Thrice Told Tales a book cover illustration by book artist Duncan Long

Thrice Told Tales - Duncan Long

From time to time, I create new illustrations “just for fun” with the hope that eventually they’ll find a buyer. This generally proves a good investment of my time with most such pictures eventually finding a home on a book or magazine cover. The plus of these self-directed illustrations is that they’re produced more quickly since only my mental vision is in play rather than that of a publisher or art director. Basically these do-it-yourself pieces of art cut out the middle man.

In doing such work, I am often reminded of the old story that Michelangelo, when asked how the statue of David was carved, replied, “It’s simple. You just chisel away the marble that doesn’t look like David.”

Basically I start with the vision I want to see, and then push electrons around on my digital tablet until that picture appears on the monitor.

Since my online horror gallery needed to be replenished, this round of painting was done with an eye toward that genre. Confession: I always feel a little guilty about producing horror illustrations, in part because they are so far removed from the beauty around me and the joy I have in life. Also, such illustrations seem almost obscenely easy to create since anything a little out of the norm starts to seem ugly, horrifying, and/or troubling to the human mind. We each have a mind’s eye conception of beauty, and when that ideal is a little off the mark, the brain starts to feel fear and revulsion.

So horror artwork is basically a job of creating things that aren’t quite right. Anti-perfectionism, if you will.

That said, polishing the rough draft of such artwork so it looks “real” is the flip side of this coin, so in the end the illustration must have the same polish and reworking that would go into a beautiful face or scene. I’m not sure what the moral of the story is, but the process is perhaps a little strange at best.

Precious Ties -- artwork by book illustrator Duncan Long

Precious Ties -- Duncan Long

Pig god book cover artwork illustration by book illustrator Duncan Long

The Pig God - Duncan Long

Strange Lights In the House book cover artwork illustration by book artist Duncan Long

Strange Lights In the House - Duncan Long

Will You Still Love Me? - an illustration by artist Duncan Long

Will You Still Love Me? - Duncan Long

Duncan Long loves creating book cover artwork but feels guilty painting horror illustrations. His artwork appears on book cover designs from HarperCollins, PS Publishing, Pocket Books, Moonstone Books, and Enslow Publishers. You can see more of his illustrations in Duncan Long’s Portfolio