|SF Art: The Chesleys
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All pictures © Jill Bauman
|Artist: Jill Bauman
interview by Wendy Mitchell
Jill Bauman has been professionally illustrating since the late seventies. She has been nominated five times for World Fantasy Awards, and this year, she was nominated for three Chesley Awards, including best body of work. You can find her art just about everywhere, from the covers of the major publishers' books and magazines, to various small press publications. She has illustrated the works of many notable authors, including Harlan Ellison, Michael Moorcock, Ramsey Campbell, and Stephen King, just to name a few.
Jill has a distinctive style. She keeps her work simple and to the point. You will
find no clutter, or vibrating, neon color backgrounds in her art. Her horror work, in
particular, can set the mood in a subtle, but chilling way. Jill's bold, graphic images
immediately grab your attention, giving you a brief glimpse of what's to come once you
start reading. - Wendy Mitchell
SFR) How did you get started in the Sci-fi/Fantasy field?
JB) I had been painting on my own, having my own vision. I didn't know at the time that there was a name for it, let alone a place for it. A friend at the time saw my paintings and introduced me to the world of conventions; Lunacon was its name.
SFR) How is the illustration market these days? Are there more or less jobs than when you started?
JB) The market for illustration has changed radically as technology grew at such an amazing pace. I find there are less book cover assignments than there were just a few short years ago. The switch to computer generated images seems to be just as satisfactory to art directors and editors as painted art. If anything, they can get the work quicker and less expensive. In the end the public is attracted to an appealing cover and the manner in which it is done, doesn't matter. The publishers are only concerned about sales.
SFR) So, computers affect the way you approach the job market.
JB) Yes, the job market has to be considered very differently. This doesn't mean that illustrators cannot find work, they just have to find more avenues for their work. I believe in the end, original paintings will be more valuable, for there will be less created. I believe the public will want to buy this original art for their collections and that there is still an appreciation for hand-created art.
SFR)What do you find helps sell your work? Is it a particular style, subject, humor...?
JB) Since I have done mostly front cover art, I believe that in order to make a cover appealing to sell the book, there have to be certain criteria set for the art. First, I like bold, single focus imagery whenever possible. The art has to have some "eye catching" quality. I prefer more surreal or original imagery. I have seen absolutely beautiful paintings hanging in a show, but when I see the cover proof next to it, the whole beauty and detail of the art is totally lost in a cover a bit over four inches wide. An artist has to always be aware of the purpose of the art. If it is a commercial product, it must be designed for that usage.
SFR) What is your favorite subject?
JB) Horror painting is still my favorite subject. I love some of the imagery. Lately, I have been doing more mystery and that too lets me get more symbolic and surreal. I prefer a bold, strong, single focused look.
SFR) What was you best job?
JB) My best jobs are always those where I can create a piece of art that I am inspired to do and still meets the requirements of the commercial assignment. Many years ago, I did a piece of art for Berkley Books, titled "A Glow of Candles" for a book by Charles L. Grant. It was nearing my birthday at the time and the image of the clown on stage with a melting candle on his head was a birthday present to me. It felt really good to do this one.
SFR) Worst job?
JB) My worst jobs are those that are art directed to death. Sometimes, there are so many people making decisions on a piece of art, that in the end it lacks any cohesiveness and it shows in the end result. My worst jobs are never shown and some were thrown out.
SFR) Do you think the Sci-Fi/Fantasy market is a "man's world?"
JB) I don't know if this field is a man's world, there are just more men in the field. If more women decided to learn their craft and venture into the field, I'm sure they would get the work also.
SFR) Do you think artists in this field get enough recognition?
JB) I think that science fiction/fantasy art is incredibly imaginative with so many very talented artists creating this type of art, but the general public for the most part does not recognize these people. I don't think there are enough outlets for these artists to exhibit their art. Those who attend conventions in the field are well aware of the art, but that seems to be the largest arena for the artists. We are for the most part, commercial artists, not gallery artists. The fine art community looks at us as just that and does not include us in their gallery exhibits. There are those who are beginning to cross that line, but it takes quite an effort.
SFR) Who are your favorite artists?
JB) This is a difficult question to answer, because I have so many favorite artists. I am a student of art history and I have a deep appreciation for what an artist puts into his work. I love the masters from Rembrandt to Van Gogh, Michaelangelo to Dali, Magritte, the Impressionists to The Symbolists, and everything in between.
SFR) Do you collect art or anything else?
JB) I am by nature a collector. Before I became an illustrator, I was painting for myself and collected and sold antiques. I was an antique dealer for ten years. I have quite a varied interest from glass, porcelain, jewelry, etc. I also collect books and have a fairly large "Alice in Wonderland" book collection. I have a fun collection of old clown dolls hanging all over my house.
SFR) What do you read and/or watch? Any favorite movies?
JB) I have always been a reader and read all sorts of things. I grew up with the classics from Jules Verne to Dickens to Bradbury. I don't watch television except for movies and watch the stock market. I love movies and yes, I have many favorites. I like unusual movies, movies with a great script or fantastic visuals. A few favorites are: Quest for Fire, The Last Wave, Planet of the Apes, Amadeus, and so many that I grew up with that are sentimental favorites.
SFR) Do you sell your originals? What does it cost to own a Jill Bauman Original?
JB) For many years, I never sold my original paintings; I only sold prints, or sketches. I have only recently begun to start selling original art. There is no set price for the paintings; it depends on the painting.
SFR) What is your favorite piece of your own work, and why?
JB) I think my favorite pieces of art are the most personal ones. The paintings mark time and I have associations with some that have deep meaning for me. I painted a portrait of a friend of mine, who is a mime, and calls himself an "illusionist." Somehow that piece painted itself and is titled "The Illusionist." It recently was published on the cover of Weird Tales magazine.
|SF Art: The Chesleys
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