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Robert Hunt loves illustration. He’s an illustrator’s illustrator. An artist from the San Francisco Bay area, Robert has always looked upon the Society of Illustrators as holy ground. When word came down that he would be receiving the Hamilton King Award, I remember being filled with joy that an illustrator with such a unique and profound appreciation for the honor would be its recipient.

As with so many others, I first knew Robert only through his imagery, yet his sense of purpose and love for the art of illustration was expressed in the very fiber of his work. Over the past several years we have become close friends, and I’ve watched his infectious purpose and love of the craft inspire his peers and students to keep seeking much broader visions of illustration for their work. A professor at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco, Robert strives to shape the next generations of artists. He is unwilling to simply remain as a static, monochromatic voice. I can think of no better lesson for students, and no greater bond, than one that is made when both teacher and student strive together to reveal and expand creative potential.

Whether it is a portrait in Rolling Stone, a book for the Folio Society, the iconic DreamWorks logo, or creature design for hollywood films, few artists have taken their work from canvas to page, page to film, film to bronze, and on and on. Robert wields an insatiable curiosity and unparalleled abilities as a craftsman as he explores the ever-evolving forms that illustration is taking. His training, knowledge of, and proximity to many of illustration’s masters (such as Bruce Wolf and David Grove) place him on a higher ground, where he can see the challenges of the future without losing a sense of the past.

In 2012 Robert and I embarked on a mutual, lifelong dream of seeing Mount Everest up close and in person. A serious bout of altitude sickness forced Robert to stop short of his Base Camp goal. While regaining  his strength over the next several days in the Himalayan gem of Namche Bazaar, he produced a stunning series of oil landscapes. This, I felt, defined his rare devotion to the craft he loves. He never stops. He re-envisions. He keeps moving forward.

There is a wonderful photo of Robert and his close friend Kauhiko “Kazu” Sano, with their wives, standing in front of their first first works on exhibit at the Society. When I look at this image I imagine the work-laden walls of the Society quietly whispering words of wisdom in the artists’ ears. Obviously, they fell on fertile ground. The prolific and diverse body of brilliant work that Robert has amassed is testament to it.

– Brian Stauffer

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