The tricky part about creating a best-of artist list?
…you can’t usually post an artist’s creations without ticking them off and destroying copyright protections.
It’s ok. We’ll figure something out.
Here’s ten artists who’ve shined a powerful light on me (and my walls.) They’re in no particular order.
* * *
Allen Williams, master of graphite powder, lord of graphite, is among the most interesting illustrators and conceptual artists I’ve ever stumbled upon. He’s done film work, but the works I’m struck by are his weird, ghoulish drawings, posted regularly for sale right here.
My absolute favorite piece by Allen? This monster here – The Lotus King.
Back in my days of playing Magic the Gathering, I discovered the best part of the game is the card art. A host of excellent illustrators toils to create some pretty fascinating monsters, angels, and otherworldly entities, all for players’ enjoyment. RK Post’s art is likely my favorite. His sometimes harsh, often dark images bring MtG to life.
His website is here. He creates unique alternate versions of his MtG cards here.
And one of my favorite RK Magic cards is:
If RK Post is my favorite MtG illustrator, Terese Nielsen is a close, close second. She blends strong realism with wild, barely controlled elements, and I love it. Angels, goddesses, beautiful women, strong men, powerful animals…she’s a master of them all.
Her website is here. A fine selection of her best Magic the Gathering cards is here.
Bastien LeCouffe DeHarme
Sometimes one stumbles upon an artist whose concepts and execution demand immediate attention. Bastien is one such person. Based in France, he specializes in women, often mixing them with mechanical and/or fantastical elements. His themes are often dark and tormented (my favorite) and his execution when blending realism and the abstract is stunning.
I have several DeHarme prints on my walls. Just sayin’.
Enough of my gushing. Go look at his portfolio right here. And yes, some of his work is NSFW.
Sadly, the lord of the Xenomorphs has passed to the next world. Thankfully his creations remain. Surely most people have watched the Alien movies, and yet H.R. (Hans Ruedi) Giger created far more than just a few creepy extraterrestrials. His mastery of biomechanical, necromantic paintings, sculpture, and other media are unparalleled.
I first discovered Giger’s work (Meister und Margeritha) on the cover of a Danzig album.
A selection of Giger’s art books is here.
Necronom IV. (Photo: H.R. Giger)
It’s true. I accidentally discovered Jeremy Mann years ago while Facebook stalking a mutual fan. Whatever. Simply put, Mann’s oil paintings and photography are stunning. He specializes in portrait work and breathtaking cityscapes, sometimes blending his subject matter with a dark edge. Like most of my favorite artists, he walks the line between utter realism and abstract fantasy. Just look at his women here (NSFW.) And his unbelievably haunting cityscapes, implying rain and twilight, are here.
It’s worth mentioning Mann prefers not to sell prints. You’ll have to hit up one of his galleries or buy one of his premium (and personalized) art books if you really, really want to be a fan.
It’s probable that during the creation of the Lord of the Rings movies, Peter Jackson could not have chosen a better illustrator than John Howe (and Alan Lee.) John’s sketches, landscapes, and character work captured LOTR’s theme in a way perhaps no other could match.
His website is a bit clunky. Doesn’t matter. Check it out anyway.
It’s definitely worth mentioning that John Howe is also an experienced and talented swordsman. He believes the best way to understand objects and motion is to hold, use, and touch the object to be drawn or painted. I tend to agree. Completely.
You owe it to yourself to check out the special features on the LOTR DVD boxed set. Kick back and check out John Howe and Alan Lee’s superior art
The second half of LOTR’s dynamic art duo is Alan Lee. He’s a master of watercolor paintings, often depicting surreal landscapes with incredible detail. His creation of faerie-like forest scenes, with writhing branches and strange, ethereal colors, is particularly inspiring. Alan not only worked as an illustrator for the movies, but also has his hands in several Tolkien-related art books, all of which are worth every penny.
Chase Alan’s fascinating art on Facebook.
An interesting bio of Alan appears here.
I count myself lucky to have found (again by accident) Marcela’s art via Facebook. Marcela is a photo-illustrator specializing in digital recreations of stunning photos. While I don’t typically adore digital art, for Marcela (and a few others) I make exceptions. Her work, especially her women and surreal natural scenes, provide elegance and eye-candy all art-lovers can likely appreciate.
You need to check Marcela’s website here. Especially the stunning piece ‘Hydroponic.’ Thank me later. 🙂
Lady Makepeace is a humble dweller of the central Georgian woodlands, and just so happens to be my personal favorite cover artist. Yeah…I’m a fanboy; her painting Autumn Waters hangs right next to my favorite art pieces at home. She’s an illustrator, using both digital and traditional media to portray mythical creatures, magical birds, wondrous woodlands, and the occasional terrifying sci-fi monstrosity.
Her website is here.
Amanda has created stunning cover work for several of my novels, including:
My own not-nearly-as-amazing-as-the-ten-artists-above art can be found here.
J Edward Neill