Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Once upon a time, I defined myself as an artist. I was young, and full of crazy ideals.

Later, after thrashing around with the real world, I found myself thinking, “I used to be an artist.”

Recently, Marty Halpern suggested I inquire about using Ron Walotsky's cover painting for the original Tor edition of Cortez on Jupiter for the ebook. It's a wonderful painting -- if I had the money to throw around, I wouldn't mind owning it. Some of my hand-lettering would look nice over it . . .

But – it would be the perfect cover if I was marketing it to folks who felt nostalgic about the good old days when the novel first came out. Are there many folks like that out there? Did I want to limit my sales to a subgroup of aging literary science fiction fandom?

Also, how would that detailed image look shrunk down to thumbnail size, the way people browsing for ebooks would encounter it?

And, I was – and still am, at the moment – in this room that is filling up with sketches I've been doing for the Cortez on Jupiter ebook cover. Nothing definite yet. Experiments.

See? Present me with a situation, and I turn into an artist. I can't help it. It's an addiction.

I never got along with whole fine art business. Those kind of artists, and the whole gallery thing, make me uncomfortable. Who buys fine art anyway? I don't know anybody who buys paintings on a regular basis.

My sensibility is somewhere between a cartoonist and a bullfighter. Yeah, there's this surrealistic thing going there, left over from the hunter/gather instincts to make ritual images to attract the animals for us to kill and eat so the tribe will survive.

It sure does translate into strange business when you do it in the Twenty-First Century, and plug it into the brave new media . . .

So, I may never make my living as an artist, but leave me to my business, and I'll end up making some kind of art. I can't help it. It makes my life complicated, interesting.

It may eventually kill me, but it's not boring.

On the upside: being an artist, I don't have to hire one. Not being a “real professional,” I can easily afford me.

And I do like my own work.

So, as I go about my humble day job, in my brain there's all these images, and strategies for constructing them on paper and computer, flashing like a psychedelic light show . . . letters that look like flying liquid . . . the Great Red Spot as an abstract expressionist/graffiti/gonzo icon . . . cool colors burning through hot . . .

I gotta do something that Pablo Cortez will be proud of. I gotta.

It's an addiction.


  1. I think art is probably a good addiction to have if you have to have an addiction --- you end up with something afterwards and you don't have to rely on a dealer to get your fix --- just time, pencils, paper, paint, markers, etc.

    The art market, though, and trying to do stuff to make a buck can really take a toll on creativity and joy (at least in my case). I feel like I can sometimes end up no longer trusting yourself as far as 'what to do' on the paper goes.

  2. In all, I've been pretty lucky. Things could have been worse. And when I look at what I've done, I feel good.