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“What I found out is that just from drawing you really find out who you are… What you like… And what you don’t like. You start to think in terms of what interests you. I’ve always had a passion to sing and paint and that’s what I do.

I go to all the museums in the world because I travel all over the world. And I love to go the museums and see all the great masters. But I must tell you that I’m attracted to illustrators. I can’t believe the work that they do. They just strike me as magnificent thinkers.

I’ve been very fortunate. It took almost 45 years but I’m in a state right now of being completely free to sing whatever I want and to paint whatever I want. And I’m doing well with that. I’ve gotten away from people saying “Don’t do this” or “If you do this we’re gonna fire you”. I went through all that. And it was terrible. It’s almost like a fight for freedom… And I was able to attain that. So I hope it lasts for awhile.”

– transcript of Tony Bennett speaking at the Society’s bar, filmed for a short reel of the Society of Illustrators, presented at ICON 4 The Illustration Conference, 2005.

The Society mourns the passing of longtime friend and member Tony Bennett. Tony was a friend and fan of the illustration community and was introduced to the Society through Everett Raymond Kinstler (Kinstler would later go on to paint Bennett’s portrait that is now part of the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC).

Tony’s support and love in the arts was continued through his creation of the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, a high school located in his hometown of Astoria, Queens. Tony and his wife, Susan Benedetto, also founded the nonprofit EXPLORING THE ARTS (ETA) which helps run programs and provide support for the Frank Sinatra School. The Society is proud to be a participating partner in this important program and will continue his legacy through our mission.

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