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1999 by Ernest Lilley

SF Artist: Bob Eggleton

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Watch Out, Jar Jar (Star Wars Storybooks) (Merchandising); ISBN: 037580028X ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.23 x 8.02

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Above: Event Horizons Screen Savers Bob Eggleton

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Red Moon

"HP Lovecraft's most famous creature.(Pronounced K'-thoo-lou) Done for the cover of WEIRD TALES." - Bob Eggleton.

Reproductions of this painting are for sale, framed or not, in the Novaspace gallery, where artwork from Bob Eggleton are exposed. Picture Copyright by Bob Eggleton

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Bob Eggleton with his latest Hugo Award

 

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SF Artist: Bob Eggleton - interview by Wendy Mitchell

eggleton1.jpg (29923 bytes)I recently interviewed Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Monster artist, Bob Eggleton. Bob's art can be seen adorning an incredibly diverse collection of publications; everything from novels, Magic cards, and children's books, to collections of his own work. He has done covers for many top authors, including Isaac Asimov, Greg Bear, Arthur C. Clarke and H.G. Wells, as well as Vernor Vinge's A Deepness In The Sky. (SFRevu Mar/Apr 3.03/4) - Wendy Mitchell

SFR: What got you into SF/Fantasy art?

Bob Eggleton: Well, I always liked this stuff and I liked drawing. It was just natural the two would come together. I was a big comic book collector and I always wanted to be a comic book artist(and I did do it for Dark Horse Comics for an issue of Godzilla). So I figured at ten that I would like to do this for a living. Then I started seeing the covers to SF and Fantasy books and the rest is sort of a natural history.

SFR: Whose art inspires you?

BE: Rather than say a lot of modern guys, some of my peers and such, which include Moebius, Geiger, Frazetta,  I would go back to where they get their inspiration from, the masters, all long dead but their legacy living on. I like Gustave Moreau, George Inness, Albert Bierstadt, Arnold Bocklin, J.M.W. Turner and the impressionists. Turner was a master of light and color, he is very influential and inspiring to my more recent work.

Moreau was doing Fantasy Art before anyone was calling it that. I like Eugene Delacroix and most of the lesser known Hudson River painters. Thomas Moran...he's great. I could go on and on. I am not so overtaken by the Pre-Raphaelites as many of my peers are. I seem to get a different inspiration. A couple of contemporary artists I like are from Japan: Yoshitaka Amano and Noryoshi Ohrahi. Amano designs stuff for anime as well being just this fantastic artist. Ohrahi is a fantastic SF artist there.

SFR: Do you consider your work to be fine art, or is it strictly illustration "work"? Do you do art for yourself as well as illustration assignments?

BE: It's both and neither sometimes! I am more fine art in thinking and execution of late. The differentiation I make is this: Fine art invites you to make up a story, Illustration tells you a story. Fine art asks more from the viewer. I tend to spend more time on fine art and less on illustration. Illustration is almost purely a commercial venture. My goal is to sell the book. To help make it attractive and say something about the book. For a long while I used to do a lot of illustration - real commercial stuff. It ran my life. Now, I found short cuts in getting it done and this buys me time for my fine art. I am pleased to say I have completed about four paintings in the last six months - totally for me - and various sketches and smaller works. I am putting these and about four more in a new artbook Greetings From Earth due out in Summer 2000. It's nice to do work for yourself. Some people need to clear their plates off for like, two years in order to make some art for themselves. I can just squeeze it in, when I can, and I am quite happy with the results. The fine art stuff is some fantasy, but, largely it's landscapes and stuff. I like painting outside, down by the ocean. It's very romantic and creative

SFR: What's your favorite piece of art that you have done, and why?

BE: My next one. Always. I have a few landmark pieces. I like a lot of the work in Book of Sea Monsters. I like work of mine that is successful and shows growth, and not stagnation. I see all kinds of things wrong with a piece, even when I am doing it, and it's hard to do anything about it sometimes, because even though it's wrong, it looks right. But overall I am happy with my stuff. I just finished a large canvas showing a castle and some high cliffs and rainbows with waterfalls. The thing is, I used my late Dad's ashes into the base mixture and created this great texture onto which I made all kinds of rock and mountain textures. He always said he wanted to be in my pictures, to walk into them and be part of them. Now he is. I am really pleased with this piece. I think I like most pieces now that I don't use much or any airbrushing. It's all brushes, all me, and that tactile touching of brush/paint to canvas, or pencil to paper is the very tension that generates my best.

SFR: How did winning all those Hugo awards affect your life? Any major changes in job quality or quantity, the way people approach you, your self image?

BE: Well, winning ONE of them is just such a nice compliment. It means to me, people like what I am doing. And so, I just keep moving as an artist. It doesn't change me at all. Really. I am still a fan of the genre and I remain who I am, who else am I supposed to be? People always see me the same way, which is good. I could never be stuck up or aloof. I know some people-other pros-who say I should be more that way. I won't ..I can't. I just do my art and have fun and always stay connected to the people who like what I do. Publishers still use me...my fees haven't gone up that much. I am at a point I really like: I do a lot of different kinds of books and stories. I do maybe two Fantasy books and one Hard SF in the span of five weeks or something. It's a nice balance.

SFR: Any interesting Hugo stories?

BE: Well, the classic is me deciding not to go to the l994 Winnipeg Worldcon. And that one I won the Hugo for my first time. So, I promptly -at 1:30 am-got on a plane and bolted to Canada to get it and thank everyone in person. Which, I got to do as they re-presented the award at the masquerade. It was so impulsive I don't remember how I exactly got there.

SFR: Do you think Sci-Fi/Fantasy artists get enough recognition for their contributions to the genre?

BE: I think this has changed for the better of late. Of course, in the comics genre, art is so integral to the story, more so sometimes, that artists are just flooded with recognition. I think ASFA giving the Chesley Awards has increased people's awareness. I think SF art shows have also done this. Remember, 30 years ago, the art shows were either non existent or very small, artists were not invited as GoH's at cons.. and so forth. The thing I think that doesn't do artists any good is being stereotyped into doing one subject or another. And then they get criticized for going in another direction.

SFR: How is the Book of Sea Monsters doing, and when is the sequel due? What else is coming up?

BE: Okay, I have a Star Wars kids book due out in May. It's called Watch Out Jar Jar . Can't say much more than that, but it was fun to do. Also, I have begun work on Greetings From Earth, a second collection of my work that features unpublished work as I said before. The idea is my art and quotes from famous people, as sort of a flow of consciousness kind of thing. The Book Of Sea Monsters sold out in the U.S. It is being reprinted and it's doing very well. Certain critics in SF refused to review it, calling it "Associational" and not genre. But, I didn't need their words, it did well anyway. We are planning The Book Of Sea Mysteries which follows up more monsters and some creepy stuff in general like The Flying Dutchman and The Devil's Triangle.

SFR: Who is your favorite monster?

BE: Godzilla. Absolutely. Both versions, although there is the true original. Godzilla was created by the ignorance of man, to nuclear weapons. And then, man dares ask why he unleashes his destruction on them. He's an anti-hero of sorts. And like I have said, he is the side in all of us who gets pissed off and wants to smash through a few buildings that get in the way.

Okay, later he turned into more of a superhero, particularly in the l970's films, but honestly, I don't think Godzilla would have survived as an icon of Pop Culture had he not changed. Later in the 80's he was brought back to life. But remember, those seven films (1984-95) happen after his original l954/56(American version) film. The twenty years of adventures (l955-75) happened in another universe so to speak. Godzilla has about three universes, if you count the USA Godzilla. So he's tough, he's a survivor of not just weapons, but critics and film budgets. Like the morning star he is always there. And that is why I like Godzilla.

SFR: What do you read? Do you have a favorite SF movie?

BE: I read a lot of magazines, on movies and movie making, art books and books on art techniques. I have many favorite SF movies, my most recent one is The Matrix. It's terrific. For sure a "rebel" movie. I also liked Dark City among recent entries. Armageddon was terrific and 2001 will ALWAYS be great

SFR: How did you get started collecting Godzilla?

BE: I started collecting Godzilla toys thanks to my mother, she bought me the old Ideal Godzilla game in the late 60's for 99 cents when I was sick. She said that the monster looked like a dinosaur and she got it because of that. That same game now sells for $400. I know because mine was damaged and falling apart and I bought another one in near mint condition.

SFR: How big is your Godzilla collection? Which are your favorites? How does someone start collecting?

BE: I have about 500 Godzilla related items. My faves are usually the older toys, such as the Bullmark Toys(Japan) from the early 70's and also the Bandai toys you can buy today. I also have a few Popy toys from the late 70's. I have a walking RC Godzilla that roars and looks just like a two foot high version of the rubber suit they use.

You can start with collecting Godzilla at Kay Bee Toys. They have Godzilla toys from Trendmasters that are in fact, discounted. They have toys from the old Godzilla and the new USA Godzilla. Polar Lights, a toy company will be reissuing the Godzilla Go Cart from the old Aurora model from the 60's as well as a gorgeous new model of USA Godzilla. This company has reissued the old Aurora models in the same box art and instruction sheets - it's the 60's all over, just the price is more expensive.

SFR: Eggleton as a collectable: How much does it cost to own an Eggleton?

BE: Well, depending on what you want, anywhere from $500. to $5000.!!!

I sell a lot of sketches at Cons. The nice thing about selling the smaller sketches and drawings is that anyone can buy them. And, it means that someone can come home from a Con with a little one-of-a kind souvenir of the weekend. Many artists, outside SF toss their sketches, but most SF artists save them, frame them and put them up at lower prices so anyone can buy them, also they give the viewer a look into the creative part of a piece of art. Save for a handful of high roller art buyers, sales at conventions over the last five years have not been all that great. I see this as a result of less disposable cash on hand and, a younger set of convention attendees who simply don't have much cash to spend, which isn't their fault. It was better in the l980's.

Although, Lunacon and a few others have reported the best artshow sales in quite a few years of late, so maybe things are on an upswing.

SFR: Should people collect SF art? Who do you collect?

BE: Everyone should collect art. Art makes one's life just better. It's a very relaxing thing to look at a painting and know that you reacted to it and bought it. I don't have room to collect art much, I have too many of my own pictures around. That and monster toys. I do collect resin model kits, which are castings, usually limited, of sculptures. I really am just obsessive about my stuff. My monsters and fun stuff make life worth living, because let's face it, life really does suck when you get right down to it and it's the little things that make it worthwhile. I didn't ask to be born, I'm just living out the program as it were, and I am decorating my life with goofy stuff that somehow doesn't make sense but I like it.

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