A native Californian, artist Michael Whelan has been interested in the imagery of science fiction and fantasy since his early childhood. He pursued art as his hobby throughout his school years and then as a major at San Jose State University. He graduated as a President's Scholar with a bachelor of arts in painting and went on to the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles. Among Whelan's numerous awards are: the HUGO, the World Science Fiction Award for Best Professional Artist, which he has won eleven times (seven times consecutively), and the HOWARD (World Fantasy) Award for Best Artist, (three consecutive times). In 1992, he won a HUGO in the new category of Best Original Artwork for his cover painting for the novel The Summer Queen.
Whelan's paintings appear on the covers of many best sellers: the Foundation and Robot novels by Isaac Asimov; the Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey; 2061: Odyssey Three and Songs of Distant Earth by Arthur C. Clarke, as well as novels by Robert Heinlein, C. J. Cherryh, Stephen Donaldson, Tad Williams and others. Whelan has also been commissioned to do covers for several alternative rock and “New Age” music albums, as well as more mainstream recordings such as Michael Jackson's Victory album and the latest album by Meatloaf. His clients include all the major book companies, OMNI magazine, National Geographic Book Division, The Franklin Mint, Tri-Star Productions, CBS Records, Atari and Coleco. This autumn a book on his artwork, The Art of Michael Whelan, will be released. Whelan's original paintings have been displayed and sold at galleries and museums throughout the United States and abroad.
All of Whelan's artwork is, at its most fundamental level, about creating a sense of wonder. Most closely allied to the scope and feeling of what is referred to as contemporary visionary art, his paintings are imbued with a strong sense of the mystical or dreamlike and are highly allegorical in nature. There is a deliberate attempt to invest the image with a marked degree of symbolic meaning while having an immediate subjective or emotional appeal.
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