In this spotlight, we asked artist Chris Moore to tell us a bit about the background of his cover for this issue of Lightspeed, “Blindfold.”
The inspiration for this image came from the subject. The girl, whose name was Lucy, was a nurse at our local hospital where my wife works as a doctor. I spotted her at a social and thought that she had very interesting qualities; very feminine, but also strong and aloof with good bone structure and high cheekbones. I asked her if she would mind if I took some photographs of her and I think she probably thought I was trying to chat her up. Her expression said “I bet you try that with all the girls,” but a friend of mine who is a surgeon and works with Lucy vouched for me, so we made an arrangement for the following week to come to my studio.
I took quite a lot of pictures that afternoon and the portrait used for ‘Blindfold’ was one of them. The same girl featured on several covers I did.
I didn’t get much idea what the story was about at the time of doing the painting, but I thought that it made quite a good composition, and the pose and lighting on her face made her appear quite thoughtful and mysterious. This made her coincidentally right for the story which is about a Truthsayer: A telepathic young girl who dispenses justice because she can look into a person’s soul to determine guilt or innocence, but she loses her powers and no one knows why. The story is set on an untamable planet with a small colony whose laws are dispensed by the Truthsayers.
The title “Blindfold” is a subjective one. Why did you choose it for this piece?
I didn’t choose the title; it was a commission for a wraparound book cover entitled Blindfold, by Kevin J. Anderson.
While your gallery features a variety of styles, the majority of your art seems to be science fiction. What appeals to you about this genre?
The answer to this question, which I feel many science fiction readers probably don’t want to hear, is that I am essentially a jobbing illustrator who handles pretty much anything that is offered to me provided that it’s interesting in some way. I get the impression that to some extent, the science fiction readership would like one to be more “purist” and “emotionally involved” with the subject. I do get emotional about my work, but not exclusively the science fiction. I get the kick from producing something that’s visually exciting, a good idea, and that’s right for the book.
The thing that appeals to me about SF is that to a large extent it allows you to be self-indulgent, and to give expression to your fantasies, which is very rewarding but still tempered with the restrictions that are imposed by the brief, size, format, previous covers by the same author, other covers that you may have done that the art director wants you to follow and so on, not to mention the story or ideas that the author may have. Still, when you are working on a painting or digital file, even within parameters, it’s as though you are looking through a window to another world that not only could exist but does exist given the nature and scale of the universe. I think it’s a huge privilege to be able to do these things.
Which science fiction authors inspire you most?
I’ve been fortunate to do covers for most of the authors working or have worked in this genre from Wells to David Weber and Asimov to Arthur C. Clarke, but I think I’m most associated with the writings of Philip K. Dick on this side of the Atlantic. His work has, I feel, the most amazing visionary ideas and concepts relying not so much on alien speculation but more to do with the strange properties of the human mind. It’s not surprising that so many of his stories have provided the inspiration for feature films.
When you go about working on a new piece, is there a story behind it already, or does that develop, too, as the piece unfolds?
When I do a painting it is almost always on commission for a cover of a book, which is where most of my work has originated. Sometimes the publishers leave the cover idea to you, sometimes they give instructions as to what they want on the cover, and at other times, it is a dialogue between you and the art director. In many ways it’s a team effort with you at the pointy end.
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