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Dominic Harman

Dominic Harman

Dominic Harman

Dominic Harman

I’ve now been illustrating professionally in the field of fantasy, science fiction, and horror book jackets, Calendars and CD covers, for over 20 years. In that time, as in any trade where you are building contacts and confidence, it wasn't plain sailing at the beginning. There were crashing waves of rejection from time to time, but it didn't sink me. I always felt that people appreciate the value of persistence and hard work and, after many years of grafting and honing my craft, publishers and clients took notice and started rewarding me with commissions.

 

My first professional sale was to the British science fiction magazine, Interzone in 1997. I then started working mainly for magazines doing cover work and interior illustrations. I then started getting book cover work and I landed my first major book cover deal in 2001 with Little, Brown. [Orbit] publishers for the first in the very popular series by Kelley Armstrong, Bitten.  More recently, with contacts established and awards to my name, commissions have steadily increased. I’ve won the British Science Fiction Award for best artwork three times, as well as the Asimov’s Science Fiction Award for Best Artist amongst others. Over the years I've worked for all the major book publishers such as Baen Books, Harper Collins, Simon and Schuster, Tor, Del Rey to name a few and with prodigious writers such as Clive Barker (Hellraiser, Nightbreed), Terry Pratchett (Discworld) and Phillip Pullman, (His Dark Materials, Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass), to name but a few. 

 

 

Starting out, an early influence was the work of Derek Riggs, who created the album covers of the British rock band Iron Maiden. I remember studying the details of the record covers, being so impressed by the dynamism and energy of his style.  I had an exciting chance meeting with him when I worked in an art shop In Brighton, England many years ago. After showing him my work he was very encouraging and thought I had potential. We’ve remained friends ever since. 

 

My inspirations and influences also include the works of the classical painters, Velazquez, Rubens, Caravaggio, and Rembrandt, among others, and also artists working in the fantasy scene: most notably Boris Vallejo and Frank Frazetta . I was first made aware of Frazetta's dramatic work on the covers of Robert E. Howard’s [Conan The Barbarian] books that my brother used to read. At a later age I saw Boris Vallejo's Stunning book, Mirage. I was enthralled by the allure and magnetism of his work and so it sealed my passion for a career in Fantasy and Science Fiction art.

 

Regarding medium, I began with pencils and oils early on then moved on to acrylics and airbrush. Later, I realized that just as I was getting into the book cover market I was witnessing the cusp of change and the global revolution of computers. Commercially in the book and magazine genre, going digital was the way forward for me after much consideration whether to stick with traditional mediums or embrace the new technology – I took to the digital approach very well  but I found computers are still only a tool [an incredibley sophisticated one at that!] but similar to the airbrush and the camera, it’s still the artist behind the tool that counts. 

 

 

 

Music is very important to me while I’m working. I listen to film scores and music by, for example, Vangelis, Thomas Newman, Tangerine Dream, and Basil Poledouris. I sometimes buy a soundtrack without having watched the film and that can be fascinating – not knowing the flavour and tone of the film and just being led by the music. It helps to have the right score or piece playing when I'm trying to get into the mindset for a particular job: sometimes it might be a creature cover or a science fiction piece, so that has an influence on the choice of music. Lately I have been listening and appreciating Podcasts about peoples Life stories as the spoken word [Audio books as well] are an entertaining addition to the music. 

 

 

 

As the commercial landscape changed forever with the advent of computers I moved away from traditional media for many years and focused on my digital cover work exclusivley. Over time I had been building up an appetite for using more traditional mediums again like when I was first starting out. It was becoming important for me to russurect my painting and drawing as it was a passion, a discipline and now something of a refreshing counterweight to the commercial work and all its trappings.   Its interesting to see that now after many moons have gone by I have come full circle. I was re-kindling old passions with my once-lost idols, Vallejo, Frazetta, Caravaggio, Rubens and Rembrandt. Around 10 years ago I went to Italy to study the old masters at the Angel Academy in Florence, Italy.  I attended the Caravaggio workshop taught by the legend, Michael John Angel. I loved the course and Maestro's method so much that I wanted to further develop my skills and understanding after I returned home so I continued my tuition with the absolutely brilliant Jay Blums who was formally an instructor at the Academy. Many exciting and fruitful years of learning later I was thrilled and honoured to be accepted into ILLUXCON  [America’s Premier Traditional Fantasy and Science Fiction Art Fair created by the awesome Patrick and Jeanie Wilshire] in Pennsylvania USA [2017]  I had a terrific show exhibiting alongside some of the greatest Icons in my field such as Boris Vallejo [meeting him was wonderful and surreal] and Brom whom I met also and was such a lovely guy.

 

I decided to go under a different name for this new traditional style, Emile Parks, to keep it separate from my digital work. I had built up a strong client and fan base that knew me for my digital work and even though its still under the umbrella of Fantasy, I thought it too different in its style and some of its subject matter to promote as Dominic Harman Illustration. So not to confuse, I separated them.

 

 

 

Regarding recent and up and coming projects. I have just finished an exciting childrens book cover which is being announced very soon! I am also working on a great Scicnce Fiction cover for the legends in the publishing industry, Baen Books! I have more oil paintings planned with my Emile Parks traditional style and also a great fantasy cover for the writer, Michael Ward [of  Destinty Quest fame!] So having not only the exciting digital work to keep me busy I also have the traditional paintings to keep me out of trouble!  I can’t wait to get stuck in!

 

 

Dominic Harman, October 2019

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