Kent Barton was a scholarship-honor graduate of the Layton School of Art in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1964. Following graduation he became an Art Director of Ave Maria Magazine, published at Notre Dame University. He was Art Director of Newsweek Magazine's Special Projects Division for two years before moving to South Florida in 1974 and becoming a designer and illustrator for the Miami Herald. From 1977 to 1985 he was Chief Artist at the Herald. His primary duties were to direct all graphics, illustrations, and cartoons for about 30 different sections and editions for the paper. His black and white scratchboard illustrations during this time won numerous national awards, and from 1981 to 1985 were nationally syndicated by News America.
Barton became the Art Director of Sunshine Magazine, the Sunday magazine of the Sun-Sentinel newspaper in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in the Fall of 1985. As Art Director, he took part in all story and headline conferences, worked with the editor in planning the weekly magazine, assigned all illustration and photography, designed the cover and editorial pages, and critiqued all color keys and blue lines prior to the final printing. He also illustrated an occasional story.
Barton moved to the Georgia Mountains to pursue freelance illustration in 1992. His scratchboard illustrations appeared in every Graphis Annual for eight years, and have been featured in Communication Arts, American Illustration, and Society of Illustrators annuals. Awards include two Silver Awards for Illustration Excellence from the Society of Newspaper Designers, and two Merit Awards from the Art Directors Club in NY. In 1995 Barton's artwork for Partnership For a Drug Free America garnered a medal in "The One Show." Barton also received two Addy awards from the Advertising Federation of America for illustrations which were used as promotions on Pepsi cans.
Barton currently lives and works in Virginia. His illustration clients include The New Yorker, Time, The Wall Street Journal, Reader's Digest, The L.A. Times, Crain's Chicago Business, The Weekly Standard, Pepsi Co., The Franklin Mint, Saatchi and Saatchi, and Parker Brothers, among others. In 2003 Barton completed work for the Wright Dunbar Interpretive Center, culminating in life size figures of the Wright Brothers for an interactive exhibit in the museum. He was also commissioned the same year to illustrate six portraits of sports figures, which are permanently displayed as metal plaques in the University of Oregon football stadium. Most recently, in 2005, a mural of his work was installed in the new headquarters of Liberty Pointe Bank in New York City.