art

Vincent Chong mini-Q&A

Fresh from his recent World Fantasy Award win and just in time for Christmas, Vincent Chong – one of my favourite artists – has announced he’s releasing limited-edition prints of some of his work, including the art he did for editions of The Shining and Dr Sleep.

Vincent Chong illustration for “The Shining” limited edition

Even if those don’t take your fancy, his art is gorgeous (I have a ridiculous amount of it around the house, including a print of his “Fallen Angel” – natch – in my kitchen) and he has a huge portfolio of work available as standard prints too.

And because he’s not just a fabulous artist but a lovely guy, he’s also popped by the blog to answer a few questions. Like he had a choice…

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Q: Who are your favourite artists (or what are your favourite works of art)?

A: At the moment one of my favourite artists is Shaun Tan. His illustrated story books are simply beautiful and I love all the imagination and touches of surrealism that go into each one.

Q: Who or what do you think has inspired you the most?

A: Dave McKean‘s work has probably been the single biggest inspiration to me; it was seeing his covers for the Sandman comics (in the The Sandman Dust Covers collection) that first opened my eyes to the possibilities of combining digital techniques with traditional ones and what you could achieve by blending the two. It played a big part in shaping the style I developed and the techniques I’ve ended up using for my own work since.

Q: Is digital art more democratic than, for instance, a watercolour?

A: I’ve always liked the idea of anyone being able to own a copy of the artwork that isn’t seen as ‘less-than’ the original in some way, rather than there being one original that only a few could enjoy.

 Q: If you could illustrate any book, what would it be?

A: Nothing in particular springs to mind right now… I used to think I’d quite like to do my own reinterpretation of classic children’s books such as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. But having illustrated so many authors’ books over the years, I guess what I’d really like to do is come up with my own story to illustrate.

Q: What interests you as an artist? Do you find yourself coming back to the same kind of themes or ideas?

A: I like creating imagery that has various layers to it, and perhaps could be interpreted in different ways, or contain small details that people pick up on repeated viewings. I also love interesting textures so I continue to incorporate a lot of them into my work. Overall, I think my approach is more about building atmosphere and emotion in my art rather than producing images that are overly polished.

Q: What’s the last book you read, and the last film you saw?

A: The Death of Bunny Munro by Nick Cave and Thor: The Dark World.

 Q: What are the best and worst things about your job?

A: Some of the best things…being able to get up whenever I want! And also not having to work alongside people I don’t like or becoming embroiled in inevitable office politics. And some of the worst things…getting a bit stir crazy working on my own at home and not having anyone around to have a natter with when I want!

Q: Finally… tell us a secret?

A: My biggest secret is that % &@?’£ ^&$**@ $*%^!!!

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Vincent Chong is an award-winning freelance illustrator and designer.  Since 2004 he has brought his creative vision and distinctive visual style to a wide range of projects for both print and the web.  Currently living and working in the UK, his art and design has been published internationally and can be seen on book covers, magazines, CD packaging, websites, flash games and book trailers.  He has worked for clients around the world including HarperCollins and Little, Brown and has illustrated the works of  authors such as Ray Bradbury and Stephen King.

You can follow his blog here.

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All Un-Quiet on the Western Front

The last time I was heard from, I was about to venture up to EdgeLit 2 in Derby, wasn’t I? Did you think you’d lost me? No such luck…

EdgeLit was fun and very, very hot indeed. I got to hang out with some of my lovely writer-friends, which was brilliant, and I really enjoyed the panel on urban fantasy’s popularity, which covered everything from Buffy as the archetypal “kick-ass” female character (and the fact that she works as such because she has flaws: she may be able to put a vampire through a wall, but she still gets grounded…) to the perception that urban fantasy and paranormal romance are the same thing – and where that came from. For what it’s worth, I strongly believe that they are separate sub-genres with a hefty amount of cross-over in both directions – but that doesn’t necessarily mean that one has to contain the other. But maybe that’s just me. Moving on.

Anyone who follows me on Twitter or Facebook will probably know about the racing. As I’ve mentioned on here before (and whinge about at length anywhere I can possibly get the words out) my husband is the proud owner (and driver) of a race car, which is running in the UK Time Attack series. This means I spend a lot of weekends in the paddock at racetracks, and last weekend was no exception: that was Oulton Park in Cheshire.

This time didn’t go entirely to plan, as you’ll see from the video…

It might not look like much from inside the car – and he was absolutely fine, thankfully – but standing on the other side of the track and knowing that not only has there been a crash but that your husband’s is the only car not back in the pits (and watching the track doctors go screeching off in their car…) is a deeply, deeply unpleasant thing.

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(Photo: Togethia Media / James Young)

Still, driver fine. Car not so much, but there’s a few weeks before the next race – at which the car will have some shiny new livery.

BFR new car livery

Isn’t he pretty? Yet again, that’s the work of my fantastic cover artist, Pye Parr. (The large blank space, in case you’re wondering, is for the series sponsor stickers which have to be applied to the door of every car competing.)

Minor catastrophe aside, the highlight of the event was watching the vintage F1 cars on the track – one an old Schumacher car, and one an old Senna one. Because I’m part of the race team, I get a pit wall pass meaning I’m free to come and go in the garages and pits as well as out onto the safety wall dividing the pits and the track – and for a long-time F1 fan, being able to watch (and hear) them go past from there was something else.

F1 car

Away from motor racing, I popped in to Kim Curran and Bryony Pearce’s launch for their new Strange Chemistry books, CONTROL and THE WEIGHT OF SOULS at Forbidden Planet. It was enormous fun, and it was fantastic to see so many people turn out to support them – including a big group of teen readers. I was lucky enough to read a draft of Kim’s book, “Control” a little while ago, and thoroughly recommend it. She’s one of the most exciting new YA authors working in genre, and I hope there are many more books to come.

Speaking of new books, I’ve been popping up here and there to talk about REBELLION a little more. You can find me lurking at Chuck Wendig’s Terribleminds, talking about the challenges of REBELLION (and my favourite paragraph) as well as talking about angels at Winged Reviews. And if you’re interested in the “story behind the story”, pop over to Upcoming4me to find out about REBELLION’s history.

I’ll also be doing a couple of things at the upcoming Nine Worlds convention in London in a few weeks – but I’ll post on that separately. I’m not sure I can compete with the car…

BLOOD AND FEATHERS: REBELLION cover

REBELLION final cover

Once again, I’ve got the amazing talent of Pye Parr to thank for this, as well as the team at Solaris Books. It perfectly matches the feel of the book, and (for once) I’m kind of lost for words.

I. LOVE. IT.

(And I hope you do too…)

You can pre-order the book from Amazon (UK) (US), BN.comWaterstones and, of course, your local bookshop.

The angels are back…

Featherbomb

What’s Pye Parr up to now…?

featherbomb2

 

By the way, if you’re interested in reading a bit more about how Pye works, and how the first BLOOD AND FEATHERS cover evolved, there’s a really detailed interview with him over on the Shewolf reads site, including his mock-ups for concepts which didn’t quite make the cut…

The Nice List

My WordPress dashboard is snowing. That can only mean one thing: it must be nearly Christmas.

Look, I can’t help it – and if you think that’s a bad way of judging the start of the holiday season, you should meet Other Half. He declares it to be officially Christmas when one of his online forums puts up the twinkly fairy lights gif around the border of the page. So, you know…

Anyway. Christmas is rolling towards us like a tinsel-strewn juggernaut, and this means it’s prime festive shopping season. Ever helpful, I’ve come up with a couple of suggestions for gifts for those really difficult people to buy for. I warn you: these are, largely, Things What My Friends Have Made – but you shouldn’t let their questionable judgement in hanging around with me put you off. Everything on this list is awesome, and would make an amazing present – and frankly, if you can’t plug your mates’ stuff on your blog, then where can you do it?

So, without further ado, I present (see what I did there?)…

THE NICE LIST

(for the sake of simplicity, the majority of these links are Amazon physical ones. Feel free to sub in the physical / ebook retailer of your choice….)

 – For action junkies:

SHIFT – Kim Curran

DEPARTMENT 19: THE RISING – Will Hill

Scott Tyler and Jamie Carpenter are, between them, as average as your average teenage boy gets. Except they aren’t… because as you soon discover if you pick up either of these two books, Scott has the power to change any decision he’s ever made and Jamie’s a vampire hunter with a secret government department. Gory, gripping and action-packed, these books are brilliantly paced and plotted. And if you can’t choose between them… why not pick both?

 

 – For Doomsday Preppers:

THE TESTIMONY – James Smythe

Let me tell you a story about this book (in which a blast of static is heard by almost everyone on the planet, followed by a voice. Is it God? Is it aliens? Is it a mass hallucination..?). I took this on holiday with me earlier this year, and it was the last book I read before heading home. I was sitting in the airport at the Seychelles, which is a tiny little thing, at around midnight, waiting for my flight to be called and reading the last couple of chapters of THE TESTIMONY. There were one or two people already in the departure hall, but we were the last flight out for the night so it was pretty quiet.

And then someone, somewhere, leaned on a button and switched on the PA. There was a burst of deafening white noise… and nothing else.

Not that it mattered, because by that time I had dropped my book and hidden under the departure lounge seating.

That’s how good this book is.

It’s complicated, twisty… and utterly terrifying.

 

 – For Western fans & short story addicts: 

A TOWN CALLED PANDEMONIUM – Jurassic Press

I’ve been involved in the Pandemonium project (one of my stories appeared in the apocalypse-themed anthology, now out of print) but this one’s a different animal altogether. A shared-world, weird Western anthology with some of my favourite writers involved, it will transport you to a town with secrets, tragedies and horrors. So what are you waiting for? Saddle up…

 

For urban explorers:

THE CITY’S SON – Tom Pollock

Urban explorers know that cities have a life of their own – and London is no exception. But you’ve never imagined it quite like this. Tom Pollock gives you a version of London where street lights come to life, where the ghosts of trains ride the rails and where the building sites scarring the surface of the city lay the foundations for something sinister…

One part urban fantasy, one part New Weird, one part utterly itself, read this and you’ll never look at the city in the same way again.

 

 – For art buffs:

Vincent Chong prints

Nominated for a World Fantasy Award last year, Vincent Chong has produced book covers for Stephen King, Joe Hill and China Mieville among others, as well as illustrating collector’s editions of some incredible novels (I have a copy of THE CLUB DUMAS, which is one of my favourite books and is probably the most expensive copy of a novel I’ve ever bought!). I have a bunch of his prints, including one (predictably, I guess) of a fallen angel, and they’re beautiful.  Also, I have this as my desktop right now, because I love it.

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So there you go. Yes, they’re all my friends – and I’m utterly unapologetic about recommending their work, because every single one of them is immensely talented. You won’t go wrong with any of them.

 

Best blog comment *ever*

So you’ll remember the other week, I was bemoaning the general lack of letters we send to each other these days?

Well. Look what landed on my doormat.

It’s a postcard from Chris Roberts (better known as Dead Clown Art) who’s a US-based artist specialising in mixed-media and found-object pieces. I met him at last year’s World Horror Convention in Texas, and he’s an incredibly talented guy – as well as a real sweetie.  And not a little nuts, given the comment on the back: “Not electronic. Go ahead… put your tongue on it. No shock!”

See? It takes a true artist to point out that the real problem with e-mails is that you can’t lick them…

Angel Face

So, I have a new favourite page on the internet.

It’s this one.

Yes, kids. That is the “Blood & Feathers” page on Amazon’s UK site (what’s that? You want to see the US one? Oh, go on then... I like that one too.) You may have seen it before. Perhaps you have. In that case, you should go and look again. Seriously, because I’m worried that if I take my eyes off it for a second, it’ll scuttle off somewhere and hide. And sooner or later, I’m going to need to blink.

I have a cover. And it’s, like, out there. With pictures and words and cool stuff.

There’s still one or two tweaks that need doing, so the Amazon sites are likely to update once they’re complete, but–give or take the odd detail–this is how it’ll look.

I’ve been sitting on the draft version since late September, when we’d talked about ideas for it at the Solaris offices… and then the amazing Simon Parr (who is also Pye. It’s a thing. I don’t ask. He may well be some kind of gestalt art/comics/awesome guru) went off, had a think, and came back with what you see there.

I absolutely adore it. It’s gorgeous and feels completely right and you must all immediately rush over and tell @PyeParr that he is, basically, a genius.

Keep an eye out for the final version, which I hope I can put a big, shiny high-res copy of on here soon so you can see it properly.

Flynn Rider totally approves.

Cat & Mouse

I can’t decide if it’s “Art”, a showpiece or just plain bonkers. Even so, it’s fabulous.

 I would, admittedly, need armour myself before I even contemplated putting my cat in the same room as one of these (when he was a kitten, we tried to put one of those cat-harness-and-leash things on him… Not good. Not good at all. Still, I recovered the sight in my left eye surprisingly quickly.) but aren’t these amazing?

Cat & Mouse armour

The medievalist in me is sitting here thinking: “Want”, and the crazy cat lady is sitting here thinking, “But would it stop the endless, endless shedding… or would he just start shedding tinfoil instead?” (Mind you, crazy cat lady may be confusing armoured cats with… I don’t know, cyborg cats. Which is a whole other level of cool-slash-terrifying…..)

Un-Think-able

If you remember my post on Polly Morgan from a little while back, you’ll know that I often like my art a little, well… odd.

Step up Nancy Fouts.

Surreal, whimsical and occasionally confrontational (one of her pieces, Holy War, is a hand-grenade covered in religious iconography, and her version of Little Red Riding Hood appears to be on her way through the woods to a Klan meeting), she recently launched her upcoming London show by sending a coffin adorned with a floral tribute through central London in a hearse. Which in and of itself isn’t enough to draw attention… unless you know that the flowers spelled out “Bastard”.

She likes to re-engineer objects (take her Thinker/Degas mash-up…) to make the viewer reconsider their own prejudices and assumptions about the world – as well as towards the objects themselves.

Also: it looks groovy.

Her show, Un-Think, is on at the Pertwee, Anderson & Gold Gallery in Soho, and there’s a photo gallery of some of the pieces on the BBC’s website.

Tentacular-Spectacular!

Dan Hillier: "Deeps" c/o Under Vhoorl's Shadow

Art week continues.

Tonight, it’s the turn of Dan Hillier. Not enough people know his work, although I seem to remember he did make the BFA longlist for this year.

He specialises in “altered engravings” – meaning he takes an original engraving and, umm, alters it; usually by adding skulls or tentacles. They’re… well, they’re eldritch.

We’ve got Mother and Father hanging at either end of our dining table, and they tend to draw comments. These have ranged from: “Hmmm” to “Awesome” to “Good god, they’re revolting.”  And just like with Ben Baldwin’s stuff, there’s a couple more I have my eye on.

I’m very fond of the ones we have – again, something which draws comment: my raging squid-phobia is well-noted, so why on earth would I want tentacles on my wall? Because I just do. And because I love these pictures.

Cthulutastic.