Synthia SAINT JAMES is a world renowned multicultural visual artist, award winning author and or illustrator of 17 children’s books, authored an autobiographical art marketing book, 3 poetry books, a book of affirmations, and a cookbook.
She is also popular keynote speaker and architectural designer who has garnered numerous awards over her forty plus year career, including the prestigious Trumpet Award, an Honorary Doctorate Degree from Saint Augustine’s College, NAWBO-L.A.’s Hall of Fame Inductee Award, Women Who Dared Award, and her book Living My Dream: An Artistic Approach to Marketing was nominated for the 2012 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work-Instructional.
She is most celebrated for designing the first Kwanzaa Stamp for the United States Postal Service in 1997, for which she received a History Maker Award, and for the international cover art for Terry McMillan’s book Waiting to Exhale.
In 2010 she was commissioned to paint two new awards. The first was created for the “Mosaic Woman Award”, one of which was presented to Dr. Maya Angelou on October 28, 2010 in National Harbor, MD. The second was created for His Excellency Nelson Mandela’s for a Lifetime Achievement Award from Africare, which was accepted for him by his daughter and grandson on November 5, 2010 in Washington, DC.
On the evening of Monday, May 23, 2011 at the Providence Health & Services Excellence Awards Dinner in Seattle, Washington an amazing $126,000 was raised from a Live Auction of Synthia SAINT JAMES’ art for the Sisters of Providence Mission in Chile. The amount was then matched by a corporation for the total of $252,000.
Dr. Synthia SAINT JAMES is currently booking speaking engagements, master classes and exhibitions for her 2012-2013 tour, which includes colleges and universities nationwide.
To book speaking engagements call 323.993.5722 or email
Synthia SAINT JAMES, international award winning artist and designer of the first United States Postal Stamp for the Kwanzaa holiday, has to date written and or illustrated 13 children’s picture books, 3 poetry and prose books, 4 children’s activity books, a cookbook, and a postcard book.
She is the recipient of The 2008 Woman of the Year Award for the 26th Senate District, and she has garnered numerous other awards including a Parent’s Choice Silver Honor, a Coretta Scott King Award, and an Oppenheim Gold Award all for her books.
On January 30, 2010 she received the prestigious Trumpet Award for “The Arts” in Atlanta, Georgia. She is the first painter to be so honored. This year she was also inducted into the National Organization of Women Business Owners - Los Angeles, Hall of Fame in March.
She received her first Honorary Doctorate Degree (Doctor of Humane Letters) from Saint Augustine’s University, Raleigh, NC on May 8, 2010 the Historically Black College where her foundation, The Synthia SAINT JAMES Fine Arts Institution, is being established.
She created an award for Africare which was presented to His Excellency Nelson Mandela for Lifetime Achievement on November 5, 2010, and she created an award for Diversity Woman Magazine’s “A Mosaic Woman Award”, one of which was presented to Dr. Maya Angelou on October 28, 2010.
Her paintings grace the covers of over 70 books, including books by Pulitzer Prize winning author Alice Walker, New York Times bestselling author IyanlaVanzant, and books by Terry McMillan, also a New York Times bestselling author whose books have been published worldwide in several different languages.
Barnes and Noble licensed her artwork “Brilliance” for merchandise, including tote bags and journals, in celebration of Black History Month 2009 to sellout audiences. So for Black History Month 2010 they released new merchandise, including tote bags, journals, and tumblers featuring her artwork “Butterflies Dream”.
Her architectural designs include a 150 foot ceramic tile mural for Ontario, California’s international airport, 6 - 9x4 foot elevator doors for a building in California’s State Capitol’s East End Complex, Sacramento, California, stained glass windows for the West Tampa Library in Tampa, Florida, and a 4x7 foot ceramic tile mural (inspired by Dr. Maya Angelou’s poem “On the Pulse of Morning”), commissioned by Gibson, Dunn, Crutcher LLP for Cowan Elementary School in Westchester, California. She was also commissioned to create the 3x6 foot painting that hangs in the Women's Center of Glendale Memorial Hospital in Glendale, California.
SAINT JAMES has completed numerous commissioned signature images for non-profit organizations including the International Association of Black Professional Fire Fighters (which hangs at the Vulcan Station in Brooklyn, New York), Children’s Institute International, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, the Harlem Book Fair, the United Way, and the National Education Association. She unveiled the poster that she created for the Center for Disease Control at the United Nations on World AIDS Day 2005, unveiled the original painting that she created for the Metropolitan AME Church (Harlem, NY) at the Schomburg in February 2006, and unveiled the 20th anniversary painting for the 100 Black Men of America, Inc. in June 2006..
In reviews her artwork has been described as “ebullient”, “bold”, “creates paintings that remind one of Matisse cutouts in their clear line and intense color” and “joyful”.
She was honored with the 2004 Woman of the Year Award in Education by the Los Angeles County Commission for Women and she is a proud recipient of The HistoryMakers Award. Fall of 2006 she received both the MOSTE Inspirational Women Award and the Samella Award for her artistry, and designed the 'We See You Award'. SAINT JAMES is also one of the women included in Dr. Cynthia Jacobs Carter’s National Geographic book, Africana Woman: Her Story Through Time.
She has created signature paintings for Children's Institute International's 'Project Fatherhood', Susan G. Komen for the Cure's 'Circle of Promise' campaign for which she now serves as a National Ambassador, and “Crowns” for Regina Taylor’s play Crowns.
She is a member of the cast of M.K. Asante’s latest documentary “The Black Candle” which screened worldwide, and she is also a member of the cast of “Breast Cancer Examined: An African American Perspective” which aired on the TV One Network.
One of her original paintings was donated to the permanent collection of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, New York, by the House of Seagram, and another original painting to Spelman College by Dr. Walter Allen.
SAINT JAMES, a self-taught artist and popular speaker, credits the creator and her ancestry (which includes African American, Native American, Haitian and German Jew) for her artistic gifts.
Synthia SAINT JAMES
Doctor of Humane Letters
P.O. Box 27683
Los Angeles, CA 90027/USA
Inner City Cultural Center, Los Angeles, CA - Theatre Arts - 1974-1976
Kilpatrick-Cambridge Theatre Arts School, Hollywood, CA - 1976
The Commercial Way, Hollywood, CA - (TV Commercial Course) - 1976
Dutchess Community College, Poughkeepsie, NY - Liberal Arts - 1968
Los Angeles Valley College, Van Nuys, CA - Liberal Arts - 1967
Awards & Honors
ACColades: A Tribute to Women Who Inspire Us - 2012, NAACP Image Award Nominee - Living My Dream: An Artistic Approach to Marketing - Outstanding Literary Work Instructional - 2012, Women Who Dared: Our Legacy & Our Future - 2011, Honorary Doctorate - Saint Augustine's University, Raleigh, NC - 2010,
National Association of Women Business Owners - Hall of Fame Inductee - 2010,
Trumpet Award - The Arts - 2010, Phenomenal Women Award, California State University Northridge - 2010, Woman of the Year for the 26th Senatorial District - 2008, A Tribute to Synthia SAINT JAMES Award, Home Depot Foundation & AEG - 2007, MOSTE Inspirational Women Award - 2006, The Samella Award - 2006,
Woman of the Year in Education, Los Angeles Commission for Women - 2004,
The HistoryMaker Award - 2004, Oppenheim Gold Award - To Dinner For Dinner - 2001, The Key to the City Award, Greensboro, NC - 2001, Second Baptist Church, Los Angeles, Literary & Visual Arts Award - 2000, National Parenting Publications Gold Award, Happy Happy Kwanzaa - 1999, Women of Vision Award, Black Women Lawyers - 1998, Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Award, Neeny Coming, Neeny Going - 1997, UNICEF Greeting Card Award - 1997, AT&T Entrepreneur of the Year, NAACP Legal Defense Fund - 1997, Treasure of Los Angeles - 1997, YWCA Silver Achievement Award - 1997, Gentlemen Concerned Service Award - 1995, Prix de Paris, Musee des Duncans, Paris, France - 1980
Partial List of Recent Exhibitions
California State University San Bernardino - 2012
Voorhees College, Denmark, SC - 2011
African American Fire Fighters Museum, Los Angeles, CA - 2011, 2010, 2009
African American Atelier, Greensboro, NC - 2010, 2001
626 Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, Seascapes Revisited - 2006
James E. Lewis Museum of Art, Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD - 2012
Museum of African American Art, Los Angeles, CA - 2008
626 Gallery @ Studio B, Los Angeles, CA - 2009, 2007
SAINT JAMES' artwork has also been included in International Group Exhibitions since 1980 in such countries as Paris, France, Seoul, Korea, Stockholm, Sweden, Quebec, Canada, and Poland.
Army Wives, Just Jordan, The Steve Harvey Show, In The House, Moesha, Martin, Hanging With Mr. Cooper, A Different World, As For Me and My House, The Sunday Morning Stripper, Pants in the Family, and Law Abiding Citizen. (Synthia SAINT JAMES and the Kwanzaa Stamp included in Final Jeopardy Question in College Jeopardy in 1998.)
Television Award Show & Partial List of Interviews
The 2010 Trumpet Awards, Living With Soul, Making It, Life & Times, Fox TV News, ABC TV News, KTLA TV News, PAX-TV, BET Shop and Screen Scene.
Television & Films - Acting Credits
Breast Cancer Examined: An African American Perspective, The Black Candle and The Kwanzaa Story.
Films & TV Commercial:
Drum, Emma Mae (aka Black Sister's Revenge), National McDonalds Commercial- Counter Girl/Spokesperson circa 1978.
Partial List of Periodicals
Licensing Magazine, About Time Magazine, Los Angeles Times Newspaper - 1998, 1997, Los Angeles Times Magazine - 1998, American Visions, Carib News, Essence Magazine, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Sister Sister, U.S. Art Magazine, and Upscale Magazine.
Can I Touch You: A Collection of Love Poetry (2011), The I Wills According to SAINT JAMES: Book One (2011), Living My Dream: An Artistic Approach to Marketing (2011), Synthia SAINT JAMES: A Book of Postcards (Pomegranate 2004), Essay in Tavis Smiley's How To Make Black America Better (Knopf 2002),
Forward to Who's Who Among African Americans, 13th Edition (Gale 2000),
Creative Fixings from the Kitchen (Persnickety Press 1998), Can I Touch You: Love Poems & Affirmations (Beckham Publishing - Audiobook Read by Synthia SAINT JAMES & Melba Moore 1997), Girlfriends (Peter Pauper Press 1996),
and Mother's Love (Johnson/SAINTJAMES - Peter Pauper Press 1996).
Enduring Wisdom (Sneve/SAINT JAMES - Holiday House 2003), Peace In Our Land (Hull/SAINT JAMES - Kids Creative Classics 2002), It's Kwanzaa Time (SAINT JAMES - Little Simon 2001), Alphabet Affirmations (Hull/SAINT JAMES - Kids Creative Classics 2000), To Dinner For Dinner (Mollel/SAINT JAMES - Holiday House 2000), Hallelujah: A Christmas Celebration (Nikola-Lisa/SAINT JAMES - Antheneum 2000), Greetings Sun (Gershator/SAINT JAMES - DK Publishing 2000), Happy Happy Kwanzaa (Hull/SAINT JAMES - Brassheart Music 1999), Girls Together (Williams/SAINT JAMES - Harcourt 1999), No Mirrors In My Nana's House (Barnwell/SAINT JAMES - Harcourt 1998), How Mr. Monkey Saw The Whole World (Myers/SAINT JAMES - Random House 1997), Neeny Coming Neeny Going (English/SAINT JAMES - Troll 1996), Sunday (SAINT JAMES - Albert Whitman 1996), The Gifts of Kwanzaa (SAINT JAMES - Albert Whitman 1994), Snow on Snow on Snow (Chapman/SAINT JAMES - Penguin 1994), and Tukama Tootles The Flute (Gershator/SAINT JAMES - Scholastic 1994).
Visiting Artist/Author Lectures & Workshops
For Arts Sake, Guild Theatre, Sacramento, CA, Coppin State University, Baltimore, MD, California State University San Bernardino, Duke University, Durham, NC,
Fisk University, Nashville, TN, Saint Augustine's University, Raleigh, NC, Bennett College, Greensboro, NC, Voorhees College, Denmark, SC, HCA Healthcare Corporation, Nashville, TN, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, LLP, Los Angeles, CA, Rust College, Holly Springs, MS, Tougaloo College, Jackson, MS,
Langston University, Langston, OK, Xavier University, New Orleans, LA,
Dillard University, New Orleans, LA, Saint Mary's Academy, New Orleans, LA,
National Geographic Society, Washington, DC, California State University Dominguez Hills, Bernard College, New York, NY, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, The Buckley School, Sherman Oaks, CA,
Sisters & Friends, Normal, IL, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Bloomfield, MI,
The Wesley School, N. Hollywood, CA, The Curtis School, Los Angeles, CA,
University of Ohio, Athens, OH, Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD,
University of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, VA, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, CA, Cleveland Public Library, Cleveland, OH, Tennessee Association of School Librarians, Nashville, TN, First People's Fund, Santa Fe, NM, Toyota USA, Torrance, CA, Greensboro Public Library, Greensboro, NC, African American Atelier, Greensboro, NC,
Natural History Museum, Los Angeles, CA, California African American Museum, Los Angeles, CA, Afro-American Cultural Center, Charlotte, NC, Los Angeles Valley College, Van Nuys, CA, The Baltimore Book Festival, Baltimore, MD,
Orange County Reading Association, Fountain Valley, CA, Neutrogena Corporate Offices, Los Angeles, CA, Black Women's Network, Los Angeles, CA,
Phenomenal Phemales, Phoenix, AZ, Winston-Salem State University, Diggs Gallery, Winston-Salem, NC, International Reading Association, San Diego, CA,
University of Redlands, Redlands, CA, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN, California School Librarian Association, Pasadena, CA,
California Arts Education Association, Palm Springs, CA, Japanese American Cultural Center, Los Angeles, CA, Rancho Santiago College, Orange, CA, DePaul University, Chicago, IL, Alabama State University, Montgomery, AL
Saint Augustine's University, Raleigh, NC:
Fall 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2011, Spring 2011
The Synthia SAINT JAMES Fine Art Institute at Saint Augustine's University
National Association of Women Business Owners
BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.)
Grant Panels Served On
First People's Fund - 2003, 2001
J. Paul Getty Trust Fund - 1992
Museum of African American Art, Los Angeles, CA - Spectrum: New Visions From Eight Emerging Artists - 2011
Museum of African American Art, Los Angeles, CA - Group Show - 2008
626 Gallery @ Studio B, Los Angeles, CA - Seven: Sisters In Spirit - 2007
Partial List of Collectors
Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr., Alice Walker, Glynn Turman, Brenda Russell, Jenifer Lewis, Charles Fuller, Regina Taylor, Randy Crawford, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Coca USA, Spelman College, and Essence Communications.
Partial List of Commissions
U.S. Postal Service (the first Kwanzaa Stamp), Glendale Memorial Hospital, The Center for Disease Control, Essence Communications, National Chapter of 100 Black Men, International Association of Black Professional Fire Fighters, Maybelline, Coca Cola USA, Regina Taylor, Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr., Barnes and Noble Booksellers, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and the House of Seagram.
65x8.5 foot Mural Design - 'Totem', WORKS, Los Angeles, CA, 4x7 foot Ceramic Tile Design for Cowan Elementary School - 'A Rock A River A Tree', Gibson, Dunn, Crutcher LLP, Los Angeles, CA, 3 - Stained Glass Windows (45x22 each approximate) West Tampa Library, Tampa, FL, six - 9x6 foot Elevator Doors for California East End Complex, Sacramento, CA, and a 2'8'x 150 foot Ceramic Tile Design for Ontario, CA International Airport (International Baggage Claim).