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Preview: The Art Department

The Art Department

Illustration, Publishing, and Science Fiction

Updated: 2018-01-23T10:18:41.386-05:00


MicroVisions 7 Contributors Announced


MicroVisions 7 has begun and it’s a stellar line-up.For those new to the event, each year Greg Manchess, Dan Dos Santos, and I ask a dozen artists to create a 5x7 painting of their choosing. These miniatures are exhibited at the Society of Illustrators and then placed on auction with all proceeds going to the Society’s student scholarship fund.This year’s contributors are:Scott BakalJulie BellScott BrundageBrian DespainNathan FowkesRebecca GuayScott GustafsonJohn PicacioDan Dos SantosPeter de SeveChris RahnTerryl WhitlatchThe exhibit will run in May, with the auction taking place late in the month. Details will be posted as the event draws near.The Society Scholarships are among the illustrations industry’s toughest awards. This year, over 8,000 entries weher examined by 25 judges. Just over 200 students will be accepted into the exhibit, and about half will earn cash awards. Not only do these awards help subsidize students financially, they also go a long way to boost the confidence of young artists (and their nervous parents) by proving their voices stand out amongst thousands of others. It’s never long before you start seeing the winners on their way to becoming the field’s biggest names. John Jude Palencar, James Jean, Tomer Hanuka, Dan Dos Santos and hundreds of others have become noted illustrators since the Scholarship’s inception in 1981.Once again, I would like to thank the artists involved for heir generosity. The illustration community is incredibly supportive. Not every profession would donate time and energy into supporting their future competition.[...]

Jon Foster on Cherie Priest’s Dreadnought, once and again


(image) Here’s a situation where we got a great image from Jon Foster but...Marketing felt it was missed the steampunk mark a bit. I hated to admit it, because it is a great painting, but it does feel too solidly placed in actual history. So, giant steam robot to the rescue!

And through the wonders of the internets, the first still gets to live in the world.

For Cherie Preist’s Dreadnought, sequel to her Boneshaker. You can see another Foster-Priest collab set in the same world on Clementine, published by Subterranean Press.

UPDATE: For author squee.

Shaun Tan’s The Lost Thing trailer. In word, awesome!


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Shaun Tan’s fifteen minute animated adaptation of his book The Lost Thing—the story of a boy’s empathy with a lost, er, thing and his attempts to help it find its place—is completed and making the festival circuit. If anyone gets a chance to see it, please report back! I’m dying to see it.

In the meantime, anyone else as in love with Shaun’s work as I am can play around on are character studies, color keys and production drawings to see. And if that is not enough, check out this 5 minute documentary on the movie.

6,600 thank yous


A huge thanks to all that participated in MircoVisions. It was a record-breaking year, at $6,600.00!

Thanks to all the artists and bidders, winners and losers. Sadly, it takes a runner-up to make an auction — we appreciate all of you.

There will be a few more smiling kids next May because of all your efforts.

...Now, who should we get for next year.....

MicroVisions 5 auction now live!


(image) MicroVisions 5 auction is now live on eBay.
Opening bids start at $50.00.
Auction ends Wednesday, May 26th.

Each year, Dan Dos Santos and I ask about a dozen artists to create a 5x7 painting of their choosing. These miniatures are exhibited at the Society of Illustrators and placed on auction with all proceeds going to the Society’ student scholarship fund.

This year’s contributors pulled out all the the stops and created an amazing exhibit. A huge thank you to the artists that have given so generously of the time and talent: Scott Altmann, Scott Bakal, Rick Berry, Bill Carman, Jon Foster, Donato Giancola, Michael Kaluta, Tim O’Brien, Omar Rayyan, Allen Williams, and Boris Vallejo.

The Society Scholarships are among the illustrations industry’s toughest awards. Less than two hundred students are chosen to be in the exhibit from nearly 6,000 entries—about half of them earn cash awards. Not only do these awards help subsidize students financially, they also go a long way to boost the confidence of young artists (and their nervous parents) by proving their voices stand out amongst thousands of others. It’s never long before you start seeing the winners on their way to becoming the field’s biggest names—John Jude Palencar, James Jean, Tomer Hanuka, Dan Dos Santos and hundreds of others since the Scholarship’s inception in 1981.

For those of you in New York, the exhibit is on display at the Society of Illustrators through May 22nd.

Julie Bell and The Path of Daggers


This month’s Wheel of Time ebook release features the fabulous Julie Bell!

“In the end, Julie created strong and individual characters, each one looking as competent in their own right as the next, clearly working together for a greater power.”

Check out the article to read the whole story, including a video interview with Julie.

Boris Vallejo’s MicroVisions


(image) Last, certainly not least, Boris Vallejo.

You know, when you’re dealing with Boris you never expect anything but his “A” game...and still he can knock your socks off. Wow.

Tor Books turns 30!


Last Friday was our birthday — Tor turned 30!

To commemorate the occasion, I put together a “walk through the halls” photo essay. Come on by and say Hi. It’s a peak inside the offices along with a quick introduction to some of the people behind the books.

Rick Berry’s MicrvoVisions


(image) Rick Berry’s “Rainmaker” MicroVisions.

I was lucky enough to pick up one of Rick’s unreal portraits at this year’s Boskone. I love how his figures feel as though they are part of some primal shadow world, just on the cusp of corporeality.

Check out his newly updated website and his artbook, Sparrow.

Happy birthday, Mr. Sondheim


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Donato Giancola’s MicroVisions


(image) (image) Anyone following Donato Giancola’s website closely has seen a few new Lord of the Rings drawings and paintings. That’s because he’s working on what sounds like a dream job, a Tolkien inspired art book for Underwood Books (the publishers of Spectrum.)

Donato took advantage of the time spent on MicroVisions to creat this portriat of Dwarf Telchar forging Aragorn’s sword, Narsil, which will also appear in th ebook.

I’m getting so excited to see this little show. It will be on the walls at the Society of Illustrators starting April 27th. The auction will be the first or second week of May — stay tuned for details!

Michael Wm. Kaluta’s MicroVisions


(image) Okay, who called Michael Kaluta and told him I have a thing for cranes? It’s true. I love cranes and herons, and pictures of cranes and herons. And I love the ballet of necks and beaks in this drawing.

Michael, a huge thanks to you, good sir! Like the rest, it’ll be a heartbreak to send it away.

Facelifts: Virga


Jamie Stafford-Hill, design
Stephan Martiniere, art

It’s always fun to re-consider designs when books move from hardcover to trade paperback. Even just a few years can make you want to update a bit.

I started playing around with the color translucent panels and then, as always, meetings took over my days. Once the mechanical was labeled “Late!” I threw it off to designer Jamie Stafford-hill and said, “Kinda like this only, you know, good.” And, as always he delivered.

Cities in the Air is an omnibus of the first two novels in Karl Schroeder’s Virga series. Pirate Sun being the third volume. Two more (for now?) to come. I look forward to seeing the whole set in my favorite format.

Scott Altmann’s MicroVisions


Scott Altmann manages to be both pretty and its opposite, in his MicroVisions. I keep trying to look away,...and then I get sucked in for a closer look.

All the MicroVisions paintings will be in display at the Society of Illustrators throughout May. We'll have details on the auction in about two weeks. Anyone is welcome to buy them all for me.

Remembering John Schoenherr, by Gregory Manchess


What could you say to a man about his painting? What could you say that would impress him and yet let him know that his work has informed your own struggle to learn throughout your life?

(image) John Schoenherr’s work has been a part of my life since I was a kid, looking at an Analog cover in my favorite drug store. I was drawn in by the mysterious shapely woman in a tree, accompanied by her gigantic otter. From across the store one could tell that they were friends. This is when I began to realize that painting could not only be fun, it could touch an emotional chord.

From an early age I could tell that John’s work had a certain kind of stiffness in its application compared to other great painters whose brushwork was supple and relaxed. John’s had a rigid quality to it that couldn’t be avoided, yet it’s graphic composition was unrelenting. He captured light in a graceful manner, pulling your eye to just the most important elements and finished it all like the power of a museum piece.

(image) In all of my art school years, I knew a painter when I saw one. I was never tempted to exclude a commercial artist’s gems from a life dedicated to the almighty gallery world. John’s work showed me that painting transcends application when it truly touches the spirit, whether it was a subtle portrait of a renaissance woman, an experiment in abstract color, or a humungous sandworm cresting a dune.

The fact is, you can’t really say much to a painter like this that wouldn’t make you sound like a simpleton, or the uber fanboy. I never got to meet John Schoenherr. He passed away April 8th having expressed what I believe he must’ve surely loved to paint right up until his last day.

And every artist after him that I have ever enjoyed or has shown me how powerful painted images can be, I will thank them, profusely, like I wish I could’ve mustered the will to do with John.

Thank you, John, for leaving so much work I will never tire of.

— Gregory Manchess


Tim O’Brien’s MicroVisions


Tim O’Brien manages to be cute and analytical, with a dash of steampunk, and a generous helping of surrealism in his MicroVision. Bravo! Yet another one, that I cannot wait to see in person.

Sam Weber’s Ender’s Game ebook cover


(image) I am very excited to release Sam Weber’s ebook cover for Ender’s Game. This was a blast to work on.

For the whole skinny on the how the cover came about, Sam’s thoughts, and a some process pictures, check out the article.

Scott Bakal’s MicroVisions


Scott Bakal’s “Rebellion” in the Galactic War for Rainbow Juice.

(image) About a year ago Scott started a super-cute series of drawings about aliens landing in central park and scoping out NY. I fell in love with the guys and have been asking him, “What’s their story!?” ever since.

Scott is also the chairman of the Society of Illustrators student scholarship exhibit — he knows first hand how much the work of all the MicroVision artists is appreciated by the students. The Scholarship program is a huge job so extra thanks goes to Scott for taking the time to participate.(image)

Jon Foster’s MicroVisions


...and the cow jumped over the moon-girl.

Mr. Jon Foster, always an Art Department favorite.

This MicroVisions is becoming insanely good. I have to thank all the artists, again, for being part of it
*wondering what the inbox fairy will bring me next*

Charles Vess’ Instructions by Neil Gaiman


This is just lovely. Neil Gaiman reading Instructions while showing Charles Vess’ drawings from pencil to paint.

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And...Charles was kind enough to give me a signed and drawn in edition of his artbook Drawing Down the Moon to give away on Details soon!

Mélanie Delon and A Crown of Swords


Alas, our latest Wheel of Time ebook cover reveal! A Crown of Swords

This one by Mélanie Delon. (She of the Spectrum 16 cover.) If you head over to, you can get the inside scoop on how we got here, including a nifty progression through various stages of the painting.
Mélanie Delon’s work is exemplified by utilizing detail and soft focus, creating images that blur the edges between realism and fantasy. It was a great match for a moment of surrender and rebirth, a moment when Nynaeve must disengage from her usual character traits and, if just for second, open herself up.

Omar Rayyan’s MicroVisions


(image) Say hello to Omar Rayyan’s MicroVision, “Hopalong Galahad.”

Omar‘s work has a lightness and humor that makes it impossible not to smile when you see it. It’s easy to see how charming and witty it is — and it's easy to forget all the backbreaking hard work that goes into honing that kind of grace in paint. Just the way it should be.

Allen Williams’ MicroVisions


(image) Allen Williams just emailed me his contribution for the MicroVisions auction. And now I am getting very excited about this mini-exhibit.

Allen created the painting voted “Most Likely to be Stolen by Irene” at the first Illustration Master Class. I love his ability to know just when to push and pull edges — creating images that are both detailed and highly ethereal. He’s one of those painters that I wish I could step into their eyes and see the world as they see it.

Allen has been writing (damn, overachiever ;-) and illustrating a series of kids book for Little Brown, due out next fall. I’ve seen bits of pieces of the drawings and they look amazing. His blog, I just Draw, shows a few sneak-peaks.

Aang today, Aang salad tomorrow.



Bill Carman’s MicroVisions


(image) Bill Carman gets the gold star for being the first artists done with their MicroVision. Hurray. And he has set the bar high.

Thank you, Bill!

I love that his paintings suggest some kind of strange narrative but are never spelled out. Instead, the we are left playfully wondering, what on earth is going on there.

I haven’t sen the original yet but he’s tells me it is painted on copper — I can’t wait to get a hold of it, if only for a short while.

This painting, and a dozen others, will be up for auction in early May. More about this year’s MicroVisions auction here.

Interview with Bill Carman here.