Phil Hays was an award winning illustrator and legendary Chairman of the illustration department at Art Center College of Design, in Pasadena, CA.

Born in Texas and raised in Louisiana, Phil attended Art. Center College of Design starting in 1952. Three years later, he moved to New York to begin what became a highly successful career as a freelance illustrator.

Phil's clients included Rolling Stone, Esquire, Sports Illustrated, Cosmopolitan, and Redbook, just to name a few. In the 1970s he began a series of album covers for Columbia records. These included albums by Muddy Waters, Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, and Jerry Lee Lewis.

At the peak of his career, Phil abruptly quit the business to move to Los Angeles and become Chairman of the illustration department at Art Center. "There came a time when I was working nights and weekends, and thinking it had gone on long enough."

photo: Steven Heller
"So I pulled a Garbo and quit," said Hays in 2000, when he was awarded Art Center's prestigious Kubly award for lifetime achievement. "I gain tremendous pleasure in my students' work, as much pleasure as I found in my own... Being an educator is totally fulfilling."

Few people could have Imagined the impact that Phil’s arrival would have on the illustration department at Art Center and ultimately on the art world at large. Phil would go on to lead that department for 24 years, completely reshaping the curriculum from one that focused on technique to one that focused on ideas and creativity. The list of successful alumni during Phil's tenure is massive, as are the numbers of artists who cite Phil as one of the most important influences in their lives.

Sadly, Phil Hays passed away in October, 2005, at the age of 74 years. His work lives on.