Earl Bradley Lewis was born on December 16, 1956 in Philadelphia, PA. By the third grade he displayed artistic promise. Inspired by two uncles who were artists, Lewis decided he wanted to follow in their footsteps. After finishing the sixth grade, he attended the Saturday morning Temple University School Art League run by his uncle. Under the tutelage of Clarence Wood, a noted painter in Philadelphia, Lewis began his formal art training. He remained in the program until his enrollment in the Temple University Tyler School of Art in 1975. During his four years at Temple, Lewis majored in graphic design and illustration along with art education. There he discovered his medium of preference, watercolor.
Upon graduation in 1979, Lewis went directly into teaching, along with freelancing in graphic design. Between 1985 and 1986 he had completed a body of work which was exhibited in a downtown Philadelphia gallery. The show sold out and brought Lewis public recognition and critical acclaim. His work is now part of major private collections and is displayed in galleries throughout the United States. In addition to his sold-out shows, Lewis has gained considerable recognition for his illustrations, particularly for children’s books. In 2003, he received the Coretta Scott King Award for Talkin’ About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman. The book, Coming on Home Soon, written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by Lewis, was awarded the Randolph Caldecott Medal, the most prestigious award in children’s literature.
In 2013 Lewis completed 10 watercolor illustrations for Maya Angelou’s autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Most recently, he illustrated the book, “Preaching to the Chickens,” about Congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis' childhood. For this he won the New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book. Currently, Lewis teaches illustration at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and is a member of The Society of Illustrators in New York City.