John Picacio: Artist Hugo nominee spotlight

John Picacio

Today’s Best Professional Artist Hugo nominee spotlight is John Picacio.

If your voting on the Hugos (and even if you aren’t but just like great picture-making) please take some time to check out John’s:
2008 gallery gallery

John’s 2008 thoughts:

“It’s a thrill and an honor to be recognized as a Hugo finalist for the fifth consecutive year, and I’m extremely honored to be in the company of Bob, Donato, Dan, and Shaun. I’m proud to be working in the sf/fantasy field, and hope to keep working daily toward being a better pro, better draftsman, and better painter. My favorite artists are the ones who surprise me with fresh problem-solving, a willingness to challenge, and the capability to use any media at their disposal to best express an idea. What pleased me most about my 2008 work was the diversity—whether it be a traditional/digital hybrid approach such as the Fast Forward 2 cover art; or the simple pencil work of my Elric interior illustrations; or a “world is my palette” approach such as the Well-Built City triptych, mixing found objects and made bits with paintings and constructions. Good times.☺”

Paintings seen here:

Cover illustration for Elric: The Stealer of Souls
by Michael Moorcock (Del Rey)
(Oil on illustration board / mixed-media / digital)

It was pure joy illustrating this cover. Moorcock’s Elric is one of my all-time favorite characters, along with Batman, The Spectre, and a few others. Legendary, iconic characters provide an extra challenge to illustrators because so many great artists have already mined the visual territory and done their own unique takes. The fun part is trying to find something fresh, personal, and essential, previously unexplored. Did I accomplish that? That’s up to the audience to decide, but I sure had a blast doing it. ☺

Cover illustration for Fast Forward 2
Edited by Lou Anders (Pyr)
(Oil on illustration board / mixed-media / digital)

Over the years, I’ve illustrated several covers for Lou Anders-edited anthologies. This one’s my favorite by far. When I was doing my early sketches, Lou gave me Paolo Bacigalupi’s “The Gambler” because at the time, it was one of the few FF2 stories already finished. It blew me away. (No surprise that “The Gambler” is nominated for a Best Novelette Hugo this year.) My assignment was to create a cover for the whole book, not a single story. However, his story—and the best ones in FF2—resonate because they powerfully address our present moment while visualizing the future. That was very much on my mind during the making of the cover art. This one’s also a loving nod to Dave Stevens. While brainstorming visions of liberty and revolution for FF2, I heard that Dave passed away, and suddenly this cover also became a loving homage to his work that gave me so much joy as a kid.

Cover illustration for the Well-Built City trilogy
by Jeffrey Ford (Golden Gryphon Press)
(Oil on masonite / found objects / collage / hand-made shadowbox assemblage / non-digital)

This one’s special. It’s a triptych that forms the Golden Gryphon covers of Jeff Ford’s fantastic Well-Built City trilogy: The Physiognomy, Memoranda, and The Beyond. Nothing digital here. It’s 100% traditional media, including oil paintings on masonite surrounded by found objects and ephemera, with lots of wood, glue, blood, sweat, and tears, all housed within a box that I handbuilt and painted. Each 1/3 of it comprises one of the three covers. The left 1/3 is the cover of The Physiognomy, the middle 1/3 is the cover of Memoranda and the the right 1/3 is the cover of The Beyond. The fun is that when readers buy all three books, the covers connect side-by-side to form the picture you see here. I poured my guts into this one, and these books were worth it.

Other 2008 Best Professional Artist Hugo nominee profiles:
Shaun Tan
Dan Dos Santos


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