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 Don Ivan Punchatz  (1936 - 2009)

About: Don Ivan Punchatz


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Lived/Active: New Jersey      Known for: fantasy illustration

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BIOGRAPHY for Don Punchatz
1936 (Hillside, New Jersey)
2009 (Arlington, Texas)

New Jersey

Subject to Copyright

Often Known For
fantasy illustration

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following information was submitted in April of 2006 by the artist:

PUNCHATZ, DON IVAN  (b. Sept. 8, 1936) American artist born in Hillside, New Jersey.  Upon graduation from high school, he received a full scholarship to the School of  Visual Arts in NYC.  It was there that he had the great opportunity to study with Burne Hogarth, the illustrator of the comic strip ”TARZAN”.  After leaving SVA, Punchatz went on to attend night school at Cooper Union School of Fine Arts.  During that period in the late 50’s, he worked in advertising as an assistant television art director and later worked for a company that produced animation and filmstrips.

In 1959, he was drafted into the Army.  While in the service, he worked as a medical illustrator and produced animated training films.  After his discharge, he secured a position as an art director for a national advertising agency in Pittsburgh, Pa.

It was in the years 1962-65 that he began exhibiting his personal paintings in local galleries.  And then in 1963, his work caught the attention of Darwin Bahm, an artists’ agent from NYC, who proposed that many of these paintings might be used as cover art for books in the genre of fantasy and science fiction.  He then went on to launch Punchatz’s freelance career by selling the reproduction rights to the pre-existing paintings and securing new projects from publishers.  Bahm remained on as Punchatz’s agent until he retired in the mid-90’s.

At first, Punchatz was known primarily as a paperback artist, producing science- fiction, fantasy and horror covers for Ace, Berkley, Dell, Avon, Macmillan, New American Library and Warner Books among others.  However, as his work became better known, he soon began receiving commissions from many national magazines including Playboy, Penthouse, Esquire, National Lampoon, Time, Omni, Rolling Stone and Boys’ Life.  Many of these commissions were directly related to science fiction and fantasy subject matter.  In addition to the editorial work, many advertising assignments were based on themes originating from these genres.

In 1970, he founded SketchPad Studio where a number of young illustrators began their careers.  Later, many of them went on to establish their own national reputations. It was also in 1970 that Punchatz began teaching illustration at TCU and has continued to do so for the past 35 years.  He has also been a guest instructor for Syracuse University’s Independent Masters Program since the mid-eighties.

Punchatz has received numerous professional awards for his work, including the prestigious SPECTRUM Grand Master Award in 1996.  His paintings have also been exhibited  at various museum and gallery shows that featured the art of fantasy and science fiction illustration.  Much of Punchatz’s work is in private collections, and one of his paintings is now in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery.          

Don Punchatz passed on October 22, 2009.

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