At some point, we’ve all received advice in the form of the old adage, “Don’t judge a book by its cover!” But for those of us who love to browse bookstores searching for our next great read, that rule sometimes proves difficult to follow. If you’re a fan of fantasy or science fiction, you may very well be “guilty” of purchasing one or more novels because you were drawn to the irresistible cover art of Chris McGrath.
McGrath is a Science Fiction/Fantasy book cover illustrator living in New York City. He freelances for several publishing houses such as Random House, Penguin, Tor Books, and others. He started his career in 2001 and most of that time has been spent creating stunning book cover illustrations. “It’s a fun job and it’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid, so I’d have to consider myself pretty lucky,” McGrath says. He has produced cover art for New York Times best-selling authors such as Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson, Kat Richardson and Rob Thurman, to name a few. McGrath draws inspiration from film, music, and the work of other artists he admires. He loves to hear readers say they picked up or purchased a book because they were drawn to his alluring cover art.
Like many illustrators, McGrath has been drawing since childhood, but after graduating from high school he got serious about his talent and decided to enroll at the School of Visual Arts in New York. There he studied traditional painting and drawing. Graphics editing programs such as Photoshop were in their infancy at that time, and the school did not offer any computer classes. Of his training there, McGrath says, “I feel I was pretty lucky in that sense since I had no choice but to learn and paint for real. No matter what medium you end up using, the same rules apply. You must learn good drawing skills.”
At SVA, McGrath says he was fortunate to be able to study with one of the best realist painters alive, Steven Assael. (Assael is considered to be the leading contemporary representational figurative artist in the United States.) McGrath learned how to paint and draw at a professional level from the renowned artist, and credits his own successful career to his influence. McGrath says his skill set was shaped by the classical painting techniques of the old masters. Nowadays, he works digitally in order to satisfy the needs of modern publishing, but the artist says he is thankful for the traditional painting skills he learned. As you browse the artist’s gallery below, you’ll see it is evident that his captivating digital artwork benefits from knowing those time-honored techniques.
To view more of Chris McGrath’s work, visit his web site at www.christianmcgrath.com.