The son of Jerry and Gloria Jean Pinkney, Brian Pinkney was born in Boston in 1961. Both his father, an acclaimed illustrator, and his mother, an author, milliner, and silversmith, had their own studios at home. The Pinkney's did not pressure any of their four children to become artists, but focused instead on sharing the joy they found in art, music and literature.
For Brian Pinkney, art has always been a family activity. "When I was a child, my mother would pull out paper and we'd all start drawing. Soon drawing came to me naturally. My mother often found me in the corner drawing and would say, 'Wow, that's beautiful. Go show your father.'"
Eventually, Pinkney had his own studio, which was a converted walk-in closet, where he could do his art. This included sculpting figures out of pipe cleaners and sketching robots along the margins of his homework. He earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1983 from the Philadelphia College of Art, where his father had also studied. After working as a freelance illustrator for several years, he returned to college, earning in 1990 a Master of Fine Arts degree in illustration from the School of Visual Arts in New York City.
Working as an illustrator for a magazine art department, Pinkney met his wife, Andrea Davis, who was a magazine editor and writer, and the two were married in 1991. Besides the numerous other books Pinkney has illustrated, he and his wife have, together, created several picture books, from Seven Candles for Kwanzaa (1993) to a series of biographies of famous African Americans, including Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra (1998). He is also the illustrator of several highly-praised picture books including The Faithful Friend, and In the Time of the Drums.
Brian has won numerous awards including two Caldecott Honors, four Coretta Scott King Honors and a Coretta Scott King Award, and the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award. He has also been exhibited at The Art Institute of Chicago, Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, The Detroit Institute of Art, The Cleveland Museum of Art, The School of Visual Arts, and The Society of Illustrators. Published by Greenwillow Books, Hyperion Books for Young Readers, Little, Brown and Company, Feiwel & Friends, Harcourt Children's Books, Simon & Schuster, and Random House, Brian's work has also appeared in New York Times Magazine, Women's Day, Business Tokyo, Ebony Man, and Instructor.