#Art of Fantasy 46: Grzegorz Rutkowski

grzegorz-rutkowski-apprentice-1200I’m still in the middle of editing my story for Interspecies and it’s eating most of my time. I’ve even gone missing from social media for a while now. This is the second week that I’m a day late with my Art of Fantasy post, and I apologize for that.

But, at least I have another extremely talented artist for you today. Grzegorz Rutkowski is a digital artist and freelance illustrator currently working with Powerhouse Animation Studios, Inc. He lives in Poland. Some of his previous clients include Games Workshop, CD Projekt RED, Applibot, Ubisoft and The Vladar Company.

Below is a sampling of the artist’s work. Each image links back to the respective gallery. Enjoy!















Some of the paintings have a smooth texture and solid lines, but then you also have ones where the texture is gritty and rough and lines faded. I like both styles, but I note that the more personal work follows the latter style, which is interesting.

Although the overall tone is dark the color composition is far from muted. His paintings possess a vibrancy caused by the subtle use of lighting. Whether it be from a glint on armor or magic, these paintings are dynamic and awe-inspiring.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and remember to visit my Art of Science Fiction post over at Kōsa Press.





#Art of Fantasy 45: Joel Lagerwall


I’m slightly late this week, but I do have another gem for you. Believe it or not, but today’s artist is self-taught and has only been painting for three years. You wouldn’t say that if you look at his awesome portfolio. No wonder Joel Lagerwall, who is a freelance illustrator and concept artist from Sweden, can boast clients like Hex Trading Card GamesGames Workshop and a bunch of other companies.

His journey started small and modest, on a cheap tablet, with no clear direction but for the art he created and kept on creating. And the way things usually work when talent is made tangible,  fate smiled and embraced this young artist and swept him away in a whirlwind of feats and successes. Like most artists, including even some writers, Joel’s source of inspiration was fantasy art. In his case, the art of Magic: The Gathering and Warhammer board games, specifically the cover illustrations of the Warhammer books. And they continue to inspire and fuel his drive to this day.

Below is a small sampling of his work. As always, each image links back to the artist’s gallery. Enjoy!















Being inspired by art is something I  understand and identify with. Although I don’t draw anymore, I used to do a lot in my teens and early twenties, but writing has always had the stronger calling for me. And yet, both my drawing and writing aspirations can be blamed on fantasy art from artists like Frazetta and Jones and Bisley and many others. I may not draw anymore, but I write a lot and one of my sources of inspiration is still good fantasy art.  It’s also the reason I started this series.

Take a look at Joel’s paintings. They possess an ethereal tone in both line and color composition, and his use of muted colors allows for the light to appear more vibrant and dynamic. It adds a diaphanous hue to his paintings, creating a dreamlike state almost, but then, that is the nature of fantasy, is it not? An escape to the unseen world that coexist next to our own. If you want to know more about Joel and his work or even contact him for a commission, you’ll find him on Facebook or Tumblr.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments. And remember to check out my Art of Science Fiction post over at Kōsa Press.




#Art of Fantasy 44: Mateusz Oźmiński

mateusz-ozminski-angel-ozminskiMateusz Oźmiński is a concept artist and freelance illustrator from Poznan, Poland. Mateusz currently works for NetEase, a China-based Internet technology company that provides online gaming services to Internet users through in-house development or licensing of multi-player online role-playing games, including Fantasy Westward Journey, Westward Journey Online II, Westward Journey Online III, Tianxia III, Heroes of Tang Dynasty, Datang and Ghost, as well as Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft® and StarCraft® II.

Below is a small selection of the artist’s work. Each image links to the corresponding gallery. Enjoy!














Apart from concept work, Mateusz has also illustrated covers for The Legends of Caede book series by Jacob Boyda. Each artist I have on here is different in terms of style and tone and Mateusz is yet another artist who adds something unique to the game.

Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below. And don’t forget my Art of Science Fiction post over at Kōsa Press.



No More Words

imageI took part in a Flash Fiction Competition hosted by the César Egido Serrano, Museum of Words last year (or maybe it was earlier this year, I don’t remember). The competition is held annually with a first prize of $20,000. Yep, a pretty heavy payout for so few words, but trust me, having only a 100 words to write something profound severely limits your options.

The motto for this edition was: “Mandela: Words and Concord”, following the ethos of the César Egido Serrano Foundation of using words as a tool against violence and to promote dialogue. All-in-all, they received 35,609 applications.

I submitted two pieces of fiction.

Alas… I didn’t even make the shortlist.

Somehow during the writing of the story and the waiting, I must have really gotten emotionally invested because I actually believed I could win. And it kinda hurts a lot that I didn’t. When I wrote “No More Words” it  gave me goosebumps. Growing up in South Africa and hating it there for so very many reasons and considering the path my life eventually took, I felt uniquely equipped to write this little piece. A little piece that is epic in what it leaves unsaid.

Here it is:

No More Words

The old man paused and turned his gaze to the lands of his ancestors far below. He leaned on his staff and studied the valleys and rivers through heavy eyelids. Deep grooves lined his leathery face.

The journey up the mountain had been strenuous, filled with many perils.

Qamata called to him, his name a sigh on the warm, comforting wind. “Come child of Africa. You have done enough. It’s time now to rest weary bones. Your ancestors await you.”

The old man chuckled. “A good thing then, eh? I’ve used up all my words.”

“Indeed, Madiba,” Qamata replied. “Indeed.”

To give you some context here, Nelson Mandela was affectionately known as Madiba by most people in South Africa. Madiba is also the name of his clan. According to tradition, a clan name is considered far more  important than a surname as it refers to the ancestor from which a person descends.

Madiba was Xhosa, from the Thembu people to be precise. They are a subgroup of the Xhosa nation. Qamata is a prominent god in the folklore of Xhosa people of South-Africa. Qamata is the child of the sun god, Thixo, and the earth goddess, Jobela. Although Madiba was Christian, when I wrote my story I reimagined death as a journey back to the past, to the very beginning. And in this story I wanted Madiba to travel back to a world free of conflict and influence from outside. It felt natural to write the story this way and it made so much sense at the time. It still does to me.

So, while my story did not make the selection, I’m sharing it with you here on my blog so it may stay in the light. At least this way it won’t gather dust in the shadows of obscurity.

As for the other piece I submitted:

Words That Hurt

“But he hit me first!” Tears stained the little boy’s dust-caked cheeks. Blood trickled from a cut on his lip.

The woman held his hand in hers. His scuffed knuckles seemed alien on his young skin, like a corruption.

“Because you called him a coward.” Her eyes were soft and kindly and creased at the corners. She pressed a damp cloth to his lip and the boy winced. “Your lip will heal quickly, Kete, but your words hurt Jac deeply. It will not heal so quickly.”

The boy sobbed. “What can I do?”

“Apologize.” She smiled. “That might help.”

I don’t think this one is as emotionally strong, but the broken skin on the child’s knuckles being described as a corruption felt appropriate and in my view is a good commentary on violence. Again, the power is in what I left unsaid.

Of course, I’m biased. I fully acknowledge that. But I still get an emotional flux when I read my stories. We have only one life to live, after all, and how we live matters a great deal. Surely that must say something, right?

My apologies if today’s blog post sounds a bit whiney. I guess it is a little. But now that I have written this I do feel better. There is that, at least.

Love you all


PS: Having had time to reflect on my submissions and eliminating emotion entirely, I have concluded that my piece ended up closer to being an ode than it does a commentary on words and violence.

#Art of Fantasy 43: Igor Kieryluk


Igor Kieryluk is a digital illustrator and concept designer from Poland. His fantasy art has gained him an impressive list of clients from the gaming and entertainment industries. Companies like Wizards of the Coast, Marvel, DC Comics, Fantasy Flight Games, Warner Bros, and Sony Pictures were all impressed by Igor’s talent.

I can see why. He has a phenomenal talent. Igor’s palette shifts between greys and browns and is generally very muted, which makes his use of pastel in some places stand out even more. It creates a sombre, dreamlike effect. It also makes the reds scream at you.

Below is a small sample of his work. Each image links to the corresponding gallery. Enjoy!
















Let me know in the comments your thoughts. And remember my Art of Science Fiction post over at Kōsa Press.

And before I forget, I will post another interview with a Collective SF member soon. My wife is overseas for three weeks and with just me and the kids and my deadlines, I’ve been a bit slower than usual.

Take care!



The Collective SF / Skin-Deep

Log-entry-graphic-500I have another log entry for you from my alter ego, Wifelier Docht, over at The Collective SF’s blog. This latest installment is a bit grim and may just qualify as sci-fi-horror. You be the judge of that:


Will I ever escape? Do I dare think this? How many times over the 300 years have my thoughts drifted to fleeing this hell…

I fear I will forever be tethered to this ageless thing. I am doomed to scribe history until the machine has sucked me dry and disposes of me.

No…not disposes of. Recycle. I chronicle history with a bio-quill on parchment. Parchment made of skin taken from dead scribes.

The God-Machine recycles everything. I’ve seen what happens to the bodies when they die, when even the Embrosis can’t force the heart muscle to move and the brain at last withers and die.

Metallic tentacles snake from within the living walls and encircle the lifeless scribe, unplugging him, lifting him gently from his workstation. The walls open up and the tentacles disappear through the dark crevice, carrying the dead scribe with them, and melt together again as if it never opened.

At the beginning, so many years ago, shortly after I had been absorbed into the machine but before I became tethered, I found myself in a chamber not unlike a slaughter pit. Dead bodies of men and women were stacked on top of one another in piles. More hung from chains in dozens of rows. The foul stench of decay overpowered my senses and I fell to my knees and became sick on the metal floor. No doubt adding more fetor to the many other smells competing for dominance in that hellish place.

At the centre of the chamber, two creatures I did not recognise, not even from lore or fables or fantasy tales I grew up with, were butchering the body of a man, flaying skin from flesh like you would a deer or a rabbit…

Please read the rest of the entry over on The Collective SF’s blog. Go on, it’ll be fun and this being Halloween and all, why not?



#Art of Fantasy 42: Ni Yipeng


I tried to find more information about Ni Yipeng, but I failed. From what I can tell, the artist hails from Shanghai, China, and it seems have done concept designs for game companies. He is also an illustrator and digital artist.

Today’s post is slightly different to my normal fantasy posts, but then, considering last week’s post, there is no standard except the art needing to be awesome and falling broadly in fantasy, which I think these do.

I really love Ni’s work. The characters are brutal and savage and his use of vibrant foreground colors over muted backdrops only accentuate all the details in his paintings. His art reminds me of Brom’s style. Maybe because it crosses the line between fantasy and horror or maybe it’s because of his use of smooth textures.

Below as usual you’ll find a small collection of paintings. Each image links to the artist’s gallery. Enjoy!














ni-yipeng-I hope you enjoyed today’s post. Please let me know in the comments your thoughts, and remember to visit my Art of Science Fiction post over at Kōsa Press.