Aug 25 2011 5:28pm

Chesley Award-Winner Spotlight: Michael Whelan

The Chesley Awards for achievement in art are given each year by the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists at the World Science Fiction Convention. This will be a series of posts to spotlight each winner from this year’s event.

Today, a man that hardly needs an introduction. Michael Whelan is a multiple Chesley, Hugo, Spectrum, and Society of Illustrators award winner, and near universally considered one of the top five or so artists in the field.

Michael won this year’s Chesley for Best Hardcover Illustration for his work on Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings. (Shown above.) Michael had taken a break from book covers for a number of years so we, at Tor Books, were honored he was up for taking the assignment on. Even more so when we saw what a knock-out job he did. Check out the process post for that very cover here. Thank you and congrats to Michael Whelan.

Click here for the full list of 2011 Chesley Award winners and nominees.

Visit Michael Whelan’s website for more images and to buy prints.

You can download desktop wallpapers of the Way of Kings here and see the painting process here.

Chris Hawks
1. SaltManZ
Whelan's work is just so fricking AMAZING, it's almost unfair.
Joel Cunningham
2. jec81
I agree it is a great cover, which is why it is such a shame that the design blocks almost all of it with an overlarge title treatment and other copy. I honestly didn't realize that was supposed to be a storm in the background until I read the cover art progression post.
Stefan Raets
3. Stefan
The double cover of Tad Williams' To Green Angel Tower is my favorite Michael Whelan piece. The images separately are beautiful, but seeing them back-to-back as intended is stunning.

That being said, I still had John Picacio and Stephen Martiniere ahead of Whelan on my ballot this year...
4. ireadthebooks
Anyone know what that second image is of, with the tunnel and the tree? It's gorgeous!
Irene Gallo
5. Irene
That's one of his gallery paintings. He's been spending most of his time doing gallery work for the past bunch of years.
Terri S
6. ireadthebooks
Thanks Irene! That image has just sort of captured my imagination, you know?
7. SciFi Lady
My first convention, I saw "The Princess of Mars" and the painting blew me away! I've been lucky to see the originals of many of his paintings over the years and print copies never do them justice.
8. Narmitaj
Has a bit of a feel of Bruce Pennington, the 70s/80s sf cover artist, about him.
9. euphbass
Can anyone tell me what the second image (the one with the sphinxes) is from? I'm rather hoping it's a book cover, but I can't find it on his website. It would be better if the images at least had titles.
10. Eugene R.
@euphbass - The second image is titled "Sentinels" and is one of Mr. Whelan's personal works (rather than a commissioned cover piece). You can find it on his website ( on the "Personal Visions" page.

It always makes me think of his cover work, too, but I must have seen it in The Art of Michael Whelan or one of his calendars.

The first illustration is "Passage: Arrival" (though it does not seem to be on his website with the other "Passage" pieces in "Personal Visions". The third piece is "Hari" (i.e., Seldon), the cover for Foundation by Isaac Asimov, for the 1986 Del Rey edition.
11. Duncan Long
Michael Whelan's work is always a joy to see. Thanks for sharing these and also for the links showing the behind-the-scenes sketches and so forth.

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