Creating a moment that communicates emotionally with the viewer is the essence of Gregory Manchess’ artwork. A native of Kentucky, he earned a BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art & Design in 1977, but is largely self-taught in drawing and painting. He spent two years as a studio illustrator with Hellman Design Associates before striking out on his own in 1979.
Rhythm and timing, conveying emotion through brushwork and achieving a balance of concept and aesthetics are essential components of his technique. This has garnered prestigious assignments from an ever-widening list of clients. His art has highlighted covers for Time, National Geographic, Atlantic Monthly, and the Major League Baseball World Series Program; spreads for Playboy, Omni, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, National Geographic, and Smithsonian; countless advertising campaigns and book covers. For Federal Express he created five paintings for display in the company’s corporate headquarters, which were then reproduced and distributed as posters and greeting cards. He has also illustrated movie posters for Paramount, Columbia, and Disney; conceptual work for The Chronicles of Narnia. His portrait of Sean Connery was used as the defining climactic moment in Warner Brothers’ Finding Forrester. Manchess’ interest in history and his excellent figure work have made his paintings a favorite choice of the National Geographic Society on many occasions, including an expedition to the Fond du Lac river in Canada for the 1996 article David Thomson: The Man Who Measured Canada, and illustrations for The Wreck of the C.S.S. Alabama. Gregory has completed a large portrait of Abraham Lincoln and seven major paintings depicting his life for the new Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois.
The USPS commissioned Manchess for a current Forever Stamp portrait of author Mark Twain, made available in 2011. Recently, Gregory finished ten mural paintings for a National Geographic exhibition on an actual pirate ship. “Real Pirates: The Untold Story of The Whydah, from Slave Ship to Pirate Ship”will tour 15 cities over 5 years. Manchess’ work has also been recognized in the children’s book market. His first book, To Capture The Wind by Sheila MacGill-Callahan, was published in 1997 and nominated for a Caldecott Award, followed by Nanuk: Lord of the Ice, by Brian Heinz, released a year later. His second collaboration with Heinz, Cheyenne Medicine Hat, a story about wild mustangs, was released to wide acclaim in 2006. Other books include, Giving Thanks, 2003, and The Last River, 2006, and Magellan’s World, released by Mikaya Press in 2007.Other book work includes over 70 covers for Louis L’Amour novels and short stories. A lavishly painted limited edition of classic Robert E. Howard stories with 60 paintings has just been released in March 2010 by Wandering Star Press.
Widely awarded within the industry, Manchess exhibits frequently at the Society of Illustrators in New York, where he has won both gold and silver medals. His peers at the Society honored him with the coveted Hamilton King Award, based on an artist’s career accomplishments, in 1999. The following year they awarded him the Stephan Dohanos Award for the best illustration of the year by a member. The Society of Illustrators in Los Angeles awarded him two silver medals and a Best in Show Award. Artist’s Magazine gave him First Prize in their 1990 Wildlife Art Competition. He was featured inCommunication Arts in 1995, and featured in 1996, 1998, and 2000 in Step-By-Step Graphics. He has since appeared in many issues of the Communication Arts (twice featured on the cover), Step-By-Step, andSpectrum juried annuals. Spectrum awarded him a silver medal in 2001 and showcased a painting for their call-for-entries 2003 poster. He has exhibited in New York and Hong Kong, and in 1997 was featured in a solo exhibition at the Witham Gallery. Gregory is included in Walt Reed’s latest edition of “The Illustrator in America, 1860-2000.” Manchess teaches a week long, intensely focused, painting course along with 8 other artists in Amherst, MA known as The Illustration Master Class. He lectures frequently at universities and colleges nationwide and gives workshops on painting at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA.