Michael Whelan, born
1950 in metro LA. Specializing in science fiction and fantasy illustrations,
he has done book covers for many of the notable writers. He currently lives in
Connecticut. You can visit his site, or see a collection of his works.
|Michael Whelan 2005
Born June 29, 1950, in Culver City, CA.
Whelan lived in many locations throughout
the West during his childhood, moving with his family on an average of once every 18 months. Thus, he attended five elementary
schools, three junior highs, and four high schools. Most of the places he lived at were near the California coast, though he lived briefly near the
White Sands Proving Ground (missile testing facility) in New Mexico, in a suburb of Denver, Colorado, and other places. Since his father was employed in the aerospace industry and worked on secret space
technology projects "home" for Whelan was often near missile test sites, Air Force bases, and other locations related to aerospace
development. [One of his earliest memories is of being put in bed for an afternoon nap when he was a toddler, dozing to the
drone of over flying aircraft on a warm afternoon.] Rocket launchings -- and the occasional spectacular failures -- were a
part of his life growing up, as were the SF movies, books, and magazines that suffused American culture during the Whelan
graduated from Oak Grove High School in San Jose, CA and from San Jose State University in 1973 as a "President's Scholar"
with a BA in Art (Painting). He then went briefly to The Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles but quit when he received his first professional
assignment as a book cover illustrator in 1974. Realizing that virtually all his potential commissions would be coming from
Whelan left California for the East coast and has been living in
Connecticut since 1975. He has been married to Audrey
Price for more than 20 years and they have 2 children: Alexa, 21 (now a student at Barnard College, Columbia University) and Adrian, age 13.
Whelan's other interests include the martial
arts, history, the digital arts, and electronic music.
has been interested in the imagery of the fantastic since his early childhood. Combined with a love of drawing and painting,
Michael turned this fascination into a career as the premier fantasy illustrator of the last 24 years. He has created hundreds
of paintings seen on book covers, calendars, magazines, and record albums.
During that time, Whelan garnered virtually
all available illustration or art awards in the international fields of science fiction and fantasy. For example, he is a
fourteen-time HUGO (World Science Fiction) Award winner and three-time (the maximum) winner of the HOWARD (World Fantasy)
Award for Best Artist. The readers of LOCUS magazine, the #1 professional and fan resource publication for the Fantasy and
Science Fiction genre, have awarded Whelan "Best Professional Artist" twenty-one years running. Several publications have
named Whelan as one of the 100 most influential people in the field, a list which includes authors, editors, directors, special
effects masters, etc. In 1994 he won a Grumbacher Gold Medal and in 1997 he was awarded a Gold Medal from the Society of Illustrators
and an Award for Excellence in the Communication Arts Annual. The September 1998 Art Forum International Magazine referred
to one of his works as "an absolute stunner," and continued, "Whelan excels in creating dead worlds that are tentatively beginning
to flower again..." Most recently, he was awarded a Spectrum Annual gold medal for his painting "The Reach."
Nevertheless, throughout his illustration
career Michael Whelan has found time to work on "self-commissioned" pieces not initially intended for publication, created
solely to realize personal artistic themes. These non-illustrative works differ somewhat in theme and execution from his cover
art (though he is quick to point out that all his artwork is, at its most fundamental level, about creating a "sense of wonder").
Most closely allied to the scope and feeling of what is referred to as contemporary "Visionary Art," his gallery painting
is imbued with a strong sense of the mystical or dreamlike, and often employs symbolism to convey themes and ideas. After
successful one-man shows of his personal works in 1997 and 1999, he now devotes his time exclusively to his gallery work.
original paintings have been displayed and sold at galleries and museums throughout the United States and around the world. He has had three art
books published, the most recent being THE ART OF MICHAEL WHELAN, a deluxe 208-page collection of Whelan art published by
Bantam Books. Posters, prints and other items featuring Whelan art are available through Glass Onion Graphics in Danbury, CT.
|With Isaac ASIMOV