Harry Pincus is an award-winning illustrator and fine artist. He was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1952, the only child of a free-thinking subway conductor and a creative homemaker. By the age of 10, Harry was making weekly speeches in the auditorium of P.S. 221, and his parents had separated. A radio actor for the N.Y.C. Board of Education (WNYE), Harry graduated from Wingate High School at the age of sixteen, and worked in back-office operations on Wall Street, only to resign the day before the Woodstock Festival in the summer of 1969.
At Hunter College, Harry was selected for the CUNY Baccalaureate Program, and produced a book of photographs and poems, "Acclaimed Stupendous", while living in a panel truck for six months and traveling 17,000 miles. The truck, a 1969 Chevy, had been purchased from a Brooklyn flower store and said “Say It With Flowers” across the doors. Two 16mm films, “Max et Meryem” and “Acclaimed Stupendous” (which can be found on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiXMS0gMNAo), were also produced during the CUNY Bac period.
Harry took part in the closing of Hunter College during the student protests of 1970, and continued his independent study program while living in Paris for a year. There he worked as a concierge in the old Parisian quarter known as Belleville, and ran his films at the Cinématèque Français (Jeune Cinéma Mondiale), wrote for the Paris Metro, and produced illustrations for Libération.
During these young radical days, Harry performed in a troupe called “The Revolting Theatre” founded by a member of the Fugs. Harry was living in a 1958 Chevrolet, purchased impulsively for $100 from a bereft horse player on a Brighton Beach street corner, when friends from Avenue C and 10th St. banded together to purchase a semi-abandoned harpsichord factory on Spring Street, in what later became SoHo. Having driven a cab in the South Bronx, loaded trucks all night for the Post Office, and worked as a messenger for a Park Avenue law firm, the 22-year-old Pincus was able to “invest” $4,000 to purchase a loft studio. Arriving in what was to become a luxurious neighborhood required living without water or electricity for a time in those early days.
After a stint as a $5 pen-and-ink portrait artist on MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village, Harry was “discovered” by a large crowd and, upon the insistence of his very surprised father, attended the School of Visual Arts for a year, studying illustration and etching.
Harry began working as a freelance illustrator in 1975, and was soon published with some regularity in the New York Times, the SoHo News, and even Screw magazine (launch pad for several distinguished New York Times art directors). A Pincus illustration of the Pope on the cover of the New York Times’ Week In Review was followed the next day by a Screw magazine portfolio of erotic drawings … (“Showing Pincus; The Raunch King of Pen ‘n’ Kink.”) In Paris, the editor of Le Figaro couldn’t understand how the same artist could work for both. Illustrations of Jimmy Carter for the Times provoked a request from the White House for distribution rights; and on one memorable night, some years later, Pincus illustrated the 1984 Presidential election cover of the New York Times’ Week In Review, as well as the historic New York Daily News’ “Ronaway” cover, simultaneously.
During this period, Harry could often be found selling etchings on Greenwich Village street corners, with a current newspaper illustration on display. As the stock market crashed in 1987, Harry just happened to be seated in the editor’s office of the Wall Street Journal, illustrating a dollar sign casting a shadow of a question mark. Several days later, while dining at the Four Seasons with several of the most powerful moguls of Wall Street, the former street artist was able to regale the otherwise sullen billionaires with tales of his Paris days, whilst realizing the folly of it all.
Over the years, Pincus illustrations have appeared in The New Republic, the Washington Post, thestreet.com, the Nation, the Washington Star, the Melbourne Age (!), and many more. Clients have included Lincoln Center Classical Jazz, the Lotos Club, Paul Stuart Clothiers, Niederhoffer Investments, AT&T, Foster’s Beer, MBNA Bank America, the Franklin Mint (Spoon River Anthology), etc. Awards have included Best Series and Best Single Illustration from the Society of Newspaper Designers, and citations from the National Academy of Design. Harry Pincus still lives and works in his original SoHo loft, with his wife and two children.