Sci-Fi & Fantasy Art, Design, Illustration

Artist F.A.Q.


Frequently Asked Questions

1. Where do you get your ideas from man?!

God gave me a good imagination, but also I have spent most of my life admiring the wonderful things of the creation, flora and fauna, rock, waterfalls, clouds, landscapes, from large animals, birds and fish down to minute insects. My homeland, the British Isles, is not noted for extremely bizarre creatures, yet my eye for detail has uncovered many interesting forms here. Even my designs for vehicles and machines often end up with an animal likeness. I fuse or exaggerate life forms, change the colour expectations, and enlarge or decrease the size of a creature out of context to its environment, but not becoming too abstract, thus retaining believability. National Geographic magazines are good for stimulating the imagination, and I have always taken my own 35mm reference shots whenever I am somewhere interesting.

2. How long does it take you to complete a painting?

This depends on the size and complexity of the subject. A small coloured picture averages one week, and a couple of days for pencil sketches, with a larger piece taking about three weeks. Some examples: 'On a Story Teller's Night'; ten days under pressure, 'The Fury'; three days under extreme pressure, Magnum's 'Sleepwalking' record cover; twenty-six days, and 'Fear no Evil'; nearly two months with various difficulties!

3. What artists do you admire?

Many of the traditional fairy tale illustrators such as Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac, the Heath Robinson brothers and Mervyn Peak. American illustrators, Norman Rockwell and Andrew Wyeth. Surrealists, M.C Escher and René Magrite. Psychedelic artists, Alton Kelly and Stanley Mouse. Movie artist, Ralph McQuarrie, and the best of the many fantasy and sci-fi artists including Frank Frazetta, Jim Burns, Alan Lee, and Brian Froud.

4. What art materials do you use?

Most of my mainstream fantasy and science-fiction art is painted with a sable brush and an airbrush using pigmented acrylic ink (Magic Color) on a hard surfaced art board (CS 10 or similar) which I rub down with fine sandpaper. My children's illustrations such as the Lavender Castle characters are done with sable brush and ink, but usually on watercolour board or something similar.

5. Where were you trained?

I entered The West of England College of Art, Bristol, England in 1960 completing a two-year course in commercial design. The subjects included life drawing, still life, plant drawing, advertising illustration, and basic lettering. Later, in 1962, I was employed by Ford's Creative Ltd.; an advertising agency based in Bristol. Since 1970 I have been freelance, first in a partnership company; Plastic Dog Graphics, Bristol, and from 1976 sole proprietor, though now my wife has become a partner in the business.

6. How did you get started?

I first became interested in art, and fantasy in particular, at the age of three or four years, when I delighted in my Father's drawings of various Disney characters, drawn directly on the walls of our sitting room! He encouraged me to do likewise, though not on the walls! The early Disney films such as Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland had a profound influence on me. Much later, after a secondary modern education in England, I found myself working as an apprentice in advertising. Someone said to me "I've heard you're quite handy with a brush", "Yes", I said. It was thus that I commenced my first job of sweeping the studio floor! But things have improved over the years, and now I use a vacuum cleaner. I managed to break into the world of fantasy & sci-fi illustration through getting acquainted with rock bands who required record cover designs (I played in a band myself from 1963 to 1974) and also having my poster designs marketed world-wide by the London based company 'Big O'. I am indebted to the British fantasy author Michael Moorcock for his help in bringing my work to the attention of his publishers. This led on to many commissions for paperback cover art.

7. Do you have a favourite among your pictures?

Obviously, some work better than others. The first ones to come to mind are: 'Sanctuary', 'On a Story Teller's Night', 'Be Watchful', and 'In Search of Forever'.

8. Are there hidden meanings in your pictures?

Occasionally, I include personal comments and there are other things that perhaps need to be explained, but I do not generally hide things, rather preferring to state things openly. My runes have no meaning other than that where it is obvious.

9. Do you hold exhibitions or sell originals?

I am not primarily an exhibiting artist, though I have had one man shows in London, Switzerland, Cardiff, Wales, and Machynlleth, Wales. I have participated in exhibitions in Czechoslovakia, Paris, France, and the U.K. I have sold around thirty originals, mostly through the Chris Beetles Gallery, London.

10. How many paintings have you produced?

Nearly five hundred in colour, about twice that number of pencil drawings, and a good number of logos.

11. Does music play a part in your work?

Yes, I am influenced by music as a way of stimulating ideas and as a working background. I remember well, my painting 'The Ice Spirit' from the Michael Moorcock story 'The Ice Schooner' was done to the tune of Mike Oldfield's Hergest Ridge!

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