I wanted to do a post to commemorate the great William A. Berry, who I recently learned just passed away.
Bill was an amazingly talented artist, illustrator, designer and teacher. He was also a close family friend.
Perhaps Bill will be most remembered for his much celebrated book, "Drawing the Human Form," which continues to be used in classrooms throughout the world. We used it at Parsons when I was going to school, although I already knew it well as it was on our family bookshelf and my father made sure I read it!
I still have my personally signed art school copy.
Bill studied at U of T in Austin, then got his MFA in SoCal and in Rome. He later taught in Austin, and was an early art director for the much hallowed Texas Monthly.
He illustrated for all sorts of publications, such as Esquire, the Times, etc., as well as a variety of books. He also did a fair bit of book cover design work. He ended up teaching at the U of Missouri in Columbia, becoming the chairman of the department, and that's where my family first met him when we lived there.
Later, when I was going to art school in NY, my father worked as the director of Villa Montalvo Center for the Arts back in California, and along with the job came an apartment there where my parents lived. I'd come home in the summers and stay there, and artists in residence would come and stay.
Bill and his wonderful wife Janet came out as residents for a few summers in a row, so we all got to spend good time together. Bill produced these incredible academic drawings while there. He made them using layered grids of colored pencil, almost like pointillism.
Bill also had many solo shows all over the world. He was a huge inspiration for me because he seemed like he was always pushing forward, trying new things, not afraid to fail, always questioning things.
He was also a very gentle and kind man, generous and smart and funny. We'll miss you Bill. Thanks, man.
An addendum: Today Cynthia and I ran our first half marathon. Before we started, I dedicated the run to Bill! It was a beautiful sunny day and the run went well, through Golden Gate park, the Haight and along the Pacific Ocean...although I'm a bit sore now...