Jun 19, 2006

Sci-fi artist uses old-fashioned ways

Source: San Antonio Express-News
Written by Dan R. Goddard

John Picacio shopped at a local hardware store for the parts to assemble his starship — PVC plumbing parts, electrical workboxes and sprinkler heads.

But the clunky contraption appeared sleekly futuristic with rockets blazing against a sea of stars when the San Antonio artist incorporated it into his design for the cover of a science fiction novel, Mike Resnick’s “Starship: Mutiny.”

“I think you can see the influence of the found object collages of Robert Rauschenberg and Joseph Cornell in my work,” he said. “I like working from three-dimensional models, and I think it is important to draw from life. I have friends dress up in costume for my figures. I do my final composition on computer, but nearly all the individual elements are done by hand. It’s old-fashioned drawing and painting.”

Picacio is one of the fastest rising stars of science fiction illustration. Working out of his home studio near downtown, he’s created recent covers for Ballantine/Del Rey’s reprints of classics such as Frederik Pohl’s “Gateway” and Robert Heinlein’s “The Red Planet” as well as Walter Miller Jr.’s “A Canticle for Leibowitz” published by HarperCollins/Eos. And he’s worked with newer writers Lucius Shepard, Joe R. Lansdale and George Alec Effinger.

Picacio is among six finalists for one of science fiction’s highest honors, a Hugo Award for best professional artist, which will be announced at the Worldcon in Anaheim, Calif., in August. He’s also nominated for a Locus Award, which will be announced this weekend as part of the Science Fiction Museum’s Hall of Fame ceremonies in Seattle.

You can see his work and learn about his creative process in a new book, “Cover Story: The Art of John Picacio,” published by Austin’s MonkeyBrain Books ($39.95) and featuring an introduction by esteemed science fiction author Michael Moorcock. Picacio got his start by designing the cover for the 30th anniversary edition of Moorcock’s “Behold the Man” in 1996.

From later in the article
” Often, a single design is broken up into different grayscale oil paintings on heavyweight, cold-press illustration board. He then scans the paintings into his computer and uses Adobe Photoshop to create a composite that serves as the final illustration.”

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