Biography

“It is the first vision that counts. The artist has only to remain true to his dream and it will possess his work in such a manner that it will resemble the work of no other man.”

Albert Pinkham Ryder

M ichael Whelan is one of the world’s premier painters of imaginative realism. For more than 35 years he has created book and album covers for authors and musicians like Isaac Asimov, Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, the Jacksons and MeatLoaf. His clients have included every major U.S. book publisher, the National Geographic Society, CBS Records, and the Franklin Mint.

Since 1995, he has also pursued a fine art career and his non-commissioned works are in established collections throughout the world.

A graduate of San Jose State University with a BA in Painting and a President’s Scholar, Michael went on to attend the Art Center College of Design also in California, but he dropped out to accept his first book cover assignment. He soon became known for his dedication to bringing an author’s words to life and Whelan covers dominated the science fiction and fantasy field throughout the 80’s and 90’s. He was largely responsible for the realistic style of genre covers of that era, and his stunning color and composition have influenced many artists to this day.

Michael Whelan has published 4 art books as well as numerous limited edition prints, posters, calendars, and licensed products such as greeting cards, t-shirts and sculptures.

As the most honored artist in Science Fiction, Michael has won an unprecedented 15 Hugo Awards (SF’s Oscar), 3 World Fantasy Awards, and 13 Chesleys from the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists. The readers of Locus Magazine (for SF insiders) have named him Best Professional Artist 28 times in their annual poll and the Spectrum Annual of the Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art named him a Grand Master in 2004. Other noteworthy awards include a Gold Medal from the Society of Illustrators, a Vargas Award, a Grumbacher Gold Medal, and the Solstice Award from the Science Fiction Writers of America.

In 2009, he was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in Seattle, the first living artist to be named to the distinguished list that features such luminaries as H.G. Wells, Steven Spielberg, Rod Serling, and Ursula K. Le Guin.

Michael is an adviser to the Masters in Fine Arts Program at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, Connecticut.

Whelan paintings are rich in symbolism and offer many layers of meaning to be explored, but Michael Whelan’s lifelong passion has been to live up to his favorite quote from G.K Chesterton: “The dignity of the artist lies in his duty of keeping awake the sense of wonder in the world.”

Picture of Michael Whelan

EXHIBITIONS

BEYOND SCIENCE FICTION

Riverside Art Museum – Riverside, CA February 11 – May 25, 2017

infra:Real – THE ART OF IMAGINATIVE REALISM

Jonathan Levine Gallery – New York, NY August 5-22, 2015

LARGE AS LIFE

Tree’s Place Gallery – Orleans, MA July 19-24, 2013

MICHAEL WHELAN & RUSSELL GORDON

Tree’s Place Gallery – Orleans, MA August 21, 2010

ARCHETYPE

IO Gallery – Cornwall Bridge, CT September 6 – October 12, 2008

MICHAEL WHELAN & ROBERT VICKREY: IMAGINATIVE REALISM

Tree’s Place Gallery – Orleans, MA August 16 – 21, 2008

IMAGINATIVE REALISM, MICHAEL WHELAN & MICHAEL MARIANO

Tree’s Place Gallery – Orleans, MA 2007

TREE’S PLACE 1999

Tree’s Place Gallery – Orleans, MA 1999

TREE’S PLACE 1997

Tree’s Place Gallery – Orleans, MA 1997

HONORS

Allied Artists of America

Grumbacher Gold MedalClimber (1994)

Association of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists (ASFA) – CHESLEY AWARD

Best Cover Illustration (7)1985; 1987; 1991-1992; 1997; 2000; 2010 Best Color Work, Unpublished (3)1987; 2001; 2003 Best Monochrome Work, Unpublished1992 Best Magazine Cover1993 Artistic Achievement1991

Communication Arts Annual

Award for Excellence

DESI “Award for Excellence”

Graphic Design: USA

HUGO AWARD

Best Professional Artist (13)1980-1986; 1988-1992; 2000; 2002 Best Original ArtworkThe Summer Queen (1992) Best Non-Fiction BookMichael Whelan’s Works of Wonder (1988) SuperHugo – Best Artist of the Last 50 Years1992

LOCUS AWARD

Best Professional Artist (30)1980-2000; 2002; 2004-2006; 2009-2010; 2013-2014 Best Art BookThe Art of Michael Whelan (1994)

SCIENCE FICTION HALL OF FAME

First Living Artist Inducted2009 Member of Advisory Board

SCIENCE FICTION WRITERS OF AMERICA (SFWA) – SOLSTICE AWARD

Significant Impact on Science Fiction and Fantasy

SOCIETY OF ILLUSTRATORS

Gold MedalCrux Humanus (1997)

SPECTRUM AWARD

Gold Medal, UnpublishedPrudence 2 (1997)
Reach (2000) Grandmaster – Lifetime Achievement2004

WASHINGTON ART DIRECTORS MERIT AWARD

WESTERN CONNECTICUT STATE UNIVERSITY

Master of Fine Arts Program – Advisory Board

WORLD FANTASY AWARD

Best Artist1981-1983