Over a year ago, the creative team at The Science Fiction Book Club met to brainstorm ideas for the upcoming 60th Anniversary of the club, which began in 19
53 in the heyday of science fiction literature. We looked into the possibilities of commissioning a piece of signature art for the year. I approached Donato, with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with on many other occasions, to begin thinking about this. I had a poster or print in mind, but what made this project significantly different and very liberating was that we were not tied to any literary work. There were no concerns about matching a character style or time-period or any of the other details which, under normal circumstances, bind us to the story. Alas, it’s true, we do judge a book by its cover.
The only direction I provided initially to Donato was: “Create something that is representative of 60 years of Science Fiction & Fantasy.” Within a short period of time, Donato sent me this sketch showing a merman and female astronaut meeting over a pillar with a book. He was exploring all areas of contrasts: male/female, fantasy/science fiction, past/future, old/new, space/earth, water/air, etc. with the book (representative of the published word and the SFBC) being their symbol of commonality. I was thrilled with the result and so was everyone else at The Science Fiction Book Club and then… the project was shelved.
Over this past summer, I had the chance to take this project off of the shelf, dust it off and see if I could breathe new life into it. Enough time had gone for the ideas to continue to churn in my head and by now I had some suggestions for Donato. What if they were reaching for one another or the book? What if there was more interaction between the two genre figureheads? Admittedly, this was a potentially dangerous territory we were entering as the sandbox we were playing in was the size of the Sahara with no deadline and no real targets to hit. But, we had to explore, didn’t we?
Donato produced the second set of sketches where he answered my questions and indulged in his own love for rendering hands. Here were two hands, one futuristic and one organic and aquatic cradling the entire universe of the SFBC: science fiction and fantasy writing. I thought we had focused in too much on just their hands and that it might not be clear that we were looking at an astronaut and not a robot. And, would be people know that the other belonged to a mermaid? I have to admit, it reminded me of Michelangelo’s The Creation mural from the Sistine Chapel. Now this made me think of the great Venetian painters of the High Renaissance like Coreggio and Lanfranco who painted domes with figures who looked as if they were flying away from you. I called Donato and we began the conversation which ultimately led to the final image. I asked him to show more of the figures and have them floating toward one another and I asked him to create an image which had no up and no down. There should be no wrong way to hold this image. Allow the viewer to make that determination just as they choose what genre they like to read.
We now have an image which still contains the contrasts that Donato first explored: male/female, science fiction/fantasy, old/new, past/future and they share the wonder of the other’s difference. These two figures brilliantly hurtle around one another against a background of space, or is it ocean? Lastly, they share the element of weightlessness and leave the viewer to determine if she is visiting his world or if he is visiting hers.
Senior Art Director
“The genres of science fiction and fantasy have existed in close proximity to one another for decades, stretching to before the founding of the Science Fiction Book Club. This coexistence was in mind when I began exploratory sketches for a commissioned image to celebrate what the Book Club has offered to its readers through the years—challenging books and works full of wonder, empathy, and discovery.
I was seeking an image which could read on multiple levels and stand alone as a work of art. A meeting of minds immediately resolved itself as the basis for the concept—the old with the new; male and female; fantasy and science fiction. Considering my recent infatuation with merfolk, it was not a huge leap to balance one of those figures with another passion of mine, that of painting astronauts. Inspiration and motivation was never in short supply on this project!”
Convergence is a signed and numbered limited edition print and the first SFBC Exclusive Fine Art Product. Issued with a certificate of authenticity, it measures 18” x 24” (image area 19 1/2” x 14 1/12”) and is suitable for framing—painted with the same sense of both realism and unfettered imagination that has made Donato the go-to artist for The Lord of the Rings, A Song of Ice and Fire, and much more. Go to Vorpalizer.com to purchase!