Beyond Science Fiction - Paintings by Michael Whelan

Created by Baby Tattoo

Help make and preserve art history with this unique showcase of visionary work by the most awarded sci-fi/fantasy artist of all time.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Weekly Update 8 of ????????
almost 2 years ago – Sat, Nov 18, 2017 at 11:36:32 AM

We interrupt our regular weekly update (while we're still waiting on proofs) for this breaking news...

Tonight from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM Pacific Time is the grand opening of the Baby Tattoo Carnival of Astounding Art Secret Showroom at Geeky Teas in Burbank.

Michael's little "Bee Taxi" palette gremlin will be on display as part of an eclectic collection of items from Baby Tattoo's 15 years of art and oddity.

If you're in Southern California, consider stopping by to say hello.

You're Invited!
You're Invited!

 

Weekly Update 7 of ???????
about 2 years ago – Sat, Nov 11, 2017 at 11:39:30 PM

Not much to report on progress this week. We're still in a holding pattern waiting to see proofs.

But there is something to reflect back on that started almost exactly one year ago...

Back and Front of Kickstarter Promotional Postcard
Back and Front of Kickstarter Promotional Postcard

This weekend is DesignerCon in Pasadena. At last year's D-Con, Baby Tattoo began handing out promotional postcards announcing the imminent launch of Michael Whelan's Beyond Science Fiction Kickstarter. We also had Michael's painting "Destroying Angel" on display. Happy One Year Anniversary everybody!

"Destroying Angel"
"Destroying Angel"

For next week's update, we're hoping to have something for you to proofread... your name in the acknowledgments!*

*Yes, you've probably already seen your name in the acknowledgements (as part of a previous update), but as we get closer to the actual ink-and-paper printing... we want to make sure we got the last round of corrections right!

Update 6 of ??????
about 2 years ago – Fri, Nov 03, 2017 at 10:18:37 PM

Just a quick update to let you know we're still on a trajectory toward seeing color proofs for the book's interior (while Michael completes his European travels as a guest of the Lucca Comics & Games Convention). As reported in a previous weekly update, Michael has already seen the color proofs for the covers.

While we're waiting, here's a behind-the-scenes look at the front-and-center special processes being experimented with for the book covers. The unusual colors overlaying the title text and portions of the art in the images below indicate the various levels of embossing that are being added to the books thanks to each and every backer who contributed to the campaign and allowed us to rocket past our various stretch goals.

Color Overlays Indicate Areas to Be Multi-Level Embossed
Color Overlays Indicate Areas to Be Multi-Level Embossed

We'll have another update next Friday, and we'll have the digital version of the book to everyone very soon.

Weekly Update 5 of ?????
about 2 years ago – Sat, Oct 28, 2017 at 12:24:22 AM

Hello,

We're sending files to the printer for proofing during the week ahead. It's time to see everything on paper and get Michael's input for color approval. The process of getting the proofs usually takes a couple of weeks (including courier transit), so timing is perfect since Michael is going to be in Italy as an honored guest of the massive Lucca Comics & Games Convention from now until right around the time the hardcopy proofs arrive.

In the meantime, we promised to show you something cool this week... out is an original essay about Michael Whelan by Robert Williams, the Father of Modern Alternative Art. Robert wrote the piece specifically as a foreword for the new Beyond Science Fiction book, and it has never been revealed to anyone - until now! Here it is...

Foreword

Michael Whelan not only rides the high crest of modern speculation in science fiction and fantasy, his efforts also define the art of the future. This book is a glimpse into his exploration of expression.

Whelan’s father—an aerospace engineer—certainly created the progressive mindset necessary for Michael to embrace science and its future possibilities. Raised in California and Colorado, Michael was well equipped for his career with a sound art education, having earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from San Jose State University and later studying at the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles. Art Center during the 1970s was no liberal art walk in the park.

The awards Whelan has received for achievements as an illustrator are impressive enough—twelve Hugo Awards for science fiction art and three Howard Awards for fantasy art. Yet more significant are the accolades from his association with internationally recognized fiction writers who have benefited from his graphic services. As a general rule it’s the cover art that sells a book. Along with these accomplishments has come the gratification of a rather sizable following of devoted acolytes, his very own fan base.

I am also an artist and painter and have been for over fifty years. I have undertaken this creative endeavor as a representational artist functioning in the orthodox academic art world. Consequently, I have been asked to theorize on Mr. Whelan’s work in a broader fine art context. First, let me make it clear that there is no single graphic authority that would be in a position to stand in cultural judgement of his talents and successes. His skill and imagination override any formal critique. Michael’s association with some of the top science fiction writers of our time would make criticism kind of a moot point.

But all is not calm seas, as one would expect, in the realm of high art. Here is where I express my historical observations with respect to Michael. For over a hundred years, representational (or what we call realistic) art has had some rough encounters with the progressive modern arts. The impressionists of the 1870s preferred the flat color plane rather than the drawn line to give volume and definition to form, and they were quite adamant about it. Tight skill and realistic painting was considered part of the old dead world of classicism.

Modern art followed suit during the early twentieth century. And later, the final death knell rang out for well-defined draftsmanship in the late 1940s with the advent of abstract expressionism. One would think that all idioms of art could live together, but this was not the case. The fine arts dilettantes of New York conveyed the opinion that lesser connoisseurs depended on three-dimensional expression.

Michael would have had almost no opportunity of becoming an accepted blue chip painter on the international art stage. Ah— there was, alas, pop art during this time. But, pop art depends totally on appropriation of popular culture with very little opportunity for an artist having a rapacious imagination.

The other art world was illustration. The fine arts upper class held illustration in low regard. When I was in art school during the 1960s I was referred to as “the illustrator” as a smug euphemism by my fellow students. Illustration has an interesting past. Almost all artists throughout history took commissions. There was no distinction between fine art and commercial art like experienced today. The golden age of true illustration evolved with the technical advancements in printing processes (hence, Michael’s world). These glory years were from the late eighteenth century until shortly after the second world war. This is when great names like James Montgomery Flagg, Howard Pyle, N.C. Wyeth, Maxfield Parrish, J.C.Lyendecker, Fredrick Remington, Norman Rockwell, and so on became illustration heroes.

The world Michael Whelan comes from is even more exciting, the old wonderful phenomenon called pulp magazine illustration, the very cultural bottom of art. This is the world that has ignited more American imaginations than any other form of graphic, and the influence that made me an artist. The pulp magazine was the literary ground zero for science fiction and fantasy. It has origins and a provenance that shames most “fine art.” Fantasy imagery goes back in time three millennia, and science fiction to at least the mid-Renaissance (Leonardo da Vinci for example). The oldest paradigm of extraterrestrial art that I’m conscious of are engravings of fantastic flying nude nymphs on the surface of the moon which were primed in The Edinburgh Journal of Science in 1835. But, for the average person, science fiction was considered silly, puerile, and—at best—musing.

Nonetheless, without the preceding seventy years of preparatory influence of science fiction, there would have been no moon landing in 1969. Michael Whelan belongs to this elite group of talented “imaginateurs” that keep our imaginations exercised and prepared for the coming impossible. In the same way he has stood on the shoulders of unsung graphic giants to bring you his tailored apparitions, young imaginative graphic aspirants will stand on his to expand his visual contributions.

Michael’s wonderful work is a testimony that exploratory thought and skill don’t come easy. Accredited art schools do teach technique, but nobody teaches imagination, self discipline, and perseverance. Thank you Michael Whelan for your visions, we’re indebted to you.

 - Robt. Williams

Weekly Update 4 of ????
about 2 years ago – Fri, Oct 20, 2017 at 11:20:59 PM

I'll keep it short this week. We're still working on everything we were working on last week. But...

We will have something very significant to show you (literally "show" you, not just "tell you about") next week.

- Bob Self, Ringmaster, Baby Tattoo Books