About: Frequently Asked Questions



Before contacting me with a query, please take a look at my FAQs. Chances are you may well find the answer here and speed things up for you.

1. Can I use your images on my website?

My artwork is copyrighted. This means that, no, you do not have the right to use it in any manner whatsoever, even if it's just on a personal website, without my permission in advance.
      Therefore, if you do wish to put an image on your site you are legally obliged to ask me first. If it's a personal site which will in no way attract revenue or advertise a product, then I may grant free usage, provided that you link back to me and give full credit, and provided that I do not find your site's content disagreeable or controversial.
      If your site is in any way commercial, then I am still happy to grant usage, but naturally I expect you to pay a small fee. This will depend how prominent the image is, how famous the site is, how long the image will be up, etc. Please contact me with these details and we can discuss it.
      Any usage of my work for which I did not grant permission, even if it's a personal site, is an infringement of my copyright and is therefore against the law.

2. How much to use an image of yours in a book or magazine?

Please see my reproduction rates page.

3. Can I use your work in a poster, presentation, thesis etc?

While in the past I have been willing to allow this for free, the sheer number of requests of this kind that I get has forced me to change my stance. Giving away my art for free to academics just encourages more requests for free art, more emails to answer, more high-definition files to prepare and send out. At the end of the day I don't get a cent — not great when you are somebody trying to make a living as a freelance illustrator.
      I therefore require a small donation for the usage of my art by academics. If you are still willing to use my work, please contact me with your requirements so that I may send the payment details, and any image files you may need. For more about why I charge for my art, read FAQ #5. Thank you for your understanding.

4. Can I download wallpaper from your site?

I do not generally provide any large-format files freely for this purpose. If you are willing to pay, please contact me.

5. Why should I pay to use your artwork?

I am so often asked to allow free use of my artwork that it is obvious that some people seem to think that this is how it should be. They assume that art is something that one merely does for pleasure, as a pastime or hobby. 'So why should we pay?' they ask.
      Let's take an example. A non-profit organisation contacts me to ask me to let them use one of my images on a poster advertising, say, a scientific conference. They are unwilling to pay, or unable to. In a situation such as this, I think to myself, what then does this organisation actually pay for? Do they tell the company printing their poster that, being a non-profit organisation, they have no funds to pay them? Do they make a similar plead to the telephone company who rents them their phone line? Or to the people supplying their gas and electricity? No, that would be absurd. But it is perfectly acceptable for some such organisations to ask a working artist, making a living from their art, to let them have their art for free. The way I see it, I provide a service. I provide artwork that will liven up a poster, attracting attention. Why my services should be provided freely while other service-providers get paid is beyond me.
      As a professional artist, I am troubled that providing free art devalues what we do. When an artist does not charge a fee for her work, then it is often expected by organisations that all artists should also provide work for free. So, to make a statement and to avoid jeopardising the careers of my fellow artists, I charge a fee. Artists have mortgages. They must buy fuel to heat their homes, food to feed their families. Materials to make their art!
      To conclude, while I am often willing to allow free usage of my work on, for example, personal internet sites (with my permission in advance — see FAQ #1), there are other circumstances when I will expect to be paid.

6. What do you need to know to be able to do space art?

You don't really need a great deal of astronomical knowledge. But having said that, you will certainly need some basic knowledge if you are to succeed. And simple mathematics will help, to enable you to work out how large a moon appears from its planet, for example. Most professional space artists do have a good grounding in astronomy simply because it interests them as a subject. But I do occasionally see space art where it is clear that the artist has no real idea what s/he's doing, and it's painful. Stick to the laws of physics and you'll do fine.

7. What advice can you give wannabe illustrators?

'Never give up, never surrender!' Seriously, though, it can be tough. And although it's a cliché, it is also sadly quite often true that 'it's not what you know, but who'. But don't be discouraged.
      First off, join an artist or illustrator association. I am a Fellow of the International Association of Astronomical Artists (IAAA), and they are great if you want to get into space art. Then, you need to get to know your potential clients, learn which magazines, publishers, whatnot, will actually want to publish your work. No sense sending a beautifully rendered painting of a spiral galaxy to a magazine called, I don't know, Horse and Countryside. Okay, extreme example, but you get the picture. Once you know what sort of art you want to do and who will want to print it, get in touch with them. You can find out how to contact them in publications such as Writers' and Artists' Yearbook (in the UK, but no doubt other countries have similar tomes). Send your target clients some samples of your work and then wait. And then wait a bit more. Then perhaps send a chasing letter. And just keep at it. Eventually, if you have a degree of talent, somebody will spot it and you'll get in print.
      But don't stop there! It is a misconception that once you have made it in print, it gets easier. Okay, perhaps it's not entirely false, but it's not that simple. I am constantly sending out samples to people who already know me, or I email them just to stay in touch. Otherwise they forget about me and they use somebody else's art and I have to live on bread and water. Most of the samples I send out to new potential clients just vanish into some black hole somewhere. It's tiring, but you have to know how to network as well as how to draw. And you need patience.

8. I don't think computer-generated art is real art. Discuss.

First, the term 'computer-generated art' is about as accurate as a rusty watch with two broken springs. The computer does not 'generate' my digital art any more than my airbrush generates my acrylic paintings. The computer is merely a tool, like the airbrush. I generate the art, not a box of electronic components.
      True, some 3D programs can make very realistic-looking scenes with little input from the user. But this is not how I work. I use 3D programs sparingly (see FAQ #10), and always work on the image afterwards in Photoshop. It is here that the image comes to life as a work of art and where I am able to impart my style. Using a graphics tablet, I draw on the screen just as I would (well, almost) on canvas with paint. I pick the colours, I choose the right size 'brush' for the job, I make sure the lighting and perspective is right and that the composition is solid — all just as with traditional art. The computer has no say in what the final image looks like. It comes from my imagination, and the computer merely helps me to translate my idea into an image. If that's not art, perhaps I should go about chopping up cows, urinating on religious icons or assembling piles of bricks in posh art galleries.

9. What equipment do you use to make your images?

For the digital art, I work on a PC rather than a Mac. I have 128 GB of DDR4 SDRAM, a few TB of disk space, another few TB of disk space in a network drive for backups, and the CPU is an AMD Ryzen 12-core processor running at 3.7 GHz. I also have five slower machines which I network link to the main one to render animations faster, the PCs working in tandem. Lastly I use a Wacom graphics pad, although I began with a mouse.
      For my traditional art, which is now becoming rare, I prefer to use acrylics with the occasional sprinkling of airbrush. I have never used oil (well, once or twice, but I lack the patience) and I dislike the results you get with watercolour. Gouache is okay. I also love oil pastels

10. What software do you use?

By far the most common piece of software for still images is Photoshop. Sometimes I start from a blank canvas, but often I start with a photo or a section from one, adding the rest by hand. Or sometimes I start with an element stolen from a previous image. And still other times, I start with a 3D program, such as Blender or 3DS Max. In a sense I use the 3D render as a sketch. I then import the render into Photoshop and make big changes to it. For my animation work, I use 3DS Max and Blender, and Photoshop for making maps and textures. If you want to see examples of my animation work, check out my YouTube channel.

11. Do you sell prints of your art?

Yes, see here. I sell prints and other merchadise (such as phone covers and greetings cards) through a third-party website called RedBubble. You order the prints through them. They take your order and send the prints out directly to you. I am not involved in the process, which frees up a lot of my time. I also sell originals. Please contact me for details.

12. Do you do other work aside from astronomical/space art?

Yes. I also like to dabble in paleoart (e.g. dinosaurs), a bit of science fiction, some horror, some surrealism, and other odds and ends. Go to markgarlick.com to check it out.

13. What is your all-time favourite movie?

Has to be Blade Runner. No this isn't really an FAQ. Made you look though!