rb illustration painting biography contact

b. 1962 in Okinawa to American parents

I am an illustrator, painter and teacher but that constellation of professional activity is always in delightful flux. I'm lucky enough to move freely from one type of work to the next. This is made possible by teaching, which encourages me to venture beyond the artificial parameters of any single line of work.

This website condenses a lot of activity. I've also set up a blog to share work in progress and ruminate on everything from the challenges of teaching to running in la città eterna. Check it out if you'd like to know more about me and my work.

I avoid a fixed stylistic identity as an illustrator, preferring to develop the most appropriate visual language for the content my pictures represent. Just as the vocabulary of a writer changes according to the message conveyed, my visual vocabulary remains malleable to best serve ideas and information.

Painting involves calling to order different kinds of relationships- formal/conceptual, explicit/implicit. My images are iconic, with communicative intent, yet my intentions are sometimes re-channeled through improvisation. I want my paintings to invite closure, ultimately prompting the interpretation of a broader audience.

I've taught talented students at Rhode Island School of Design since 1997. Pedagogically, I'm a generalist, preferring to encourage cross-disciplinary exploration of concepts, which are complemented by technical and practical experiences. In most of my classes media and technique are not prescribed, since my chief concern is with the dynamic conveyance of ideas and information, not the use of materials.


1997 - present
Professor, Illustration
Rhode Island School of Design
Department Head, 2005-2007

2007 - 2009
Professor and Chief Critic
Rhode Island School of Design's European Honors Program in Rome

1991 - 1996
Associate Professor, Graphic Design and Coordinator of MFA Program in Graphic Design
Department of Art, The University of Memphis

1990 - 91
Assistant Professor, Graphic Design
Department of Art and Design, Southwest Missouri State University

1985 - 1990
Adjunct Faculty, Communication Arts and Design
Department of Communication Design, Virginia Commonwealth University


Massachusetts Institute of Technology
David R. Godine, Publisher, Boston
Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble
Shep Brown Inc., Woburn, MA
Concord Academy, Concord, MA
Rhode Island Monthly
MIT's Technology Review
This Old House
The Oxford American
Memphis Magazine
Brown Alumni Magazine
Agenda Magazine
STYLE Weekly Magazine, Richmond
National Public Radio
Target Stores, Inc.
Hampton Inn/Promus Hotels, Inc.
PG Calc, Inc., Cambridge
EKMS Intellectual Property Management, Cambridge
Work/Family Directions, Boston
The Memphis Zoo and Aquarium
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Memphis
Regional Medical Center at Memphis
Towery Publishing, Memphis
Conaway Brown, Memphis
Shades of Gray, Inc., Memphis
Maxwell Communications Corporation, Richmond
Ellis Communications / WMC Channel 5
Sheraton Casino, Tunica, MS


2005 RISD Faculty Biennial, Providence, RI
2005 Small Tales, Valdosta State University Gallery, Valdosta, GA
2005 RISD Illustration Faculty Show, ISB Gallery, Providence, RI
2004 Four Illustrators, risd|works, Providence, RI
2002 The Summer Group Show, Peck Gallery, Providence, RI
2002 Robert Brinkerhoff: Recent Paintings, Bush Gallery, Providence, RI
2000 VCU Communication Arts and Design Faculty Retrospective, Richmond, VA
1999 Reflections RISD Museum Benefit Exhibition, Providence, RI
1998 Designer as Artist, Western Kentucky University Gallery of Art, Bowling Green, KY
1996 Designer as Author: Voices and Visions, Northern Kentucky University, Highland Heights, KY
1995 What Have We Here?, University of Memphis Art Museum, Memphis, TN


2003 Artist in Residence, Burren College of Art, Ballyvaughan, County Clare, Ireland
2002 Visual Arts Fellow, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Sweet Briar, VA
2001 Silver Medal Award, Council for Advancement and Support of Education (for the 2000 MIT viewbook)
2001 Visiting Critic, RISD European Honors Program, Rome, Italy
1995 Silver Certificate, Memphis Advertising Federation Awards (National Portfolio Day poster)
1994 Best of Show and Gold Award, Admissions Advertising Awards (1993 MIT viewbook)
1994 Gold Medal Award, Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (MIT recruitment package)


"Confessions of a Nicotine Junkie," National Forum, The Journal of Phi Kappa Phi (vol. 80, no. 2)

"The Art of Mentorship," National Forum, The Journal of Phi Kappa Phi (vol. 79, no. 2)

"Art, Armageddon, and the New Millennium," National Forum, The Journal of Phi Kappa Phi (vol. 78, no. 4) and RISD Views (Winter 2000)

"The Great Panacea," National Forum, The Journal of Phi Kappa Phi (vol. 78, no. 2)

"The Cracker Drawings" National Forum, The Journal of Phi Kappa Phi (vol. 77, no. 4)

"Hard Art is Good to Find," National Forum, The Journal of Phi Kappa Phi (vol. 77, no. 2)

"X Marks the Spot': Peter Stempel's Russian Houses," Number Magazine (vol. XI, no.3)

"Concerning the Spiritual in Design," ZED.3 (Spring 1997)

"Breaking the Nerd Barrier," HOW Magazine (June 1995)


©2008 Robert Brinkerhoff