Thursday 20 October 2011

Things I Love 002 - Bob Pepper

In the past few years I've really started appreciating and digging out paperback artwork from the 60's and 70's, specifically sci-fi/fantasy subject matter with psychedelic stylings of the period. Among great names such as Wilson McLean, Burt Forbes, Leo and Diane Dillon and David McCall Johnson, the artist that really stood out for me was Bob Pepper.

I absolutely love his bold, graphic outlines encasing unrestrained watercolouring effects.

In the 60's he created book covers for fantasy novels reprinted by Ballantine and a lot of album artwork (specifically for Elektra records), most famously for Love's 'Forever Changes' album.

Below is a selection of book cover designs:

In an interview found on this site dedicated to the Dark Tower/Dragonmaster board game series he created artwork for, he sheds some light on his working method:

'My technique is to cement down charcoal paper, float water into areas of the illustration, and border the area with dark gouache which spreads and settles in the warpings of the wet paper. After that dries flat, I float dyes on top to color the area. I love the whole process of illustration, but mostly the research and bringing together of many different parts to form a coherent whole design that I like. I also think that your state of mind, (what interests you) has, really, everything to do with it!'

I've never used gouache so in some ways I'm none the wiser how you'd go about recreating a bit of that Bob Pepper magic!

For me, a real high point of his output is 6 cover designs he did for Philip K Dick titles in the early 80's for DAW books.

The artwork of Bob Pepper and other commercial illustrators like him, were created for outlets such as the not highly respected, read em and chuck em paperback genre market, but the pre-digital craftmanship and singularity of the work has to be appreciated.

I'd really love to have the opportunity to pick up a collected edition of his work rather than making do with fishing out low resolution jpegs online.

1 comment:

  1. The jpeg file above that is named sample02.jpg is Pepper's cover painting for Ellison Wonderland, a collection of short stories by Harlan Ellison. The book was published in 1974 by Signet, and at some point if the 1970s or early 1980s I read a piece by Ellison in which he expressed his dislike of this particular cover. Unfortunately I can't remember where those comments were published; it could have been an article, and interview, or the introduction to one of his books.