commissioning paintings for the covers of books any more, preferring instead to use manipulated stock library photographs, which has meant, in my opinion, that all book covers are now beginning to look the same.
I guess I saw this shift change coming, so I decided to put all my energies into a vast project of my own, MoonAliens. I happen to love the moon, and wanted to somehow bring it to life, so set to work creating a magical “world” deep inside it, populated with hundreds quirky characters for a children’s collectables brand.
Meanwhile, around writing and illustrating MoonAliens stories, I am busy on some new paintings - bringing together both my love of nature
and the pure enjoyment of creating make-believe atmospheric landscapes, as well as a small series of British birds... back to where I started.
From as far back as I can remember, I have always held a deep fascination and respect for the natural world. As a child I would draw and paint as often as I could, mostly birds and mammals, from my ever-growing collection of wildlife books. During my mid teens, I presumed I would go on to art college to eventually be a natural history artist, but something happened around then - I had started to become an avid reader of science fiction.
From this point onwards, instead of badgers and bullfinches, all I could see in my head were strange alien creatures and the imaginary landscapes they inhabited, fueled particularly by the visionary literature of the likes of Larry Niven, and the fantasy masters Michael Moorcock and J R R Tolkien.
My mind was made up. I wanted to see my paintings on the book jackets of my favorite authors. It wasn’t easy escaping from the north, as I loved my home town Scunthorpe, but I was fortunate to be accepted at Kingston Art College, London where I enrolled to do an Illustration/Graphic Design degree.
Once college was over in the mid 1980’s and after many months’ hunting for work, I managed to get my first book-jacket commission - three in fact, the classic Pippi Longstocking novels by Astrid Lindgren. Over the next ten years, I illustrated many hundreds of novels - for most of world’s best known authors of science fiction and fantasy; a list that includes Robert Heinlein, Greg Bear, Isaac Asimov, Frederik Pohl, Charles Sheffield, Tanith Lee, George R R Martin and Arthur C Clarke... culminating in a compendium collection of my paintings being published, “Only Visiting This Planet” (Paper Tiger books).
For most of my paintings, I tend to use acrylic paints and inks, on CS10. This art board is no longer available to buy, but thankfully I bought up a huge stockpile to see me through my life. CS10, which contains kaolin, is the only art surface to absorb the acrylics I use for airbrushing my skies, which means I can glaze layers of translucent colour until I achieve the desired effect.
These days, yes, like many artists, I like to use photoshop yet I still prefer “real” paint and being messy. (I’m sure all us artists have blobs of paint on most of our clothes).
In recent years, I have found myself producing concept art for the games industry, using a much looser sketchy style than art I produce for book jackets. Sadly, publishers don’t seem to be