Michael Mucci, a beloved member of the Sydney Morning Herald for more than three decades and a long-time Stanwell Park resident, has died at the age of 57 after a battle with brain cancer.
The talented illustrator worked in the art department at the Australian Financial Review and The Sydney Morning Herald for 31 years before leaving in 2016.
Away from the world of media, Mr Mucci taught graphic design, illustration and sculpture at the University of Wollongong.
"Michael's engaging, thought-provoking illustrations were a much-loved addition to the Herald's journalism over 30 years. His large Herald family will miss him," editor Lisa Davies said on Wednesday.
Tributes from former colleagues immediately began pouring in.
"So talented, way too soon, such a lovely guy," one said.
Another described him as "one of the nicest and most talented people I've ever met".
He was the 2006 winner of the Archibald's Packing Room prize, for his portrait of builder and television personality Scott Cam, entering the competition more than a dozen times.
"We've known each other since going to school at Waverley College Christian Brothers, since we were in fifth grade at least 22 years ago," Mucci said of Cam at the time.
"I met him again at a school reunion. I have always liked what he represents and so I asked if I could paint him."
Mr Mucci was born in Italy in 1962, and moved to Australia as a child. He was a finalist in the 1989 Blake Religious Art Prize and the 1994 Doug Moran Portrait Prize.