Friday, December 30, 2011

Goodbye, 2011

I hear you knocking, 2012. Anyone else feel like 2011 was a zooming blur, even more than most years? From my humble corner of the art universe, this year was a helluva ride. I started it completing artwork for the 2012 George R. R. Martin / A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE Calendar and I'm ending it conceiving work for projects that are even more ambitious. The calendar was one of the greatest adventures of my life so far -- exhilarating, grueling, enlightening -- and in the end, amongst the most rewarding too.

Thanks to George, Parris, Bantam editor Anne Groell, and Bantam art director Dave Stevenson for sharing the journey. Thanks to all of the Brotherhood Without Banners and all of the GRRM fans worldwide who have been so emotional about the art, and championed it, since the July debut.

A note to the legions of ASoIaF and GAME OF THRONES fans, and especially my friends in the BWB -- I didn't know how you'd react to my artwork when I was busy drawing and painting. I didn't expect the worldwide roar that followed the artwork's debut. It meant the world to me, and I appreciate that the work connected with so many of you, even though the calendar was technically only available in North America. I spent a year in Westeros creating the art and I'd go back again in a heartbeat. Many of you have become my friends. We're all on the same team. The 2012 Calendar was the highlight of my 2011.

And yes, I did plenty of cover artworks too this year. Many of them won't be released until 2012. However, the highlights that were published in 2011 include ADMIRALTY: THE COLLECTED SHORT STORIES OF POUL ANDERSON (NESFA Press); the amazing YA debut from Ian McDonald, PLANESRUNNER (Pyr); and TIMES THREE by Robert Silverberg (Subterranean Press).

Karen Haber's MASTERS OF SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY ART released in June and featured galleries and interviews with some of the world's best sf/f artists, and yup, I was amongst 'em. If that cover art looks familiar, that's me too. Ditto the UK cover of SCI-FI ART NOW, edited by John Freeman, which featured my artwork for FAST FORWARD 2 (Pyr).

Grateful to meet so many new friends and fans on the road this year: Capricon (Chicago), Baycon (Santa Clara), Leprecon (Tempe), Worldcon (Reno), Bubonicon (Albuquerque), San Diego Comic Con, and World Fantasy Con (San Diego, again) -- you were terrific and I appreciated your hospitality and good times. Don't be strangers in the New Year.

Was nominated again for the Hugo Award this year in the Best Professional Artist category. Seven consecutive years nominated -- zero wins so far. Still no luck there. Very grateful to be nominated. We'll see what happens in 2012.

Grateful as well to be nominated for the World Fantasy Award, the Locus Award, and three Chesley Awards -- all in 2011, based on my 2010 published works. No wins this time, but I'm pretty proud of my 2011 body of published work. We'll see how it stacks up in the New Year.

And what about that New Year? Besides more sf/f covers, I'm working on two major(!), mega-illustration projects that will likely be unveiled in the coming months. I'm grateful to have a terrific wife and fabulous, 17-month-old daughter. 2011 was one of my most successful career years, despite the publishing industry experiencing seismic shifts. I've seen this coming and been discussing it with friends for the last 2 or 3 years. This was a transition year toward my art appearing in more places than just book covers. The 2012 George R. R. Martin Calendar was the first step toward expanding the venues where my art lives. Thanks to that success, I'll be pushing that envelope even more. I don't plan to stop doing sf/f book covers but you'll see my work in more places than just this field.

I've always thought artists worth their salt adapted and responded to their times. That's what I'm currently doing with my 2012 works. Don't be strangers and let me know what you think whether it's here, on Twitter or via Facebook. Very best to you and your families, and I'll see you online or on the road very soon. Happy 2012!