More from my interview to come so keep following