Artist Spotlight: Tim O’Brien

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Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

Tim O’Brien is an American artist whose realistic illustrations have appeared in national publications, including TIME Magazine, Newsweek, The Atlantic Monthly, Readers’ Digest, The New York Times, Playboy, National Geographic and more.

O’Brien’s Time Magazine covers are in the collection of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, and he has received multiple awards from a variety of organizations and publications, including the Society of Illustrators in New York and Los Angeles, Graphis, Print, Communication Arts Magazine, and the Society of Publication Designers. In 2009, he received the Society of Illustrator’s Hamilton King Award.

He designed postage stamps the US Postal Service depicting Judy Garland stamp and Hattie McDaniel, which were both issued in 2006. He is also the illustrator of the covers of the popular The Hunger Games trilogy.

My description is conceptual realism with a leaning toward the slightly idealized,” said O’Brien during an interview by The Illustrators Guild of Ireland in 2002. He was selected in 1999 and 2000 by Irish American Magazine for their list of top 100 Irish Americans.

Born in 1964 in New Haven Connecticut, he earned a Bachelor’s of Fine Art (BFA) degree from Paier Collge of Art, New Haven. He now lives and teaches in Brooklyn, NY.

His blog http://www.drawger.com/tonka/ often features the thought process behind his commissioned illustrations, such as Napoleon for Smithsonian.


Tim O’Brien Portrait by Tylor Heagy

Each week on the Pennsylvania College of Art & Design blog, a different profile of an artist is posted. These are taken from a classroom project where the illustration and fine art students create “Artist Trading Cards,” first researching the facts about and the style of a selected artist, then making a trading card that captures the spirit of the artist.