Jason Seiler, Celebrated Illustrator, Pioneering Digital Painter and Author to Receive 2015 Distinguished Alumnus Award from the American Academy of Art


The American Academy of Art has named former student and famed digital painter and illustrator Jason Seiler its 2015 Distinguished Alumnus Award winner.

Seiler, a Wisconsin native and longtime Chicago resident who attended the Academy through 2006, came to international prominence after digitally painting the cover portrait of Pope Francis for Time Magazine’s Person of the Year issue that was published December 23, 2013.


Impressive, Recent Work

While Seiler was a busy, accomplished artist prior to the Pope Francis Time commission, he’s been especially busy ever since. Commissions he received in 2014 include from the U.S. Postal Service to digitally paint a new series of collectable stamps featuring five prominent celebrity chefs. Twenty million of the limited-edition Celebrity Chef Forever® stampswere printed in September 2014. Seiler also released his third book, The Complete Artist: How to Succeed in the Creative Industry, by Mad Artist Publishing, in 2014. Last year he alsoreceived the Patrick Nagel Award for Excellence for the illustration he did for the Wall Street Journal, “Mother Can You Spare a Room.” Time also commissioned Seiler to paint its2014 Person of the Year runner-up, Massoud Barzani – the president of Kurdistan. And in October 2014, Adobe hired Jason to give the keynote address to more than 8,000 attendees of its Adobe MAX Conference in San Francisco.

Seiler will accept his Distinguished Alumnus Award during the American Academy of Art’s 2015 graduation program, happening at 3 p.m., Thursday, May 14, at the Westin Chicago River North. Seiler will share with the 2015 graduating class his work, career and insights about how to blend creativity, personal vision, self promotion and business smarts to succeed in a highly competitive marketplace.

“Jason represents the best traditions of this institution in terms of his artistry, technique and professionalism,” commented Academy President Richard Otto. “We are thrilled to honor him with this well-deserved acknowledgment.”

“I’m really humbled by this award from the Academy,” Seiler stated. “Although I was already working as an artist prior to attending the Academy, I really honed my technique and increased my confidence there. The school also helped me to prepare for the business side of things, which is critical to becoming an independent, working artist.”


Major Client List

Seiler’s list of clients is a who’s who of big-name publications and companies. He has been commissioned to create illustrations, paintings and characters for: The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, theNew York Observer, Rolling Stone, The Weekly Standard, Utne Reader, Der Spiegel, Billboard, Business Week, AD WEEK, Guitar Player, Revolver, The Village Voice, Penguin Group, Disney, New Line Cinema, Universal Pictures, Aardman Animations, Sony Image and many others.

Seiler had a major hand in shaping the characters for Imaginism Studios / Tim Burton’s 2010 film “Alice in Wonderland.” He designed The Red Queen (played a Helena Bonham Carter), the Bandersnatch, the Tweedles and other characters. He hopes to secure additional film work with Imaginism and other studios.

His long-term goal is to spend more time painting oil on canvas and have his work eventually hang in museums.


Embracing Technology

While Seiler is trained in traditional painting using oil, acrylic and watercolor, he taught himself to paint digitally and now uses a Wacom Cintiq, with a LCD pressure-sensitive screen.

“While I work primarily in a digital medium,” Seiler says, “I’m still first and foremost a painter.”

He has also taught and mentored hundreds of artists during the last 10 years via online courses. Seiler lives in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood with his two daughters and wife.





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