Joe Ciardiello

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Joe Ciardiello
Born1953 (age 70–71)
EducationBFA, Parsons School of Design
New School
Known forillustration

Joe Ciardiello (born 1953) is an American illustrator. He works primarily in pen and ink on water color paper[1] and is best known for his work as a portrait artist,[2] for clients such as American Express, Barnes &, Capitol Records, The Folio Society, The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Rolling Stone, Smithsonian and Time.[3] He has received awards from the Society of Illustrators.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Ciardiello was born in 1953 in Staten Island, New York. His grandparents were Italian immigrants who settled on the Island and his parents were born there as well.[4] His father, Joseph A. Ciardiello was the youngest of four boys. He operated a dental practice in Staten Island,[5] but also had a lifelong interest in drawing.[4]

Ciardiello attended a Catholic grammar school and was accepted into the High School of Art and Design.[4] When Ciardiello was a senior in high school, he was setting his sights on becoming a cartoonist, until Murray Tinkelman came to the school as a guest lecturer. After hearing his lecture and looking at his drawings, Ciardiello decided that Tinkelman's approach as an illustrator offered more possibilities for him than cartooning. When he enrolled in the Parsons School of Design, it was as an illustration major. At Parsons he met his second important influence on his work, his figure drawing instructor, Jim Spanfeller through whom he learned a love of drawing in an expressive way.[6] Other instructors at Parsons included Bernie D'Andrea, Lorraine Fox and Maurice Sendak.[4] Ciardiello graduated from Parson in 1974 and received his BFA in 1975.[2]

Artistic influences[edit]

Apart from Tinkelman and Spanfeller, Ciardiello's early artistic influences came primarily from illustrators who were working at the time, such as Alan Cober and Leonard Baskin. Ciardiello also drew inspiration from the work of Egon Schiele, who was an early 20th century Austrian artist.[7]

Illustration career[edit]

Getting started[edit]

Ciardiello's work first appeared in print in 1974 during his senior year in college, in Crawdaddy Magazine, whose offices were a few blocks from Parsons[8] and which Rolling Stone credited with being the first serious journal dedicated to rock and roll.[9] The illustration was a black and white depiction of Lenny Bruce.[8] Another early client who published Ciardiello was Penthouse Magazine. Scholastic Magazines was also an early client for the young artist.[8] His first piece accepted into the Society of Illustrators Annual Exhibition was in 1975.[4]

Professional life[edit]

In the late 1980s, Ciardiello began work on a series of black and white drawings of his favorite jazz musicians, such as Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk and others. The drawings were compiled into a book, with poems by John Kruth, and art directed by Patrick Flynn.[4] The book, titled Like Jazz was published in 1992.[8]

After the publication of Like Jazz, Ciardiello began illustrating for the Capitol Blues Collection for Capitol Records,[10] which lead to 23 illustrated volumes,[11] including the first in the series T-BONE WALKER The Complete Capitol / Black & White Recordings (1995)[12] and the last in that series, CAPITOL BLUES #23: VARIOUS ARTISTS Chicago Blues Masters Volume Three (1997).[13]

In 1999, Ciardiello had a one-man exhibition of his works Portraits of Blues and Other Images at the Museum of American Illustration, which is housed by the Society of Illustrators, New York City.[14]

In 2016, Ciardiello won the Hamilton King Award, which is the highest award the Society of Illustrators can bestow to a member.[15] The award was presented on behalf of Ciardiello's work illustrating the book On The Snap by Brian Case.[16]

In 2019, Fantagraphics published Ciardiello's A Fistful of Drawings, a collection produced over the previous five years inspired by Westerns.[17]

Working process[edit]

When doing portraiture Ciardiello will gather as many photographs of his subject as possible. After this, he either draws sketches on tracing paper, which he places on a light box where the drawing is transferred to paper; alternately he will frequently go directly to a finished drawing in pen and ink, without preliminary sketches.[7] Ciardiello primarily works with a Rapidograph pen, and occasionally a dip pen, on watercolor paper.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Ciardiello lives in New Jersey with his wife artist Susan Blubaugh. He contributes original works for auction to support charities including the Drawing Dreams Foundation,[18] The Printing Center of New Jersey[19] and veterans charities.[20]

Ciardiello plays drums with the bands Kane Trio and The Half-Tones.[21] The Half-Tones is an all-illustrator band consisting of Barry Blitt, Richard A. Goldberg, Hal Mayforth, Robert Saunders, Michael Sloan, and James Steinberg.[22]

Selected illustrations[edit]

  • The Long, Strange Trip of Dock Ellis, ESPN[23]
  • Reimagining the California Condor, Audubon Magazine[24]
  • Portrait of David Hockney, SIC Magazine (Silver Medal Society of Illustrators)[25]
  • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 24th Annual Induction (program cover)[26]
  • Portrait of Eric Clapton, Playboy Japan[27]

Book illustration[edit]

Putnam Editions
  • Theodore Roosevelt by Sibyl Hancock, 1978[33]
  • The Great Houdini by Anne Edwards, 1977[34]
  • Buffalo Bill by Eden Vale Stevens, 1976[35]
Franklin Library Editions

These books, re-published from the original texts, were illustrated by Ciardiello:

World's Best Reading Series, Reader's Digest, 1990-1999

These books, re-published from the original texts, were illustrated by Ciardiello and distributed by the publisher to a mail order book club:


  • A Fistful of Drawings, 2019[39]

Compilations and annuals[edit]

Ciardiello has been represented in many books and art annuals, including:

Awards and honors[edit]

  • Hamilton King Award, Society of Illustrators, 2016[2]
  • Silver Medal, Society of Illustrators, 1993[42]
  • Silver Medal, Society of Illustrators, 2000, for portrait of William Burroughs[43]
  • Silver Medal, Society of Illustrators, 2006[44]
  • Merit Award, Society of Publication Designers, 2008 (with Jonny Hannah)[45]
  • Silver Medal, Society of Illustrators, 2012 for portrait of David Hockney[25]
  • Excellence for Book Series for 'Black White & Blues', Communication Arts 2012[31]
  • Stevan Dohanos Award, Members Open[46]
  • Best Illustration, Nevada Press Association, 2010[47]
  • 2014 Excellence in Journalism, Milwaukee Press Club, 2014[48]
  • Bronze Medal, 3X3 ProShow, 2012[49]


  1. ^ a b Donnelly, Kate. "Joe Ciardiello Interview". From The Desk Of. Retrieved 2016-09-25.
  2. ^ a b c d "Hamilton King Award". Society of Illustrators. Retrieved 2016-09-25.
  3. ^ "About Joe Ciardiello". illoz. Retrieved 2016-09-27.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Newman, Robert. "Illustrator Profile - Joe Ciardiello". American Illustration. Retrieved 2017-03-25.
  5. ^ "Joseph A. Ciardiello". Spaghetti Journal. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  6. ^ "Drawing Pens & Drum Sticks" (PDF). U&lc. 12 (4): 8–11. February 1986. Retrieved 2016-09-29.
  7. ^ a b Ardiff, Neil Francis. "Big Interview With Joe Ciardiello". Frail Friend. Retrieved 2016-09-25.
  8. ^ a b c d "Alt Pick Interview". Alternative Pick. Archived from the original on 2017-03-28. Retrieved 2016-09-25.
  9. ^ Fricke, David (April 30, 2009). "Rockers Reach Out to Pioneering Music Critic". Rolling Stone. No. 1077. p. 26. Cited in "Crawdaddy Founder Paul Williams Asks for Help". April 21, 2009. Archived from the original on April 27, 2009. Retrieved June 1, 2015.
  10. ^ Morris, Chris (June 3, 1995). "Calitol Goes to the Blues Vaults". Billboard Magazine: 97. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  11. ^ "Capitol Blues Collection". Willard's Wormholes. Archived from the original on 2016-03-22. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  12. ^ "CAPITOL BLUES #1: T-BONE WALKER The Complete Capitol / Black & White Recordings (1995) |". May 5, 2016. Archived from the original on 2016-05-05.
  13. ^ "CAPITOL BLUES #23: VARIOUS ARTISTS Chicago Blues Masters Volume Three (1997) – Includes James Cotton's Bizarre Todd Rundgren-Produced 1970 LP |". March 22, 2016. Archived from the original on 2016-03-22.
  14. ^ "Contributors". Los Angeles Magazine: 10. January 2003. Retrieved 2016-08-29.
  15. ^ "Hamilton King Award". Society of Illustrators. Retrieved 2017-01-28.
  16. ^ "Joe Ciardiello's Hamilton King Award". Caught by the River. Retrieved 2017-01-28.
  17. ^ Heller, Steven (2019-02-12). "Drawing Classic Old West". Print Magazine.
  18. ^ "Drawing Dream Foundation". Charity Buzz. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  19. ^ "The Printing Center of New Jersey". Retrieved 2016-09-29.
  20. ^ "52 Reasons to Love A Vet". Retrieved 2016-09-29.
  21. ^ Sasor, Shirley J.. "From Canvas to Stage". Hunterdon County Democrat. Retrieved 2016-09-29.
  22. ^ Gallo, Irene (8 September 2006). "Society Nights". The Art Department. Retrieved 2016-09-29.
  23. ^ "OTL: The Long, Strange Trip of Dock Ellis".
  24. ^ "California Condor". Audubon. September 16, 2016.
  25. ^ a b "David Hockney for SIC Magazine (The RED Issue) by Joe Ciardiello". November 19, 2012.
  26. ^ Democrat, Shirley J. Sasor/Hunterdon County (October 30, 2010). "From canvas to stage: three local artists play the blues in Kane Trio". nj.
  27. ^ "Joe Ciardiello illustration portfolios". illoz.
  28. ^ "Brief Lives". Folio Society. Retrieved 2016-09-25.
  29. ^ Popova, Maria (21 August 2013). "10 Rules of writing". Brain Picking. Retrieved 2016-09-25.
  30. ^ "Devil's Sinkhole". University of Texas Press. Retrieved 2016-09-25.
  31. ^ a b "Black White & Blues". Strike Three Press. Archived from the original on 2016-11-17. Retrieved 2016-09-25.
  32. ^ "On the Snap". Caught by the River. Retrieved 2016-09-25.
  33. ^ Hancock, Sibyl; Ciardiello, Joseph (1978), Theodore Roosevelt, Putnam, ISBN 978-0-399-61107-0
  34. ^ "The Great Houdini". Austin Public Library. Retrieved 2017-01-28.
  35. ^ Eden Vale Stevens; Ciardiello, Joseph (1976), Buffalo Bill, New York Putnam, ISBN 978-0-399-60983-1
  36. ^ Mann, Thomas (1979), The magic mountain (Limited ed.), Franklin Library, retrieved 25 January 2017
  37. ^ Oates, Joyce Carol (1980), Bellefleur (Limited 1st ed.), Franklin Library, retrieved 25 January 2017
  38. ^ Conrad, Joseph (1981), Nostromo : a tale of the seaboard (A limited ed.), Franklin Library, retrieved 25 January 2017
  39. ^ Ciardiello, Joe. "A Fistful of Drawings". Fantagraphics. Retrieved 2019-01-25.
  40. ^ "TASCHEN Books: All Titles (All Themes, All Prices, Sort by best-selling titles)".
  41. ^ Wiedemann, Julius (2005), Illustrations now, Köln Taschen, ISBN 978-3-8228-4033-7
  42. ^ "Illustrators 34". Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  43. ^ "Illustrators 41". Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  44. ^ "Illustrators 48". Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  45. ^ "Texas Monthly". SPD. Retrieved 2016-09-29.
  46. ^ "Members Open". Society of Illustrators. Archived from the original on 2016-10-23. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  47. ^ "Nevada Press Association". Las Vegas Review Journal. 19 September 2010. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  48. ^ "2014 Excellence in Journalism Awardees". Milwaukee Press Club. 20 March 2015. Retrieved 2016-09-29.
  49. ^ "3x3 ProShow Winners Announced". 3X3 Magazine. Retrieved 2016-08-29.

External links[edit]