Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Stephen Youll - Cover Artist


Stephen Youll was born in Hartlepool, England. He studied art at Durham
New College of Art and Design, and then furthered his art education at Sunderland University. After graduating with a distinction in Illustration in 1985 he worked as a reconstruction artist at Durham Cathedral, one of England’s most historic and important Norman Cathedrals. In 1987 he exhibited his science fiction work for the first time at the World Science Fiction Convention in Brighton, England. In that same year he ended up getting enough cover assignments that he was able to go full time freelance. Stephen moved to New York City in 1989.

Stephen Youll’s art can be found on hardback, trade, and mass market book covers. The many clients he has worked for include: Bantam Books, Warner Books, Tor Books, Avon Books, Ballantine Books, Penguin Books, Daw Books, Pocket Books, Harper Collins, DC Comics, Dark Horse Comics, the IBM Corporation, Sony, and Universal Studios.

Stephen’s art has been shown and exhibited throughout the United States and England and he has been awarded with many awards at conventions and exhibitions for his art, which included Best Artist, Best in Show, and Best Professional Artist. He has been nominated many times by the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists for Best Paperback and Best Hardback covers. Steve has also been awarded certificates of merit and been exhibited at the Society of Illustrators. He has also had his art shown at the Illustration House in Manhattan. In 1996, he was presented with a Gold Award by the Magazine and Book Sellers News Stand cover competition for most outstanding cover of the year for “Tales of Jabba’s Palace”.

His work may be found in the Spectrum art books, The Universes of
Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman: Realms of Dragons, and in Infinite Worlds, The Fantastic Visions of Science Fiction Art. Numerous magazine articles have been written about his work in Art Scene International, Film Fanaddict, Realms of Fantasy, Science Fiction Age, and Airbrush Action. Barnes and Noble picked Stephen to represent the ‘best science fiction artist’ for their on-web interviews. He has been Artist Guest of Honor at Boscon in 1998, and Artist Guest of Honor at the World Science Fiction Convention in Philadelphia in 2001. His work has been exhibited at the Smithsonian, and his painting “Speaking in Tongues” is hanging in the Science Fiction Museum in Seattle, Washington. Many private collectors have his original art work, including George Lucas who now owns 6 of his Star Wars paintings. He has a hard cover book featuring over a hundred of his favorite paintings and sketches that is titled “The Art of Stephen Youll: Paradox”.

Stephen currently lives in New Jersey with his wife and cats.

Mr. Youll was kind enough to answer a few questions about his work:

Did you always want to make book covers for fantasy and science fiction books?
Yes, I always wanted to illustrate covers. It's really the only profession I wanted to do. I love illustrating the covers to books. 

What was the first book you did a cover for?

My first cover was a book by Daniel Keys Moran called Emerald Eyes for Bantam Books- New York 

Do you read the manuscript before you design the cover?

I used to always read the manuscript.
Now I rarely have a chance to, since most covers are created well in advance of the book being finished. In some cases before the author has even  started writing. 

How long does it take to create a cover?
Covers are all different and take different amounts of time to finish.
Some are more complicated than others depending on the subject matter.
I can create a cover in less than a day or up to several weeks. 

Do the authors always tell you what they want for their cover, or can you let your imagination go freely once in a while?
Some authors have input as to what they would like on the cover, and the goal is to please the author, but many leave that task up to the publisher and artist where I get to have more of a free range. It's important to be able to collaborate and most of the time these can be the most rewarding cover design projects.

Do you have a favorite among the covers you made?
My next cover is my favorite cover.

What would you recommend as the best way to get inspiration?
Usually reading the book is the best way to get inspired to create the cover. But since most books are not finished when you start the cover design process, asking the author for some guide as to what they want  helps.

Are you an avid reader, and if so, what’s your favorite book so far?
I love books and especially the science fiction and fantasy books. 
My favorite book is The Lord of the Rings.

Do you have any tips for people aspiring a career as a cover artist?
My advise to anyone wanting to get into this business is to really love what you do. It's the only way you'll be good at it.

Be sure to check out THIS link too, where Mr. Youll takes us through the process of creating the cover for "Wards of Faerie" by Terry Brooks!


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