I previously wrote about Richard Amsel's posthumous honor of being inducted into The Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame, in a special event held in New York last September 9th. Now that I've sorted through all my photos and transcribed the video footage, I wanted to share the poignant speech Alice "Bunny" Carter gave on Richard's behalf.
Carter, a renowned illustrator who serves on the Society’s advisory board, was also a friend and classmate of Amsel’s. I'll write more about her in the near future (I interviewed her the morning after the event), but for now, let me share her words about her late friend:
Well, hello everyone. This is such an honor to be here for Richard.
I met Richard in 1965 when we were both freshmen at the Philadelphia College of Art. And even back then at 17, we could all tell that there was something special about Richard. He was already a professional quality artist as a teenager, and you might think that that would intimidate all the rest of us. But it didn't. He was such a generous, nice person, that what it did was encourage us. So by the time Richard was about 19, he knew he was good. We knew it. We all knew it.
And so he came up here from Philadelphia to New York to try and get work, and he was immediately successful. Well, this encouraged all the rest of us, and pretty soon a group of us would join him on the train from Philadelphia to New York. And while Richard was getting jobs like the poster for Hello, Dolly!, people like me were working for Calling All Girls. But still, but still, it was very encouraging. And my classmate, Alan McGee, remembered that we got a little bit of a reputation in New York. And one of the art directors he was working for at Ballentine Books says, “And what are you eating? What are they feeding you down there in Philadelphia?” And Alan, his mind, he wanted to say “Hoagies.” He was too shy.
Richard would've been so honored his induction into the Society of the Illustrators Hall of Fame. All he ever wanted to be was an illustrator. He really thought it was important to create art that was for everyone. Good art – not just for people who could afford the kind of art that you buy from galleries – but things that could be for everyone.
The last time I spoke with Richard, he told me he wasn't feeling well. And he told me he was going to go out to Los Angeles, where the sun might help him. He thought he had some kind of flu. I don't know if he knew he had AIDS at that point and didn't want to tell me, because it only really had one outcome back then in 1985, or, or whether he really didn't know.
But he came out to California and he kept working. He designed a poster for Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, and I think that poster, it really shows what could have happened if he kept on going. He was, um, you, you began to really see his drawing ability as well as his design ability. I just wish he could have been with us longer.
His last published piece was a triple portrait of the CBS broadcasters for TV Guide, published by October 26th, 1985. And Richard died two weeks later. And I, I am sure – he was at the time, he was 37 years old –and I'm sure if, if I had asked him, he would've told me he was just getting started.
So I'm just honored to accept this award on Richard's behalf. Thank you.