science fiction illustration for science fiction book, magazine, or CD cover artwork

Sometimes a sketch for a book or CD cover illustration doesn’t work for the client; often this is more a matter of whether it fits into the needs or style the client is looking for at the moment rather than the merit of the idea itself. Which is why a seasoned illustrator springs several different sketches on a client before completing any given picture.

Otherwise there can be much wheel spinning to no avail.

On occasion one of these rejected sketches seems worth pursuing as something that might generate a future sale with another client (as yet undiscovered). This science fiction illustration is one such project. (I’ve dubbed it “Commander Carson and the Lost Space Raiders” since it seems somewhat of a throwback to the golden age of science fiction illustration work.)

The illustration just seemed like something that might one day find its way onto another client’s science fiction book cover – or at least inspire an idea or two for another project sometime in the future. (Yes, plan way ahead is the name of the game in the illustration business.)

So I went ahead and finished this illustration, polishing it with an eye toward possible future sales to the science fiction book or SF magazine market.

Now… I cross my fingers and wait for the time when this long-term investment attracts some attention from a writer, editor, or art director in the science fiction marketplace looking for such an illustration for their book or magazine.

Duncan Long is a freelance magazine and book cover illustrator (and sometimes science fiction cover illustrator) for HarperCollins, PS Publishing, Pocket Books, Solomon Press, Fort Ross, The Sun, Asimov Science Fiction Magazine and many other publishers and self-publishing authors. See his cover illustrations at: