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Jonathan Kinkley

Jonathan Kinkley

Philanthropic advisor | Art Institute of Chicago | Class of 2003

Moreso than any column he wrote or editorial cartoon he drew, Jonathan Kinkley’s fondest Daily Illini memory is of a special guest dropping by for a one-hour pep talk in 2002.

As inspirations go, UI-grad-turned-world-renowned-author Dave Eggers still tops Kinkley’s list.

“I was starstruck by the former DI editor and best-selling author of ‘A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius’ and McSweeney’s founder, and the hour he spent with our editorial board left a huge impact on my life,” Kinkley (BFA ’03, art history) says from Chicago.

“Here was someone who had lived through a nightmarish experience, having lost both parents, and found his voice in writing and left a mark on the field. He was fun, quick-witted, brilliant and you could tell he really cared and was genuinely interested in us and our work.

"I could relate because I had lost a brother growing up and here was a guy like me from the Chicago suburbs who found great success through hard work and was forging his own creative path. He challenged me on my art and writing style, and gave me a thoughtful and wider awareness of my work that has served me well in my career to date.

"Now in my work at the Art Institute of Chicago and as founder and director of Video Game Art Gallery, I’m grateful for experiences like this that made believing in carving my own way a possibility.”