Jillian Tamaki

The Suggested Substitution

Nov 18th, 2011

I think most working illustrators will find the finessed language in this letter, from Nelson A. Rockefeller to Diego Rivera, very familiar.

Dear Mr. Rivera:

When I was in the No. 1 building at Rockefeller Center yesterday viewing the progress of your thrilling mural I noticed that in the most recent portion of the painting you included a portrait of Lenin. The piece is beautifully painted but it seems to me that his portrait appearing in this public mural might very easily seriously offend a great many people. If it were in a private house it would be one thing, but this mural is in a public building and the situation is therefore quite different. As must as I dislike to do so, I am afraid I must ask you to substitute the face of some unknown man where Lenin’s face now appears.

You know how enthusiastic I am about the work which you have been doing and that to date we have in no way restricted you in either subject or treatment. I am sure you will understand our feeling in this situation and we will greatly appreciate your making the suggested substitution.

Nelson A. Rockefeller

Chills! Oh well, what do you expect, I suppose. The mural was destroyed (the painting above is a recreation at Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City). You can read more about that particular dispute here. You can view the actual letter, which I transcribed, at the Diego Rivera exhibit now on view at the MoMA.


Nov 11th, 2011

I’m looking for someone to help me in the studio for a day or two. Organizational stuff for the most part. In exchange, I will give you coffee, lunch, optional donuts, and will happily look at your portfolio if you like. Day/Time is flexible. Email me at jill (AT) jilliantamaki (dot) com. Position filled!

The above pinecones are from a job that got killed. Too bad. I quite like them.

Hello, Moto

Nov 2nd, 2011

Here’s a new illustration for tor.com to accompany Hello, Moto, a short story by Nnedi Okorafor. I did the cover to Nnedi Okorafor’s YA novel Akata Witch last year.

Thanks, AD Irene Gallo!


Nov 1st, 2011

This is an illustration from a few months ago that I forgot to post. It was for a short fiction piece in LA Magazine. If I recall the story was about taking the Metrolink train with a babysitter and passing all the rough parts of Los Angeles.

I volunteer weekly at a place and there were always two very cute little boys running around causing havoc. A strange bit of life imitating art: during the week I was working on this illustration the kids were abruptly uprooted by their mom who moved the family to Los Angeles– by train.

AD Byron Regej.