The Longevity Thesis Book Video

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Michael Leadingham, cover artist for The Longevity Thesis

Michael Leadingham is a freelance artist based in Las Vegas, who specialises in illustrations for fantasy publications. He is also the founder of the online gallery called Painters Block.

We've all heard the cliché, "never judge a book by its cover" and we all know that's exactly what we do. Cover art is not only essential to the completion of a book, but it's the first thing anyone sees, and thus, must have a significant impact on a potential reader.When it came time to find an artist for The Longevity Thesis, Dragon Moon Press publisher Gwen Gades asked me how I felt about having Michael Leadingham paint the cover. She referred me to the painting Michael had done for Connie Ward's book, The Gryphon Highlord, to see if I liked it. I thought it was fantastic, and enthusiastically agreed. When presented with the draft of the cover, there were very few changes that I requested (different eye colour, slightly longer hair, and some dust around the skeletons' feet) and then . . . it was perfect!

Aside from promoting his own work online, Michael also tries to help his peers, by posting their work collectively on a site called Painters Block. When asked about it, Michael says, "Heh well, that's my new baby. Painters Block is an artists' community dedicated to promoting up and coming illustrators. We have a juried gallery with 3 editors that critique submitted art. We of course accept only the best works. When we do reject a piece we of course explain in detail to the artists why it wasn't accepted. Our hopes are that the rejection critiques will help the artist grow and reach their fullest potential. Our hopes are that Painters Block becomes a respected community where new and upcoming artists will be able to grow and give back in the form of teaching others. That's a real goal is teaching others, and bringing them business prospects."

"Concrete Jungle" by Michael Leadingham.

Michael himself studied illustrating technique on his own, building up his abilities ever "since [he] could hold a pencil". True to his vision of Painters Block, he got most of his professional training through critiques and advice given by other artists, and by studying their methods. He lists Keith Parkinson, Todd Lockwood, J.P. Targete, Frank Frazzetta, and Michael Whelan as major inspirational influences, and was also impressed enough by the movie "300" to consider picking up Frank Miller's graphic novel version.When painting with traditional media, Michael prefers watercolour, however most of his professional work is now done digitally. "I actually use a PC for most of my work, but recently I have been exploring the idea of using a Mac. Mostly I use Windows because for the longest time that was the only operating system that offered the paint programs I use (Photoshop and Corel Painter). A Mac is definitely better for artwork though, as far as power [goes]," he said. "I use a Wacom tablet with an Intous stylus. It's the best I have found so far. Works particularly well with Painter."

"Castle Falls" by Michael Leadingham.

The biggest challenge facing artists today is being taken for granted. Michael says, "Many people feel artists are merely hobbyists, and should give artwork away for free. Once upon a time artists were revered much like movie stars of today. Not anymore though. The competition is so fierce, and instant gratification has become the norm. Hard work, time taken
to complete real works of art is no longer respected I'm afraid." Looking at his paintings, it seems hard to not appreciate the skill and effort required to produce such images. How many of us would be able to generate our own book covers with the speed and accuracy provided by a professional artist? It's a task that certainly any author would find intimidating.

Michael's actual hobbies include building model ships, "especially the Pirateology series of games and models", and he is an avid reader of fantasy and science fiction. His interest in all things oceanic extends to an unfulfilled wish to become a marine biologist . . . if only it weren't for the required math! When not painting book covers, he also illustrates for posters and magazines. "Right now I'm working on a commission for a custom truck builder who wants to show his truck at a truck show. It will be called 'First Knight' so he wants a King Arthur theme painted on the truck. I am also the Senior Artist for Virtual Tales Publishing."

So there you have it, the man behind the cover painting for The Longevity Thesis. Michael Leadingham's paintings appear on the Conceptual Design Works webpage, as well as on Painters Block. Inspiration for All!

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