If you have previous copies of Spectrum, you already know what to expect. Spectrum 16: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art is a thick 264-page art annual filled with amazing art, reproduced brilliantly on low glossy paper. There are both paperback and hardcover editions.
This year, the winner for the Grand Master Award is Richard Corben.
Other than him, there are a ton of other great artists included like Iain McCaig, Jon Foster, Melaine Delon (who drew the cover painting), Jason Chan, Adam Hughes, Brom, Paul Bonner, James Gurney, Andrew Jones and many new fresh artists. All their websites and contact information are included in the index and the back should you want to check out more of their work.
The illustrations are grouped into different categories, namely Advertising, Book, Comics, Concept Art, Dimensional, Editorial, Institutional and Unpublished. What you'll see are environment paintings, character designs, game art, sculptures, Fine Art, and just basically whatever you can think of.
Spectrum 16: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art continues to be one of the best valued and inspiration art annuals around. Highly recommended to artists, art directors and anyone into fantasy art, or into fantastic art.
(More pictures are available on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.)
Spectrum 16 continues the habit of offering a feast for those who enjoy speculative art--whether graphic novel style, SF book cover art, advertising, etc. Plenty of fantasy of the traditional sort (sorcerers, maidens, fairies, witchy women, enchantments, magical landscapes) and a good amount of sci-fi stuff (steampunkiness, robots, futuristic).
Here are 264 pages, from beginning to index: in-between, a banquet of gorgeous, fantastical visions.
I liked last year's cover better, but those into dangerous females will relish the glowingly pale, serpentined-haired Medusa type on this edition's front. It's by Melanie Delon, called "Doom", and is found fully repro'd on page 256. Sexy and creepy. The femme fatale, flaunting her assets and dangerous allure, never goes out of style.
The Grand Master Award this time round goes to Richard Corben (Hellboy, cover of Meatloaf's BAT OUT OF HELL, The Hulk, co-creator of BLOODSTAR.
Really enjoyed the detail art on the contents page (full repro found page 186) by Jenna Smith--a digital piece with a watercolor vibe and anime spirit, playful and fun and beautifully colored, of a girl blowing a pink gum bubble while her backpack issues forth a trail of assorted critters,large and small. It's worth taking a peek at the phallically-clogged sci-fi-ey AIDS awareness poster repro on page 12.
The Advertising Gold Award was rather disturbing--a forward-frantic melee of human appendages and rabbits by Ryohei Hase (digital). Note that scary rabbitty things are scattered throughout this edition of SPECTRUM. Urg. For instance, p 77. And the clay/acrylic sculptural hare on p 133. Eek. The Silver ad award wen to Yuko Shimizu for a retro-look piece with men in old-style striped bathing suits and red/white lifesavers against a pea-soupy colored background. What are they doing? Riding a saddled multi-celled organism that looks like a close-up of amoebae cluster? Made me think of old hardcovers with faded artwork. (ink drawing with digital) Weird. Both winners have a sense of movement and energy, though the styles are quite different. Shimizu has another retro-deep-sea fantasy diver on page 150, and I actually like this piece better, personally.
Andrew Jones' "Artumnal Dancer" deserved its sole position on page 31. A gorgeous swirl of orange garment made of fall foliage, another galactic-like swirl of pure white, a zombie-pale dancer, a watchful, haloed moon. Really cool (Painter X medium). His "Heaven's Bones" on page 62, with its gorgeous use of a red accent amidst the dark and the wondrous gear-machinery wings is worth an extended visit (digital). Two more pieces on 172-173 are must-sees, and Mr. Jones ends up being a stand-out for me in this issue.
A thought-provoking, surrealistic, social-commentary piece by Jose Emroca Flores (Starbucks employees may wanna avoid) is oil on wood with some serious "Cashcow" udder-sucking.
Stephan Martiniere's epic moodiness in his digital piece for Orion's ACE OF SKULLS is a delight to behold, partly for the perspective: You're high above a misty SF city with winding roads about hills and a great big metal hulker of a ship floating above, while we're anchored by a male figure on a parapet watching what is going on below. Lots of grays, misty pale colors, bits of blue , shadows, scaffolding, banners. Make me think of many older SF titles, and I mean that in a good way. This is page 39, but behold 38 where smaller repros of two other Martiniere works show he's no slouch.
One of my faves, J J Palencar, has a gorgeous piece on page 46 done in acrylic that momentarily took me back to THE SLEEPING GYPSY, only this boasts a white tiger staring down the viewer and keeping guard over a lovely tawny-skinned sleeping female in JJP's trademark subdued tones. VEry much a horizontal composition and me likey. More Jude on p. 63 with "The Mystery of Grace." Also acrylic. And page 82, "Nor Flesh, Nor Feathers." (I own that book, hah.)
Another non-digital piece (for those of you who whine about the preponderance of digital) is a stunner by Donato Giancola (who had one of my fave artwork in last year's SPECTRUM): the cover for Tor's ARCHER OF THE ROSE. Wow, look at that wonderful diagonal composition of ornate shields (golds, greens, roses, silvers) , the gleam of armor, the brightness. Contrasting to all that metal is the heroine with her bow and arrow and blonde, unarmored presence, who is anchoring at the center. Really, really love this. Page 57. Oil on panel. (Check the lovely pencil piece on the opposite page by Eric Orchard called "The Guardian of Autumn."' Nice.)
If you like pirates, visit Johnny Duddle's "Treasure Hunting!" on p.66 (digital), which will make you smile at it's teeny ship of fools and it's large octopi on the grab. Digital. Note: I noticed a lot of sea dangers recurring, including a cool Jonah and the Whale piece on p. 86 and a giant squid on 107.Also about sea periils, see the really marvelous piece on page 224 (watercolor, acrylic) by Jeremy Enecio. One of my faves--a blue, green, white, composition with sea serpents. The curling snakey bits around humans made me think of the classic Lacoon.
A nice architectural focus spreads across 118-119-, with mysterious and threatening to playful structures. .
Ron Wilson's fun retro-futuristic landscape with robot piece--the "lighting" effect is tres cool--is on page 175, "The Electrician" (digital).
A delightful, and not wholly fluffy knight/damsel/forest/fairies piece by Justin Gerard effectively uses rose tones and lighting and swirling fabric. Pretty. (watercolor/digital).
One of my fave two-page spreads is on 182-183, with an acrylic/ink/watercolor by Scott Bakal having majorly "pink" fun with a spaceship in Central Park; a terrific digital, low-to-the-ground/zombies-in-the-playground piece by Jason Chan (normal kids fighting zombie kids, and how cool is this); and a mixed and ink media piece by Dan Santat that does something totally delightful with Godzilla.
216-217 has an amazing double offering by David Bowers, both oil works, one on panel and one on linen. Wow.Really rich,detailed work infused with subdued, but living sort of light. I'm impressed. Beautiful execution meets creepy story elements.
If you're a bee-lover, visit the two-pager on 232-233 for four bee-yootiful works.
Herman Smorenburg's haunting oil on wood, The Vision of a Mortal Life, is a haunting, sensual, creepy memento mori type painting, complete with darkened landscape, Celtic cross, death figure, skull-caressing maiden, and lantern-holding seeker.
If like me, you've got a thing for albinoes (I blame Elric of Melnibone), visit two really worth-seeing pieces: Tran Nguyen's "Fine Line", p 242, photoshop--with a lovely use of turqouise against the neutrals; and Jeremy Enecio (again, he's standing out for me this year) "Milk", a digital work, of an albino madonna holding a totally red child.
Spectrum 16 closes with Michael Whelan's soaring architectural piece in acrylic on canvas, "Lumen 5". It's a piece that has a rickety-looking, spiraling structure that looks medieval, but it rises and rises and curves in one of those huge spaces we've seen Whelan do before (and do well, of course). A serpent of wood and cloth seeking a way out from this hulking structure (is it an alien ship or a temple of sorts, with those boxed details like the Pantheon?) It's looking toward what's out there, and it's moving up and out. I suppose it's good to end with this piece, which is one that is looking onward...to Spectrum 17.