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Clif Tinker has lived all across the United States. Born in Virginia, graduated high school in California, and spent time in Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, and Texas. He has also lived in Copenhagen, Denmark, He earned his B.A. in psychology from the University of Houston in 1981. His first professional artwork was as a paid daily cartoonist in the University of Houston newspaper in 1985. He moved to San Antonio in 1985, earning a BFA in Painting from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 1992, and an MA in art history in 2001 from UTSA. His master's thesis is an analysis of the sculptural images, and a history, of the Aztec Theater in downtown San Antonio.

Tinker is both a working artist and an educator. He began his teaching career in 1986, working at the San Antonio Art Institute the last seven years it was open. He is in his 14th year of public school teaching, currently working at James Madison high School in San Antonio.

Tinker is a highly visible artist in south Texas. In 1993 he designed the nylon banners, known as "The Transition Game", to decorate the Alamodome for the San Antonio Spurs basketball team. At just over 80,000 square feet, this is the largest work of art in Texas. In 2003 Tinker designed the official poster for the San Antonio Public Library Centennial. In 2004 he designed "San Antonio Spurs Then and Now", a commemorative poster commissioned by the San Antonio Spurs to chronicle the history of the team for the season ticket holders.

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