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 Kinuko Y. Craft  (1940 - )

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Lived/Active: Connecticut / Japan      Known for: illustration painting-fantasy and fairy tale

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Ad Code: 4
Kinuko Y Craft
Turandot, winner of the Gold Medal from the Society of Illustrators
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:

BIOGRAPHY: submitted by Kinuko Y. Craft.  Revised Version 2/18/2006

"Kinuko Craft is a Renaissance woman. By this I mean not that she paints like the Renaissance painters, but that she is an artist for all seasons, for all kinds of subjects, and in all kinds of styles.  If you will survey her works, you will find little duplication in form, color or texture.  She fits herself to her subject with charming ease and yet leaves herself free to remain herself.  There is an air about all of her illustrations of one who is a true connoisseur of art, wide-ranging through all the countries of the world. One cannot help but think how delightful it would be to walk into gallery of her kaleidoscopic talents."
Ray Bradbury
Kinuko Y. Craft is a well known illustrator/fantasy artists in the United States whose career spans more than four decades.  She has become known for meticulous attention to detail, careful research of subject matter and a passionate love and knowledge of fine art and art history.  Her fairytale picture books are currently distributed in the USA, other English language countries, Europe, China and Korea.  She creates paintings for the book covers of many well known authors, and her art is widely licensed on calendars, posters, greeting cards and other consumer goods.  Her original paintings are in public and private collections scattered around the world: The National Geographic Society, Time Incorporated, The Museum of American Illustration in New York City and other corporate collections. Work in  private collections include those in New York City, Atlanta GA, Santa Barbara CA, Long Island NY, Dallas TX, Connecticut, San Francisco CA, Japan; and Greece.
Ms. Craft is a graduate, B.F.A. 1962, of  The Kanazawa Municipal College of Fine and Industrial Art (known in Japan as The Kanazawa Bidai).  She was born in Japan and came to the United States in the early sixties where she continued studies in design and illustration at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for a year and a half.  Subsequently, she worked for several years in well known Chicago art studios.  By the end of the decade her work was in wide demand and she had begun her long and successful career as a free-lance illustrator.  For most of this time she worked in editorial and advertising markets where her work regularly appeared in national magazines and newspapers.  Since the mid 1990’s, she has concentrated on children's picture books, fantasy book jackets and poster designs.  Her work is currently represented by Graphic Collectibles, an on-line gallery offering her original art and fine-art limited edition giclée prints. 
Kinuko Craft's work has been recognized by professional art and design publications, competitions and shows. To name a few highlights:

·       Communication Arts Magazine October 1981;
·       featured artist in Step-By-Step Graphics Magazine;
·       Idea Magazine (Japan) Seibundo Shinkosha 1989;
·       Illustration Magazine (Japan) Genkosha, #42/October 1989;
·       Cover painting for the American Illustration Annual;
·       A major article in Realms of Fantasy Magazine, 1999;
·       Artist Interviews 2003:  Locus Magazine, August 2002:

·       3DExcellence, an on-line magazine, March 2005: 

Other Publications:
·       Ninth Book of Junior Authors and Illustrators.
Collections: Paintings in the permanent collections of:
·      The National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian, Washington, DC (Collection of Time Magazine covers recently donated by Time, Inc.) 09/07/05

·      The National Geographic Society

·      Time Incorporated

·      The Museum of American Illustration, New York City  


       Other corporate collections.
·      Private collections in New York City; Kennesaw, GA;  Santa Barbara, CA; NY; Dallas TX; Avon, CT, San Francisco, CA; Oita, Japan; and Athens, Greece.
Medals and awards include:
·       5 Gold Medals from the Society of Illustrators NY annual exhibitions, including the 42nd in January 2000.
·       Hamilton King Award also from the Society of Illustrators, NY in 1987.
·       Spectrum 10 Silver Award: Books 2003.
·       Spectrum 9 Grand Master Award 2002.
·       Spectrum 8 Gold Award 2001.
·       Spectrum 7 Gold Award 2000.
·       Renaissance 2001 show, The Franklin Mint Museum. Best in show.
·       The ASFA (American Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists),  Chesley Awards:
        Best Product Illustration 2002.
        Best Interior Illustration 2001.
        Best Product Illustration 2000.
        Best Hardback Cover Award; 1998.
·       Five paintings, including a Silver Medal, in the Society of Illustrators, NY 1991 annual exhibit.
·       Four paintings, including a Silver Medal, in the Society of Illustrators, NY 1999 annual exhibit.
·       Silver Medal in the 1995 Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles show.

·      The 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan, Spring 2006.  Titled A Spring Night's Dream, over 20 works were displayed.

·      The Art of Der Spiegel, 2005 a traveling exhibit.

·      “The Spectrum Show.” The Museum of American Illustration at the Society of Illustrators, NY, NY Sept 7 to Oct 1st, 2005.

·      The Art of the New York Times, The Society of Illustrators, New York City, December 2004

·      “The Art of Der Spiegel – Cover Illustrations over Five Decades,” A traveling show in Germany and the United States, Nov 2004 through Jan 2006.

·      Women in Illustration: Contemporary Visions and Voices, The Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, MA, four paintings, March 6, 2004 through May 31, 2004

·      Illustrating the Sea. Group show at The Maritime Gallery at Mystic Seaport, Mystic CT, several paintings on a nautical theme. March 13-April 25, 2004.


·      The Society of Illustrators, 46th Annual Exhibition, New York City, NY, Editorial and Book show February 28 - March 27, 2004

·      “The Fantasies of Kinuko Y. Craft,” Norfolk Library, Norfolk, CT Dec 2002~Jan 2003.

·      “The Realm of Enchantment" The Franklin Mint Museum, US Rt. 1, Franklin Center, PA. January 16 through March 4, 2000. Over fifty paintings.

·      “Illustrating Women” Ringling School of Art & Design, Sarasota, Florida 2000.

·      “Masters of the Art of Children's Books” University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire 2000.

·      “Other Realms” exhibit at The Discovery Museum, Bridgeport CT.

·      “The Fine Art of Illustration” 1995, Hunderdon Art Center, Hunterdon, NJ.

·      “Women Illustrators in New England”, Radcliffe College, Cambridge MA.

·      “Brave Little Girls” The National Museum of Women in the Arts - an exhibition that traveled widely in the United States for several years.

·      “The Art of Enchantment,” The Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, MA also a traveling exhibition.

·      Other group exhibitions include: Cartoon Art Museum, San Francisco - “Visions of the Floating World,” 1992.

·       The Art Directors Club of New York - “New York 5” (Also a traveling exhibit in Japan) – 1988.
·      Musee de la Civilisation, Quebec, Canada.

·      A one-woman show at the Society of Illustrators, NY in 1983.
Fairy tale books:
·       The Twelve Dancing Princesses, Morrow Junior Books, 1989
·       Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Brave, 1994 Morrow Junior Books
·       Cupid & Psyche, 1996 Morrow Junior Books
·       Pegasus, 1998 Morrow Junior Books
·       King Midas and the Golden Touch, 1999 Morrow Junior Books
·       Cinderella, 2000 Sea Star Books
·       Tom Thumb, Sea Star Books 2001
·       Sleeping Beauty, SeaStar Books 2002.

Other children's books include
·       Mother Goose ABC, 1977 Platt & Munk
·       Bear, Wolf and Mouse, 1975 Follett Publishing
·       What Is It, Follett Publishing
·       Gingerbread Children, 1973 Follett Publishing
·       Come Play With Me, 1975 Follett Publishing
·       Cookie House, Follett Publishing 1978
·       Treasure Island, 1980 Rain Tree Publishers
·       Classics, 1977 Platt & Munk
·       Rumplestiltskin, Scott Foresman & Co.
Guest lectures, workshops
       Ms. Craft has guest lectured at:
·      The Washington DC Society of Illustrators 
·      Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA 
·      The Ringling School of Art & Design, Sarasota Florida 
·      The Stamford Design Conference, Palo Alto, CA
·      Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA
·      San Jose State University, San Jose, CA
·      Academy of Art College San Francisco
·      San Francisco Society of Illustrators
·      Community College of Arts and Crafts San Francisco, CA
·      School of Visual Arts in New York City
·      The Art Institute of Boston-1998 duPont Visiting Artist Series
·      Rhode Island School of Design
·      Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, where she has taught two summer workshop classes
·      Travel/Lecture with “New York 5” in Japan during 1989, including a traveling exhibit.

Personal Appearances:
·       Artist Guest of Honor. World Fantasy Con, Madison, WI November  2005
Judging’s and appointed positions
Ms. Craft has been called upon regularly as a judge at professional shows and competitions. Some of these include:    
·       The Washington DC Society if Illustrators
·       The Cleveland Art Directors Club
·       The Dallas Society of Illustrators
·       The Society of Illustrators of New York, various exhibitions
·       The Hamilton King Awards (Society of Illustrators, NY)
·       The Los Angeles Society of Illustrators
·       The San Francisco Society of Illustrators.
·       1998 Communication Arts Magazine Illustration Annual.
·       Member of The Advisory Board to the Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, MA.

·       The Society of Illustrators, New York City, NY, member since mid 1970’s
·       The Illustrators Partnership of America, founding member
·       American Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists (The ASFA), member
Her work has included paintings for:
·       Time and Newsweek Magazines
·       National Geographic
·       Forbes Magazine
·       Sports Illustrated
·       The New York Times
·       AT&T
·       Atlantic Monthly
·       US News and World Report
·       Playboy Magazine
·       Cover art for many major book publishers and advertising art for major ad agencies.
·       Her work has also graced posters for the Washington and Dallas Operas.
·       Ms. Craft now devotes most of her time to illustrating children's picture books and fantasy book jackets. She completed her eight picture book, Sleeping Beauty, published by SeaStar Books of New York City, 2001.
Comments on the work of Ms. Craft by major organizations and the press:
·       “A...major figure in contemporary American illustration.” Syracuse University.
·       “K.Y. Craft’s illustrations are wonderful fun.” Gahan Wilson, for the N.Y. Times Book Review.
·       " of today's most profound Renaissance painters.” CMYK Magazine.
·       “Her attention to detail is unflagging.” Publishers weekly.
·       “Craft’s oil on watercolor paintings are splendid,"… "exquisitely rendered.” Kirkus reviews.
·       “...lush illustrations...are sure to enthrall...” New Yorker Magazine.
·       "A consummate artist" School Library Journal.
·       “Craft's illustrations are almost unbearably sumptuous" INFONDA.COM
Kinuko Y. Craft resides in Connecticut with her husband Mahlon and her German shepherd, Wolfgang III. 
LITERARY AND MASS MARKET AUTHORS whose book jackets have been illustrated by Ms. Craft:
-William Shakespeare
-Sigrid Undset
-James Redfield
-Diana Galbadon
-Gay Courter
-Alison Weir
-Isabel Allende
-Dorothy Dunnet
-Carl Sagan
-Eileen Goudge
-Gita Mehta
-Antonia Fraser
-Barbara Wood
-Barry Lopez
SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY AUTHORS whose book jackets have been illustrated by Ms. Craft
-Isaac Asimov
-Stephen King
-Orson Scott Card
-Glenn Cook
-Sherri S. Tepper
-Ursula LeGuin
-Guy Gavriel Kay
-Robin McKinley
-Brian Aldiss
-Katherine Kurtz
-Sile Rice
-Tanith Lee
-Andre Norton
-Patricia McKillip
-Raymond E. Feist
-Pat O'Shea
-Marion Zimmer Bradley



Biography from The Parrish House Museum:
Kinuko Y. Craft Illustration Hall of Fame Induction Presentation
By Alma Gilbert-Smith,
              Founder and Director, Cornish Colony Museum Windsor, VT

I am forever amazed how truly portentous happenings seem to have such innocuous beginnings.  I had the pleasure of meeting Kinuko Y. Craft some years ago during a book signing of Maxfield Parrish catalogues for an exhibit I was curating at the San Diego Museum of Art.  When I raised my pen to inscribe the catalog for the next person in line, I asked to whom it should be dedicated.  A voice from one of the visitors waiting for my signature suggested:  “Why don’t you inscribe it:  To the goddess of illustration today!”

Needless to say, that piqued my curiosity and I raised my eyes to meet the woman that was being given such a sobriquet.  The lady was visibly embarrassed by the outcry from one of her admirers in the crowd who I later learned was a contemporary.  

“Inscribe it to K.Y. Craft, please” was her soft response.  

Little did I know that I would be curating an exhibit of her art at our Cornish Colony Museum some months later!  In preparation for her show at our museum, I began my research on this talented artist.  What I found bowled me over!  Here was a woman whose art had been used for covers of prestigious magazines such as Time, Newsweek, US News and World Report, Forbes, and New York Times Magazine. (1) Over a hundred of her illustrations have also appeared in national publications  such as Playboy, The National Geographic, Town and Country, Atlantic Monthly, Cosmopolitan, and Psychology Today.  Craft images appearing in serious articles have had the power to influence public opinion and perhaps define historic events, by inspiring and provoking thought.  Ms. Craft’s painting Justice for the thoughtful “Twelve Tough Muthuhs” that appeared in Playboy in December of 1978 comes immediately to mind. The painting shows Justice in a sweat because of Supreme Court issues at the time. She later altered the work, adding tears of blood for an exhibit in New York City, making the graphic even more powerful. (2)

Craft has also illustrated fairy tale and mythological books, as well as covers for science fiction stories by prestigious writers such as Isaac Asimov, Stephen King and C. S. Lewis to name a few.  Her work also graces the covers of books by many contemporary fantasy authors such as Ellen Kushner, Juliet Marillier and Patricia A. McKillip.  Psyche Weeping from the book Cupid and Psyche published by Harper Collins, won a Silver Medal in the Book Category at the 39th Society of Illustrators Annual Exhibition.(3) Covers for literary and mass market authors included none other than books by William Shakespeare, C. S. Lewis, James Redfield, Alison Weir, Isabel Allende and Carl Sagan.  

Several Craft paintings were commissioned as posters for major opera companies.  Among them Turandot executed for the Washington Opera House won the 35th Illustrator’s Annual Exhibition Gold Medal; Madama Butterfly now in the collection of the Society of Illustrators and originally commissioned by the Dallas Opera House also won a Gold Medal at the Society’s 38th Illustrator’s Annual Exhibition in the Advertising Category. (4)

Other major opera paintings by this illustrator include Aida, Das Rheingold, Gotterdammerung, La Boheme, La Traviata, Carmen and Manon Lescaut. These intricate and elaborate works have also become iconic and important examples of her art.  

She has been a guest lecturer at numerous institutions including the Rhode Island School of Design, the Academy of Arts College in San Francisco, the Art Institute of Boston and the Stanford Design Conference in Palo Alto, CA.  Ms Craft has received over one hundred awards, including gold and silver medals for illustration in competition with her peers.  Her work has been exhibited widely in the United States as well as in a museum exhibit of her art in Japan in 2006.  Her clients have included ITT for whom she created Queen Elizabeth, the work that won her the 29th Society of Illustrators Gold Medal award in the Advertising Category, as well as the Hamilton King Award. (5) Finally, and most important to me as a museum director, her work is in the permanent collection of several museums including the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian, the Museum of American Illustration and now our own Cornish Colony Museum.

As we travel through life, we see and understand courage, determination, rebelliousness and the willingness to do what you believe is right even if at the time you're the only one traversing that path.  Besides her considerable talent, I was keenly aware of the merit and courage it takes for a woman to succeed in a predominantly male enclave and the ability of this talented woman shone so brightly, I knew that a museum exhibit with us was imperative!

Did I see glimmers of Parrish and/or the Parrish influence?  Of course!  Was I enchanted with the images that transported me to untouched realms of the unfettered childhood wonderment of my youth?  Unquestionably!  What could drive a talent such as this?  Little by little as I learned about her through conversations and studying her work, I realized that the emerging picture of the future Hall of Fame recipient was that of a woman whose focus, curiosity, intense appreciation of beauty and attention to detail drove the talent that was so evident not only to its viewers, but to the professionals in her field.  In a recent conversation with her, Ms. Craft encapsulated the above:

    “I am a hopeless daydreamer and love to create my own stories within my art.  Ever since my childhood I have been attracted by the elements of timelessness and beauty that are created by light and shadow.  In all of my working years I have been trying in vain to capture and hold some small part of these mysterious and vague elements in my painting.”

Ms. Craft says she loves good stories, especially the kind of mythology, legend, folklore and fairy tales that express people’s hopes and desires.  She says:

    “I wallow in these like a pool of water with my brushes, colors and imagination, hoping I can somehow make them appear on paper, canvas or board.  My work is my language, my world, my total being.”

Currently, there are 246 members in Hall of Fame.  Howard Pyle and Maxfield Parrish were inducted posthumously into this prestigious group in 1975.  Both men were inspiration and guides for K. Y. Craft and now, she will join the prestigious gathering alongside her mentors during its 50th induction this year as only one of 14 women and the only Asian in this prestigious enclave.  Pyle said to his Illustration students at the Drexel Institute in Philadelphia:

    “Illustration is the breeding ground for the art of the 20th Century”,

It is right that it should thus be so that many of the illustrators in the Hall of Fame are now in the permanent collection of major museums around the country and the world.  It has been my pleasure and honor to own and display several of K.Y. Crafts original works in the Cornish Colony Museum where the works of Maxfield Parrish are on permanent display.  This year, Kinuko Y. Craft has been asked to participate in a major exhibit at the Cornish Colony Museum titled:  “The Power of Place:  Paintings that Define the American Image”.  Her landscape:  Mysterious Mountain for the cover of the novel The Tenth Insight will join the landscapes of stellar American artists of the 19th and 20th century such as Albert Bierstadt, William Bradford, George Inness, Maxfield Parrish, Willard Metcalf, Frederic Remington, and Andrew Wyeth.  Some of these artists started as illustrators and then joined the ranks of immortality when their art became acquired by museums and their deeds lauded in the permanent records such as those of the Hall of Fame.  It is fitting that Kinuko Y. Craft now joins their august company this year.  (6)

1 /Pope John/. K. Y. Craft. 1983. Cover: Time Magazine. June 27,
1983 issue.

2 /Blind Justice/. K. Y. Craft. 1978. Illustration for a magazine article in
Playboy Magazine on the Supreme Court titled Twelve
Tough Muthuhs. December, 1978.

3 /Psyche Weeping/. K. Y. Craft. 1995. Ill. Cupid and Psyche, Craft, M.
Charlotte. p. 25. Published by Harper Collins, NY, 1996.
Recipient Silver Medal Society of Illustrators (Book Category).

4/ Madama Butterfly/. K. Y. Craft. 1994. Commissioned by the
Dallas Opera Company.  Recipient Gold Medal Society of
Illustrators. (Advertising Category).

5 /Queen Elizabeth/. K. Y. Craft. 1985. Commissioned by ITT.
Recipient Gold Medal, Society of Illustrators. (Advertising

6 /Mysterious Mountain/. K.Y. Craft. 1995. Cover:
The Tenth Insight. Redfield, James. 1996. Published by Warner Books, Inc., NY.









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