Lucas Graciano is a multi-award winning artist from Oceanside in the US. He started in the video game industry as a visual development artist and developed over time into an accomplished illustrator. As a freelance artist, he focusses primarily on fantasy illustration and book covers, card art, and other promotional works for companies like Blizzard Entertainment, Dark Horse Publishing, Paizo, Sony Online Entertainment, Tor Publishing, Wizards of the Coast, and many others.
Some of the projects he worked on include Dungeons and Dragons, Everquest, Magic the Gathering, Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars. Lucas also won the Chesley Award for Best Gaming-Related Illustration three times as well as Spectrum’s Silver Award, including an Honorable Mention in the Art Renewal Center’s 2013 “Imaginative Realism” category.
Lucas’ illustrations remind me of the covers you used to get in the late 70s and during the 80s, maybe even early 90s. I miss covers by artists like Frank Frazetta, Jeff Jones, Ken Kelley, and Boris Vallejo. You just don’t find the same level of awesome anymore. I’m not saying modern book covers are necessarily bad per se, but they generally don’t fill me with awe.
Of course, there are exceptions like the Broken Empire series by Mark Lawrence, Age of Conan: The God in the Moon by Richard A. Knaak (and pretty much all the covers for this series), and RPG novelizations generally like World of Warcraft, Dragonlance, and Warhammer. However, in the great sea of fantasy books, they only form a small group, which means finding a good fantasy cover that bounces your heart to the ceiling is rare. Most covers these days are “photoshopped” stock photos. I am not a fan.
As a kid, a book’s cover used to sell me the book more than the story did. It was only as I got older that I paid more attention to the description on the back, but even then, if the cover was crap, then the description had to really compel me otherwise the book went back on the shelve. Such is the power of a beautiful cover. And today’s artist reminded me again of that fact.
I can say this at least, as you get older you start to follow your favorite authors and read whatever they publish, irrespective of the covers for their books.
As always, let me know your thoughts in the comments and remember to check out this week’s Art of Science Fiction. Have a good one!