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Mark English

Illustration Academy founder · Industry Legend

1933 - 2019


Mark F. English passed away peacefully after a brief illness in Kansas City on August 8, 2019.

He was born September 19, 1933 in Hubbard, Texas, to Bernice (Bethke) and Jack Howard English.

Drawing had always come naturally to Mark, but growing up in Texas meant picking cotton in the hot sun. “I got out of the cotton fields by learning to paint signs,” he once said. “I chased rodeos and painted bucking broncs and ‘Welcome Rodeo Fans’ on store windows… I had nowhere to go but up.”

After graduating from Hubbard High School in 1951, Mark attended the University of Texas until he was drafted into the military during the Korean War. Shortly thereafter, Mark married his high school sweetheart, Peggy Ann Littlejohn, in 1954. Together they raised their children Donna, Stephanie, and John in California, Michigan, Connecticut, and Kansas.

In 1960, Mark graduated with honors from The Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, with a BFA in Advertising Design.

After working at advertising agencies for the automotive industry in Detroit, Mark moved his family to Connecticut in 1964. There he began his rise as one of America's top illustrators, working with some of the largest publishers from around the globe.

Honors and awards came quickly and often. Throughout his career, Mark was one of the leading illustrators in the United States and abroad. His unique style was easily recognizable in such publications as TIME, Sports Illustrated, Redbook, Atlantic Monthly, Rolling Stone, and many other corporate and pharmaceutical publications. He designed 14 stamps for the U.S. Postal Service, movie posters and album covers for John Denver, Julian Lennon, and The Who.

In 1977, Hallmark Cards offered Mark an Artist-in-Residency to teach classes to its creative staff in Kansas City. It was there that he met his second wife, Wendy Buskey. They were married in 1983 and had two daughters, Emily and Sarah. Also in 1983, Mark was elected to The New York Society of Illustrators’ Hall of Fame, joining the ranks of such notables as Norman Rockwell, N.C. Wyeth, Winslow Homer, Bernie Fuchs, and Jessie Wilcox Smith. He was one of the most awarded illustrators in the history of the Society of Illustrators.

Mark never stopped challenging himself, and his work never stopped evolving. He retired from illustration in the early 1990s to become a fine artist and successfully exhibited his work in galleries and exhibitions around the United States and abroad.

In 1995, he and his son John co-founded the Illustration Academy, a workshop offering drawing, design, and painting classes to skilled students and professionals. Now in its 25th year, the faculty consists of the very best illustrators, concept artists and painters in the US and has attracted students from around the world.

In 2001, Mark was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from The Academy of Art University, San Francisco.

Mark was preceded in death by his parents, Jack and Bernice; his brothers Jack, Robert, and Albert; and his sister Polly, dear granddaughter Anousha Shirazi, and loving grandson Austin English. His surviving brother Bill resides in Texas. He is also survived by his wife of 36 years, Wendy; children Donna English, Stephanie Shirazi (Ali), John English (Marcia), Emily Johnson (Ryan), and Sarah English (Michael Saldarriaga); grandchildren Rachel Humphrey (Scott), Matt English, Cailin Norris, Bella Shirazi, Max Johnson, and Ava Johnson; along with numerous nieces, nephews, dear friends, and countless admirers.

A prolific and visionary artist, Mark leaves behind a stunning body of work spanning six decades, but his true legacy is as a loving husband, father, grandfather, and friend.