In many respects you can blame astro-artist David A. Hardy for this review. We were discussing artists and one he raised that I’d forgotten about was Chris Moore. I looked around on the Net and found there was a book of his art released in 2000 and got it at a nice price. As publisher Paper Tiger has been defunct for some time now, it’s now more a question of looking around and seeing what’s out there. It’s always rewarding when you can find something without paying the earth.
Writer Stephen Gallagher makes a point in his introduction that his pal, Chris Moore, is largely self-effacing and is more likely to point out the flaws in his paintings than the beauty. There is also an extensive interview by Gallagher with Moore throughout the book.
Chris Moore’s only ambition was to be a commercial artist and it was much later that he was approached to do SF book covers. The closest he came to SF was watching ‘2001’, so hardly an ardent fan when he worked for Methen back in 1980. However, given the chance now, SF would be all he would like to paint. He sees himself as a problem-solver which is also a good sign. From his college days, he was also a master of the airbrush which is clearly seen throughout the work in this book but freely admits that he’ll use whatever might work, including digital. There are some useful tips on airbrushing given and I couldn’t help but look at the equipment on-line today, so something must have rubbed off. One useful lesson is not to airbrush with inks because most will face in sunlight in a very short time. Fortunately, there’s a lot of good liquid acrylics out there.
Apart from book covers, Moore also made a name for himself painting album covers and now also does a lot of private commissions, although few are included here but this book was released over a decade ago. Gallagher’s interview with Moore is delightfully open and frank. I think my favourite is when Moore tried switching from acrylics to oil painting and promptly told by the publisher to do it the way he normally paints their covers. Seeing the two pictures together, I can see a little loss in vibrancy. He also makes an interesting point how paintings when reduced in size for book covers also compress and improve the details.
There is also a lot of insight of working through agents and the three month delay before being paid. Remember the latter, if you want to get into commercial art. One thing as you wander through this book is recognising covers of books you own and if you don’t, I suspect you’ll go through your collections to see if you have any, if only to see how the deadspace was used with the titles. I also like how Moore keeps a database of all his work and where it’s appeared. I think he could have kept a higher resolution pictures as well as including them in the database but that’s a user perspective. The fact that Moore has also moved into digital software a decade ago screams for a new book of his later work.
If you’re into SF artists and missed out on Chris Moore’s book then it is worth picking out. Although, like Chris Foss, he seems to have cornered a particular art style with his book covers. He has a very good sense for colour and scale and always surprising.
(pub: Paper Tiger/Colins & Brown, 2000. 128 page illustrated hardback. Price: about £ 7.50 (UK) if you know where to look. ISBN: 1-85585-849-5)
check out website: www.chrismooreillustration.co.uk/