1991: CATAlogue

CATalogue Folder

It wasn’t just the move from Alaska to Tennessee that brought about culture shock during the winter of 1990-91, it was also the collision of graphic design hipsterism with the more casual business world found in science fiction conventions. All of this playing against the backdrop of yet another artistic upheaval, namely the transition from physical hand tools like waxers and X-acto knives to the use of computers in the practice of graphic design itself.

It all felt I was trying to take just a little sip of water out of a fire hydrant but I had a family to support so I did my best to integrate new skills from the university with the solid skills I’d developed as a successful illustrator…and I had to do something: Though I’d been a full-time freelancer for a decade I was feeling real heat from new competition and figured that I needed to do a better job in promoting myself and my work.

My CATalogue project seemed to fit the bill by combining basic computer design work with rendering skills and a dash of humor to present my work in the best way possible, an approach that was made even better when marbleized paper to create hand-made book folders for presentation. Unfortunately to this day I am still trying to figure out just how effective the campaign really was. It was so labor-intensive that I only sent out two dozen books with mailings spread out over a six-week period and it was tough to make a connection between “who got a book” and “who sent work”. A few of the small press publishers in the science fiction market didn’t quite grasp what I was trying to do and returned the books, one with the damned-with-faint-praise remark that he liked the concept a lot more than he liked the art itself and it was twenty years before I tried promotions again with an equally ambitious campaign.


PhagorThis is one of my earlier sculpts – a phagor from the Brian Aldiss Helliconia trilogy.  In the fall of 1991 Easton Press gave me an assignment to create a frontspiece illustration for their signed limited hardbound decision of Helliconia Spring. Most of the other figures and elements involved were fairly straightforward but I had never been happy with any previous version of the goat-like phagors  I had seen so I made the bust and shot reference photos.

Production notes: Super Sculpey with a metal armature on a wooden base and painted with acrylics

Time for a Change

Watermark91When I woke up this morning I was filled with a deep resolve to do something remarkable – like inventing a perpetual motion device, formulating a cure for cancer or establishing contact with an extraterritorial race.

…but I also woke up in a terrible arthritic flare and had trouble walking much of the day so settled for just changing the image on my masthead.

It’s an older piece, painted in 1991 using acrylics on  on a 15″ X 36″ Masonite panel. I gave it the name “Watermark” because I was in a serious Enya phase at the time and played the album nonstop while I was painting. I had exactly two opportunities in 1991 to display it – first as a work in progress at BOSKONE and then as a finished piece at LIBERTYCON. A few days after LIBERTYCON  Ken Ray & Martha Knowles made a direct purchase and promptly added it to their magnificent fine art collection.

I went through a phase with this “long skinny” look in the late ’80s / early ’90s .  I have a half-dozen more in this format (in a wide range of archival condition) that I plan to cycle through this page in the future.

…right after I get that perpetual motion machine going.