Creatives for Ukraine is an open platform for creatives from around the world to show solidarity with the people of Ukraine, via artwork. The idea being all submitted works are freely available to be downloaded and used in any way in order to support Ukraine.
I created a piece called Lament; a simple abstraction of the Ukraine flag on first glance, but on closer inspection, an explosion. Lament is now due to be used in a nationwide outdoor advertising campaign in Finland, as a show of solidarity and support.
If you are reading this post, ukrainetakeshelter.com is an independent platform connecting Ukrainian refugees with potential hosts and housing. Please share the URL far and wide – you never know who you might be helping.
I was sad to hear of artist Chris Achilleos’ passing yesterday at the age of 74. Chris was a renowned science fiction and fantasy artist, but most famous for his Doctor Who novelisation covers of the “Target” books in the 1970s. Chris’ distinctive cover art inspired a generation, perfectly encapsulating the stories, the essence of the show and the era.
My personal favourite is Planet of the Daleks. I first saw it in the junior school library when I was about 7 or 8 years old. I’d never seen a Dalek on the cover of a book before, and it blew me away. Not only was this a way into a story I had never seen (and at that time, there was no way of re-watching older stories), but studying that cover taught me how to draw Daleks and also taught me about creative composition and framing a piece. After seeing that artwork, even at the young age I was, I thought about drawing differently.
Until then, I had no idea there were Doctor Who books in the school library(!)… others followed! Chris’ covers were a way into the stories you hadn’t seen, and in the age before BBC Video releases were a regular thing, they were your only way of discovering past stories. They were also fantastic pieces of artwork in their own right.
Chris’ work continued to inspire me in my own science fiction artwork, decades later. Generations of fans felt a closeness to his work, because of everything those Target books meant to them as young fans, again growing up in the age before video or DVD releases and long before the internet. His absence will leave a dark hole in the worlds of fandom and SF&F art. Still working and as good as ever, it had been a pleasure to follow Chris online in recent years. He will be missed.
To commemorate four years since my “Windows On Other Worlds” exhibition, I have added a new page to the Special Projects section. While only a small, local affair, exhibiting my work outside of a convention context was a big thing for me, and it was great! You can read more about it hereand download the exhibition brochure, which details the artworks that were on show.
I’m pleased to announce a new, free digital publication, The Art of a Changed World – a detailed retrospective of the cover art I have produced with writer Alice Sabo, since 2014.
The Art of a Changed World brings together all my concept art, final cover illustrations and designs for Alice’s thirteen books to date – spanning science fiction, fantasy and thriller genres. It contains the stories behind each cover, as well as insights into the creative process alongside contributions from Alice, plus a wonderful foreword by Richard Hayes.
This project celebrates creative collaboration in the world of independent publishing – whether you are an aspiring or established writer, artist, publisher, fan or reader, I hope you enjoy The Art of a Changed World.
Click the button below or the image above to download in PDF format.
Novacon is the UK’s longest-established science fiction convention. It started in 1971 as the Birmingham Science Fiction Group’s annual meetup, then expanded and moved around over the years, eventually finding its spiritual home in Nottingham. Novacon is a little different to your bigger conventions; there are no costumes or that sort of thing, and has a stronger emphasis on the literary side of SF&F, but all aspects of fandom are covered – film, television and comics, etc. As you might expect, there’s a rolling programme of panel discussions, science talks, art talks and a whole range of other things alongside book launches, author readings and of course, the busy dealer’s room, fantastic art show and art auction. Every year offers something different and a Guest of Honour whose presence, interests and work form a central point to many of the discussions.
This year’s Guest of Honour was Mike Carey – perhaps now best known as author of The Girl With All the Gifts. Needless to say, the film and book were regular talking points, as were Carey’s Felix Castor series and his work in the graphic novel industry. In fact, the discussions around comics and graphic novels was refreshing and really interesting for me, as a one-time wannabe comic artist! Mike also gave us several engaging readings from his forthcoming novel, The Book of Koli.
I have been going to Novacon since 2012 and have met a wide range of amazing people – many have become good friends and others I’ve gone on to collaborate with on cover art. During Sunday’s closing ceremony, Mike Carey described Novacon as “warm hearted”, and I couldn’t have put it better. The bulk of the membership is made up by many familiar, returning faces. It is an easygoing and welcoming convention and refreshing to be able to casually chat with renowned authors or artists without any sense of celebrity or ego. This year, Christopher Priest attended with his daughter Elizabeth – now also a published writer. It was great to have the time to catch up with him, as I have admired his writing for many years.
The convention drink of choice is Black Sheep ale, which tends to start flowing early on and continues throughout the weekend. It may result in people falling asleep during talks and snoring loudly (the point at which a polite reminder they’ve also paid for a bed wouldn’t be a bad thing). But loud nasal interference aside, it is always nice to have the flexibility that the con offers; some folk attend all the talks, some are more selective, while others simply seem to go purely for the social side of things and set up camp in the bar, catching up with old friends and making new ones.
While the crowd ought to (and deserves to) be a little larger, what I do like about this convention is its size, as you can find the time and space for proper conversation; and if you want to find somebody again, you can – unlike at bigger events such as Eastercon where everything is so packed and frantic, and simply trying to track somebody down or have a conversation in more than passing is quite difficult.
I mainly attend Novacon to be a part of the art show. It is always an honour to be able to exhibit my work alongside renowned space and science fiction artist, David A. Hardy (who has been at every Novacon since 1973!). The art show brings in a vast range of styles and genres, from new artists to well-known names. The art room – or in this year’s case, rooms – are brimming with science fiction, space and fantasy art and illustration in all media, plus various other arts and crafts, such as jewellery, needlework and even knitwear! Serena and John always work tirelessly to make sure their artists are looked after, and we can never thank them enough! Most of the art on show comes with a bid sheet for any potential buyers, and the pieces with bids are entered into the art auction on the Sunday.
The dealers’ room mainly comprises booksellers and independent publishers, such as PS Publishing, NewCon Press and Elsewhen Press – all of whom are putting out some of the most exciting and original titles in science and speculative fiction, fantasy and horror.
It’s not all about science fiction though – Novacon doesn’t forget the science bit! Although this year, there was no British Interplanetary Society presence, David A. Hardy gave us a whirlwind visual tour of the planets, via his excellent presentation To the Stars – On A Paintbrush!, and as always, there were two science talks. I missed the first, but astrophysicist, Dr Rachael Livermore gave an excellent insight on the Sunday morning into Dark Matter – a fascinating and fun way to start the day (even though I tend to find science talks first thing in the morning a little too much for my convention brain!).
I took part in the panel which followed – a great discussion on working with artists, alongside Mike Carey, Manga expert Zoe Burgess and Peter Buck of Elsewhen Press – all chaired by Patrick McMurray. I have obviously attended enough Novacons now to have progressed from audience member to panel participant!
Novacon for me is also about those great connections. Two such examples are Elsewhen Press, whom I met during my first Novacon, and have since illustrated several of their book covers; and a couple of conventions later, I met Helen Claire Gould, who after seeing my art display, invited me to produce the cover art for her début novel, Floodtide – it was great to see Helen back at Novacon this year, promoting the book as well as her more recent titles.
The Sunday afternoon sadly comes around so quickly, and it doesn’t feel like a few minutes have past since installing the art show on the Friday, when the time comes to reluctantly disassemble it. However, with not one, but four Guests of Honour booked for next year – Novacon’s big five-o – it will certainly be an event to look forward to.
After all, what more could you want, but to share a hotel with several hundred likeminded people?
The science fiction gallery page has been updated with the addition of two brand new pieces of artwork, Simulacrum and Into Battle.
These two pieces plus many others will be part of my display in the art show at next month’s Novacon – the UK’s longest-running science fiction convention. This year’s Guest of Honour is writer Mike Carey, perhaps best known for The Girl With All the Gifts. If you’re going, do drop by the art room and say hello!
Finally, here are two promotional videos for Mutate:
This week, my latest cover art was unveiled – a full cover wrap for The Sleeping Dragon, a fantasy comedy by Jonny Nexus.
This is probably among a minority of fantasy books with “dragon” in the title, but no dragon in sight on the cover, and there is a good reason for this – but you’ll just have to investigate the book when it comes out, to discover why!
Jonny was keen to show two times within the cover; a lush, Tolkeinesque landscape of the past, intersected with a glimpse of the future metropolis that would be built on the same land. Showing the future vision via a crystal ball conveyed the magical, fantastical element that we wanted.
I also created a short animated visual for the cover, which Jonny has used in his own cover reveal video…
You can find out more about the book and Jonny’s other work, by following him on Twitter.