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Sci-Fi Art Now by John Freeman

1/12/2010. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy Sci-Fi Art Now in the USA - or Buy Sci-Fi Art Now in the UK

author pic

pub: Ilex. 192 page illustrated square shape hardback. Price: GBP19.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-905814-98-5.

check out website: www.ilex-press.com

There are far too few SF artbooks around at the moment so any new one that pops up, like this one, ‘Sci-Fi Art Now’, has to be checked out. Granted that there are places you can look up on the Net, indeed author John Freeman points out three such websites in the back of the book, but it doesn’t beat having a book in your hands that you can sit back and peruse away from your computer screen and not have to remember where you saw such-and-such a page cos you didn’t add it to your favourites list.



The book is divided into seven chapters covering the basic SF tropes of robots, spacecraft, aliens, ladies, cities, warfare and steampunk. Interestingly, the robots chapter has art that is all got on computer than the regular medium which is probably appropriate. I should point out that the ladies are more action heroine than cheesecake. The style ranges from full painting to comicbook and manga style so there’s plenty of choice for everyone. Some have been used for cover work, RPG and a little advert promotion but there’s also some personal pieces as well which, again, should cover everyone’s tastes. No one should feel left out.



With each piece of art, there is information about how it was composed, used where appropriate and a website should you want to see it on your computer – something that the likes of Google wouldn’t be much good for unless you knew who or what you were looking for. Plus on top of this, some comments from each artist about their work. I found it interesting how mixed media these days also includes computer graphics with artists scanning their work in so they can enhance the painting in a way that would be outside of conventional acrylics and oils. Although I don’t paint as much as I should these days, it does make me wonder about getting a graphics tablet so those of you who are likely to feel inspired will certainly get some from this book.



It’s amazing how many of the artists say they were influenced by ‘Star Wars’ or ‘Blade Runner’ in the creation of their work. Indeed, some of them were commissioned for the ‘Star Wars’ market although more with the machinery than the people in mind.



There’s a lot more new names and art in the samples presented. I often see book compositions such as this as something that all book editors or cover editors should have on their bookshelves when they are looking for someone to paint a cover, more so because at the back of the books there is also a list of websites and how to contact these artists.



I should point out that there are eighty-two artists’ work involved in this book. The format of this book is such that there is some overlap into the central spine but as it’s a strung book, the art doesn’t roll so much and vanish in the centre which is great for the panoramic pieces but a bit more of a problem when only a quarter of the art overlaps. I might have been inclined to reduce the size of the art to fit in if it wasn’t possible to enlarge the book-size but these are the vulgarities of publishing and always goes back to cost and shelf-space so this is only a minor criticism.

We need more books like this so encourage with your wallets.

GF Willmetts

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