Saving the Arkship

I spent a lot of time last year working on graphics for an interactive, voice-led science fiction mobile adventure game, Saving the Arkship. Working alongside writer Jaine Fenn and producers Panivox, I created over 50 different graphics – environments, characters and other elements. It’s available now via the @RichCastApp app:


Here is my cover illustration and design for the forthcoming digital publication from John Collier (and myself) about classic Doctor Who exhibitions. This time, it’s the exhibition at Longleat House in Wiltshire, and we’re focusing on 1983, and the infamous “Celebration” event which commemorated the show’s twentieth anniversary. Like our previous books, Longing for Longleat will be a free download in PDF format, available from 1st April (really!).

This cover was quite challenging, as we wanted to continue the same style as Blackpool Remembered, but showing both something which represented the Longleat exhibition and the “Celebration” event as well as fandom.

Music – streaming news

This is The Light Dreams

Having had my music on streaming platforms for a couple of years now, over the past year, I have been pleased to finally see a significant increase in plays and my work reaching new listeners in various different countries. There is now an official Spotify editorial playlist – This is The Light Dreams – for my music, so if you’re a Spotify user, likes, shares and listens are always appreciated!

Stream This is The Light Dreams

Sentient City – 2022 mix

The next album from my back catalogue to appear on streaming services will be Sentient City, which was originally composed in 2014 and released on Bandcamp in January 2015. I have given all twelve tracks a new mix, many now featuring new drum parts and other improvements in both the mix and instrumentation, which fuses rock and electronic styles.

Science fiction, architecture and the different levels of society within a big city all formed part of my thinking for Sentient City, which can be interpreted as contemporary or futuristic. This updated version of the album will be exclusive to streaming services.

Sentient City will be available on Apple Music, Spotify and Tidal from Monday 23rd January 2023.

Empire’s Child

Here is my illustration and design for Empire’s Child, the début science fiction novel by Nick Lewis.

Nick’s work has previously featured in the two Visionary anthologies published by the British Interplanetary Society, to which I also provided the cover art.

The ebook and paperback editions of Empire’s Child is now available for pre-order on Amazon.

Humanity is old. Long, long ago It re-engineered the Galaxy for its own convenience. Empires have risen, empires have fallen. Technologies close to magic have come and gone.

But the need for cabbages remains. Threnador is one of the poor agricultural worlds supplying food to the richer worlds of the Confraternity, until, one day, Time stops on Threnador. All trade with the Galaxy ceases.

A young woman, Mihana, tries to find out why. Befriending an intelligent, shape-shifting craft, she flies it across her world and beyond. Ride with her and uncover the truth behind a three-thousand-year-old chase whose consequences have shaped her life, and which has treated Threnador as collateral damage.

Alice Sabo: Station Down

New cover art! Station Down is the forthcoming science fiction novel from Alice Sabo. I’ve worked with Alice long enough now to bypass the concept sketch stage of work and just dive into the final artwork. We always enjoy a fruitful author/artist relationship, which is one of the keys to success of getting the cover art you want on the front of your book.

Legacy – coming to streaming

My 2016 album Legacy will be coming to streaming services for the first time next week (20th December).

This project was a series of improvisations recorded in response to the loss of David Bowie back in January 2016. Although the music has no direct link to Bowie, his creative ethos has always been a major driving force for me, as well as the influence of his music. The music on Legacy is dark and moody, with the main themes exploring the concepts of what might happen beyond this existence and what we leave behind.

It’s an unusual album and a cathartic project which I’m keen to be heard by a wider audience. Both the mix and the cover art have had some minor tweaks made for this release.

Cover art – previously unseen!

Here is a piece of artwork which until now, has never been displayed online. I’ve titled it “Longing” but it was in fact a book cover commission from 2015. I’m hopeful that the book it was intended to grace will eventually see the light of day, but I’ve always been particularly pleased with this piece as it is one that really epitomises my style and approach.

AI Art

AI-generated artwork has come a long way in a very short space of time. It certainly exceeds what I can do as an artist, and many others – needless to say it has caused endless debate. The results now being spewed out by the likes of Midjourney are absolutely outstanding. While it is technologically amazing, it is also quite unsettling that a computer can generate in seconds something a human would slave over for days or weeks. It’s mind-blowing stuff.

Is it a valid art form? I don’t believe so – not yet, anyway. I dare say it won’t be long until we’re seeing endless book covers created on the cheap using AI art rather than actual artists and designers. We’re also going to see “prompt wars” with people claiming ownership of the text prompts they used for the image generation, since they cannot claim copyright of the image itself. Yet such is AI at present that if two people input the same prompt in the same software, the results are always going to be very different.

At the moment, the results are often a gamble. It may produce exacty what you want, or it does its own thing and the results are not what you expected. Nothing can ever replace the touch of an artist’s hand or the workings of their mind – plus if we’re talking artwork commissions, any client would want to establish a good rapport with their artist. You can’t do that with a machine.

Of course, the obvious way forward is for digital artists to take their AI-generated images into Photoshop and work over it – no different to “photo bashing”, a method widely used by concept artists of working over photographic elements. The question of whether it is truly their work is a debate for another day. Even so, fraudsters will be inevitable, passing off AI-generated imagery as their own creation, since they came up with the text prompt. We’re likely to see a rise in “AI artists” who can’t actually draw by hand for toffee. There’s another interesting debate for another day!

I do see value in AI artwork, but I see it with more potential as a creative tool for inspiration or ideas, rather than finished work. Why let a machine suck the life, artistry and enjoyment out of something you love doing and make a living from?

In some respects it reminds me a little of David Bowie’s “cut-up” lyrical technique, which in later years he used software for. He’d feed a magazine article into the software and it would spit it back out in a new order, which he would then re-arrange into a song. This is part of the conceptual and creative process, perhaps if you’re stuck for an idea, an AI-generated image could help give you the direction for a project whether is is composition or colours.

Perhaps the biggest cause for concern is the fact most, if not all AI art pulls its styles from human artists, both living and dead. Quite simply, artwork generated in the style of say, Syd Meade for example, is still plagarism and will in some cases be in breach of copyright. We’re yet to hear of legal cases concerning copyright and AI art, but it’s likely to be a long and messy can of worms when we do.

I do not regard AI art as ‘digital’ artwork. Digital is a medium – replacing paper and paint with pixels. Digital art is still created by hand, using a stylus or finger-painted and still comes from the human mind. AI art is exactly that, and its own category which I believe will be more widely recognised as such in time.

I do accept that AI art is here to stay, and it will find its place – and it’s only going to get better. However, despite its brilliance, I’m already growing tired of it – the majority pieces have a certain look to them whereby you can just tell it’s AI – even moreso on closer inspection.

Interestingly, some conventions are now banning the display of AI-generated artwork, and I totally understand why. You want to see an artist’s work at an event like that, and in many cases, also meet the artist. Meeting somebody who came up with a text prompt isn’t quite the same.

However especially concerning science fiction artwork, this is a medium of advanced technology – science fiction in action – so it has a place. However it needs to be clearly, honestly labelled as AI-generated artwork regardless of whether the image has had any post-production.

Honesty will be key to the success of AI art.

Doctor On Display

Over the past year, I have been working with Reeltime Pictures on their new series of documentaries, Doctor On Display. Each film looks in-depth at a different classic Doctor Who exhibition. As well as being an interviewee in some of the films, I also have the pleasure of creating the DVD cover design.

The first two titles, The Museum of Classic Sci-Fi in Allendale and Longleat are now available via the Time Travel TV online store. Forthcoming titles will focus on the exhibitions in Llangollen and Blackpool. Having been heavily involved in two books on the Blackpool exhibitions, Blackpool Remembered and Blackpool Revisited, it is an absolute joy to see this series of documentaries come into being!