Interview: Black Science Fiction Artist: Eric Wilkerson

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Invasion Begins_Eric Wilkerson revAs a writer, I normally pay more attention to a book’s content than the cover. But since my publisher scored an awesome cover for my book, I’ve learned to appreciate the talent of a good artist. And in fact, I’d like to highlight the talent of one artist who specializes in science fiction art: Eric Wilkerson. One only has to read his blog to see the level of detail he lovingly puts into each piece, or view his online gallery to admire the finished products.

One example of his work is the first of three collectible cards for the Topps Company for the revival of the Mars Attacks! card series. This card was distributed exclusively at the San Diego Comic Con.

right side EWFor the Zombie show at the Last Rites Gallery in New York City, Eric made a model of a robot zombie for his sketch, then photographed it to help craft the final artwork.

In writing this post (and I’m the worst procrastinator), Eric agreed to help me out at the last minute and allowed me to interview him. So read on:

K. Ceres Wright for Amazing Stories: What made you decide to become an artist?

Eric Wilkerson: I’ve been drawing since I was about 5 to 6 years old. I started taking it more serious when my mom bought me a sketch table as a teenager and after high school ended, I was either going to go to med school or follow my first love and go to art school to learn to be a professional.

Zombie Bot EW smASM: What drew you to science fiction?

EW: My earliest memories are of waking up to watch the Jetsons, Voltron, and many other sci fi–based cartoons of the 80s. My father took me to see a film called Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home when I was 9. I had never heard of Star Trek before, but after that, I was hooked. That franchise has basically shaped my life, like the Tolkien novels have done for other artists out there.

ASM: What science fiction art have you done?

EW: I’ve been working professionally since 2004. Much of my work over the past few years has been mostly concept design and costume design work for the entertainment industry. I’ve done cover art and trading card illustrations for companies like Science Fiction Book Club and TOPPS. Some of my design work has been fabricated by WETA Workshop, but that’s all I can really say about that.

Earlier this year, I finished cover art for the omnibus of Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card for Science Fiction Book Club. I recently completed a new fantasy cover titled God of Another World for a independent publisher. Much of the past few years has been dedicated to concept art.

ASM: Define concept art.

EW: Concept art is a form of illustration where the main goal is to convey a visual representation of a design, idea, and/or mood for use in films, video games, animation, or comic books before it is put into the final product. Concept art is also referred to as visual development and/or concept design. This term can also be applied to retail design, set design, fashion design and architectural design.

ASM: What science fiction book, movie, or TV show would you like to work on?

EW: I think the golden ticket for any scifi illustrator/concept artist would be the upcoming Star Wars films. I don’t necessarily have a preference of book or film. As long as there’s an alien, robot, or something exciting to work on, I’d love to be a part of it.

ASM: What artist inspires you?

EW: Too many to list but my favorites are definitely Jean-Léon Gérôme, Dean Cornwell, Manuel Sanjulian, Syd Mead, Andrew Probert, David Kassan, and former painting instructors Marvin Mattelson and Garin Baker.

And there you have it. Stop by Eric’s blog or gallery and take a gander. You’ll be glad you did.

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