The Chesley Awards of the Association of Science Fiction & Fantasy Arts are presented on the WorldCon of Reno, officially called Renovation. This award was founded in 1985, with the intention to acknowledge the painters, sculptors and other artists on the field of fantastic fiction. The award was named after Chesley Bonestell (1888–1986), who is called the “father of modern space art”, contributed to various classic science fiction movies (such as the 1953 adaptation of the War of the Worlds), and is the creator of a great number of paintings. The award was presented in nine categories, along with a prize to the best art director of a publishing house, and a Lifetime Artistic Achievement award. The following article gives a little insight on the award-winning works of art, and also on their creators.
Click on the category headers to view the nominated work.
The cover created by Jason Chan called the Geist was awarded this year. The creator was born in California, in 1983, and although his major interest was 3D animation, he ended up with painting. He said, “Ever since I was a kid I’ve always been drawing characters for make believe video games, cartoons and comics. […] I drew a million Mega Man and Mario drawings”. As many artists of his generation, he too was attracted to the art forms of the Far East, the anime and manga, and although he learned the Western style in college, to this day his goal is to meld the Western methods with his interest towards the Eastern style, and this is visible in all of his pictures. His pictures fall in the genre of fantasy, his award-winning creation was painted for a Philippa Ballantine-novel.
Michael Whelan is one of the most famous sci-fi artists, he already won several awards like the Hugo, Chesley and the World Fantasy Award with his works, and in 1992, on the 50th World Con he was elected as the “Greatest Artist of the Last 50 Years”. He was born in 1950, and from the 1980s to the present day he created the covers of more than 350 books and albums, and illustrated several famous works, for example, The Dark Tower series of Stephen King. As he puts it on his webpage, “Stylistically my art is best described as Imaginative Realism. In my illustration, my primary concern has been to create a window into the themes and story elements of a particular book”. He lives in Connecticut with his wife and two children, and his award-winning illustration was created for The Way of Kings, a novel by Brandon Sanderson.
The winner of this category, Nick Greenwood is a former student of the East Carolina University, graduated in 1995. “I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a wonderful collection of clients on a variety of subject matter – everything from children’s/educational products, mystery novels, advertising design, fantasy/sci-fi games, and religious projects”. After a series of workplaces, he works as a freelancer nowadays, living in North Carolina with his wife and four daughters. He won the award with an illustration for the 17th issue of Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, an online periodical.
The award-winning sculptor of this year, Mark Newman graduated in 1986 from the San Francisco Academy of Art, as an illustrator. But his interest turned to sculpture, and this has been his main occupation in the past few years. He created maquettes for the Tippett Studios, and several character designs for various video games. He also sculpted two different bronze fireplace facades for George Lucas, one for his bedroom’s fireplace and the other for one of the fireplaces of the Main Building of the Skywalker Ranch. He also sculpted various pieces for his own amusement, one of these is this year’s Chelsey Award-winning Eeel Walker. This bronze statue in 19’’ tall, 28’’ long and 5’’ wide, and it already won last year’s Gold Award in the dimensional category for the fantasy art publication Spectrum. As he puts it, “I really appreciate whomever submitted my work for consideration for this award and honored to receive it”. He works and lives in California.
Just like Whelan, Donato Giancola also won several Hugo and Chelsey Awards, and is also an immensely popular artist. He was born in 1967, he graduated from Syracuse University in 1992, then he moved to New York, where he still lives with his wife and daughter. He held several exhibitions and made a great number of pictures, including copies of the works of Rubens and Rembrandt. Many of his designs and pictures were used by the UN, Lucasfilm, National Geographic, DC, Microsoft or Tor. As he describes, his paintings “balances modern concepts with realism (…) to bridge the worlds of contemporary and historical figurative arts”. One of his pictures in his new book, Middle-Earth: Visions of a Modern Myth won him the Chesley this year.
Julie Dillion was born in 1982 and graduated from Sacramento State University in the year 2005, then went on with her studies at the San Francisco Academy of Arts University and the Watt Atelier of Arts. She said in an interview that she enjoyed creating things ever since she can remember, whether it was artwork, stories or music. Yet she ended up with painting, in spite of her interest in writing and theatre. She worked as a freelancer ever since the beginning, her pictures (which included themes like sci-fi, fantasy and steampunk) were used by, for example, Wizards of the Coast, Paizo Publishing, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show or the Lightspeed Magazine. To create her award-winning picture called Planetary Alignment, she used both conventional and digital techniques.
This year’s award winner of this category, Ian Miller, was born in the United Kingdom, in 1946. According to him, he used to paint a lot even in primary school, either on paper or a cardboard box. Between 1963 and 1970, he attended to various art schools, then got a job in London. He work in Ralph Baksi’s animation studio, and also at DreamWors’ animation department. His first single album was published in 1979, followed by two other. He used to make comic books with the contribution of M. John Harrison and James Herbert. He was working for Interzone in the past few years, as an Art Editor, and also for Game Workshop, as an Art Consultant. He lives in Brighton with his wife, Jenny. He received the award for his three-picture work, Triptych, drawn with Indian ink and pen.
This year, the creator of a promotional picture for Tor’s e-books, Sam Weber received the prize in this category. He was born and raised in Alaska, and moved to New York after graduating at the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary. There, he took a job as a freelancer illustrator, and attended to The School of Visual Arts. He is living in Brooklyn with his wife, Jillian Tamaki. Weber worked for Universal Films, National Geographic, Tor Books, Penguin, Playboy and DC/Vertigo Comics.
Just like two years ago and last year, Lucas Graciano was triumphant again, who received the award for his picture Amorphous Drake, which he created for the online card game, Legends of Norrath. Started out as a caricaturist and received awards for his works, then he turned to painting. He is a teacher at Watt Atelier of Arts since 2005. He is making storyboards and illustrations for games, books and card games. He worked for Pyr Books, Blizzard and Sony Online Entertainment as a freelancer – his award-winning illustration was made for the latter. Most of his works were published in both magazines, and were selected into a number of art albums.
Best Art Director
Jon Schindehette grew up in New Orleans, and – according to him –, he has done many different things before he finally settled in New York, as an employee of Wizard of the Coast. Nowadays he is working as a Creative Art Director in the Dungeons & Dragons group. He is also the administrator of the blog The ArtOrder, which focuses on fantasy and sci-fi illustrations. The only thing he loves more than his work is his Harley Davidson.
Lifetime Artistic Achievement
The ASFA gave this award to Boris Vallejo this year. The Peruvian artist is one of the most well-known fantasy painters. He was born in Lima in 1941, and attended the National School of Fine Arts in his native country. He moved to the United States in 1964, where he became famous for his Tarzan, Conan and Doc Savage-illustrations. He mostly works with oil, yet does not reject Indian ink and CG techniques. He painted several movie posters, most of them became legendary. He married Julie Bell in 1994, who is also his creative partner. He is living in Pennsylvania.
All pictures are used with the artists’ approval; all rights are reserved for them.
Translated by Ferenc Benkő
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