|On Alan Gutierrez|
|Written by Administrator|
|Wednesday, 12 November 2008 16:41|
On Alan Gutierrez
By Jack Williamson
Alan Gutierrez has done the cover paintings for a number of my novels. I'm happy with them, and happy with this chance to write a few words about his life and work.
Born in Kansas City, MO, in 1958, he grew up in Southern California. He was still in his teens when his passion for science fiction was inspired by a collection of Analog and Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine covers, by such great pioneers of the genre as Frank Kelly Freas, Rick Sternbach, and Alex Schomberg. Suddenly, he says, "I simply knew what I wanted to do with my life."
He has done it, graduating from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA, and recieving his BFA in illustration in 1982. Before graduation, He made his first cover sale to a small fanzine, "Rigel" that paid him $100. He says it was printed in ghastly two tone scheme with purple, "but I was very excited."
His star climbed higher in 1983, when Tor Books assigned him to do the cover for The Lagrangists by Mack Reynolds. He worked almost nonstop with cover art until the mid-list market collapsed in the 90's. He fell in love with the southwest, and moved to Arizona, married his wife Rhonda, and had two daughters, Rachel, now eleven, and Monica, five. He survived hard times by doing game trading cards and covers for Popular Mechanics.
He says a typical cover takes him two or three weeks. First of all, he reads the manuscript to get a feel for it. He says he always is thinking of the "man on the street" who isn't already familiar with the future worlds of science fiction. Speaking of his fine cover for my own Ultimate Earth which he did in the December 2000 Analog, he says he tried to "make the strange familiar, and the familiar strange."
That technique reflects the wonder that set the course of my own life back in the 1920's, when I discovered the classic science fiction of H.G. Wells, A. Merritt, and Edgar Rice Burroughs reprinted in the old Amazing Stories.
I'd grown up on a little sand-hill ranch in the semi-desert of Eastern New Mexico. Life had looked limited and futureless. Those stiff gray pulp pages dazzled me with visions of a limitless future I'd never imagined. Tales of travel in space, and time, and possible new worlds better than our own. Sadly, that sense of wonder is hard to recover now. I've known scores of veteran fans who cherish the same fond recollections and fail to find it in so much of recent science fiction.
Those dazzling new ideas are no longer new. Now they're the too-familiar stuff of the Saturday morning kiddy shows. The futures they forcast are already here, but they came at a cost. Atomic science promised us limitless free power and gave us the nuclear bomb. Rocket science promised the stars and gave us the ballistic missile. Whole generations have survived the cold war and "the balance of terror."
Yet the sense of wonder does live on. The universe of what we know is still expanding, faster in fact that it ever did. Exploring the frontiers between the world we know and the worlds we imagine is still an exciting game. Alan Gutierrez has the vision to make those futures real and the craft to show them to us all.
- Jack Williamson, April 2002