Before contacting me with a query, please take a look at my FAQs below.
The chances are you may well find the answer here and speed things up for you.
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.
Please see my reproduction rates page.
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.
I do not generally provide any large-format files freely for this purpose. If you are willing to pay, please contact me.
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.
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.
'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.
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 I 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.
For the digital art, I work on a PC running Linux Mint. I have been a long-time user of
Windows - indeed most of my work was created within Windows - but in December 2021 I switched to Linux.
My main PC has 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 other PCs (all Linux) which I use
in tandem with my main machine for rendering animations. My main PC has an NVIDIA RTX 3080Ti graphics card, while
my secondary machine has a 3070Ti. Lastly I use
a Wacom graphics pad, although I began with a mouse.
I don't really do traditional art anymore. But when I did, I preferred to use acrylics with the occasional sprinkling of airbrush. I have only used oil paint once or twice, but I lack the patience, and I was never a fan of watercolour. I used gouache a handful of times, and I also love oil pastels.
By far the most common piece of software for still images that I have used is Photoshop. However, having switched to Linux in December 2021, I now use find myself using GIMP a lot. Photoshop doesn't work well on Linux. 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 (when I was using Windows) 3DS Max. In a sense I use the 3D render as a sketch. I then import the render into Photoshop or GIMP and make big changes to it. For my animation work, I use Blender exclusively (with 3DS Max previously), and Photoshop and GIMP for making maps and textures. Lastly, formerly a user of Adobe After Effects (which also doesn't work on Linux), I now use DaVinci Resolve for video editing. All of my animations are on this site, but you can check also out my YouTube channel.
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.
Indeed I do. Go to space-art.co.uk to check it out. It's just space art.
Has to be Blade Runner. No this isn't really an FAQ. Made you look though!