Michael Whelan sat down for an interview with Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe last Saturday. The podcast is now available for download or to listen to online. Among the topics discussed were digital art and art versus technology.
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EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a 1997 interview I conducted with Michael Whelan shortly after his first one man show at Tree’s Place in Orleans, MA. While Whelan had been devoting more time to his personal visions since the early ’90s, the success of this gallery opening led to another Tree’s Place show in 1999 and his eventual departure from illustration as he shifted focus to his gallery work.
For a long time, you’ve talked about splitting time between illustration and your fine art work. What does each mean to you?
Well, my illustration was always my guiding light through the years. It was what I loved to do the most as a child and what I always sought to do and denied myself until I was almost through college, but once I started getting work as an illustrator it was the realization of a dream.
What I wanted to do more than anything was to be a pilot or an astronaut, but I couldn’t do that. Then I had other goals, like any person who does something creative. You’re setting new horizons for yourself.
Once I actually started making a living as an illustrator doing book covers, which was something I thought I’d never really get to, then it was a question of—well, I’ve always wanted to do the John Carter Mars series and boom I got the assignment. These things just kind of came to me.