Many of Murray Tinkelman’s former students share similar memories of the teacher who would be instrumental in launching their careers. What they recall is his tremendous enthusiasm and boundless energy.
“I first met Murray when he came to my school in Great Neck, Long Island,” says award-winning illustrator Peter DeSeve. “His slide presentation opened up the whole world of illustration. He was so passionate that his enthusiasm gave me the alibi I needed to pursue a career in the field.” After graduation, DeSeve enrolled at Parsons School of Design, where Tinkelman was head of the Illustration Department. “Murray was the fiercest proponent of illustration I’ve ever met,” DeSeve states. “He made it clear to me that I was in a noble profession.”
Chris Spollen and Joe Ciardiello, now both successful illustrators, rode the ferry together from their homes on Staten Island to classes at the High School of Art and Design. “I would probably be in the fire department right now if it weren’t for Murray coming to my high school, talking a mile a minute and telling me I could earn a living making pictures,” laughs Spollen. “Murray’s attitude was, ‘if I can do it, you can do it,’ and it was very infectious, very positive.” After Tinkelman’s lecture, both Spollen and Ciardiello decided to attend Parsons. “Murray was just inspiring to be around,” Ciardiello remembers. “We learned not only from what he said but from the way he handled his own career, how he found projects that were of interest to him and how he promoted his ideas.”
Murray Tinkelman is still busy promoting his ideas and maintaining a high-profile career. His many professional honors include Gold and Silver medals from the Society of Illustrators. Prestigious clients, including the New York Times, The Ladies’ Home Journal, American Heritage, and Boy’s Life, have commissioned his work, and his illustrations have appeared on landmark series of book covers for Ballantine and Pocket Books. He has written and illustrated children’s books, published articles on illustration, organized national shows, and been an active member of several professional organizations, all while maintaining his unmatched commitment to education.
Currently, Tinkelman is a Professor of Art and the Co-Director of the Independent Study Degree Program’s Master of Arts in Illustration in the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University. From a closet-sized office shared with colleague and former student Yvonne Buchanan, he runs an ambitious program and continues to guide and inspire students. “When I was in high school, I brought my artwork to one of those Portfolio Days, and Murray Tinkelman was there,” says Jennifer Szeto, a Junior at Syracuse, whose illustration “A Parody” is included in the 1999 Scholarship Exhibition. “His attitude was just so contagiously enthusiastic and such a boost. He was instrumental in my decision to attend Syracuse and to pursue my dream of becoming an artist.”