Recently I got to know Jim Burns.
Okay so it’s only on social media but hell! This is a man who has been a great influence on my work for as a long as I can remember being interested in Science fiction and he actually takes the time to talk with me. I think the first time I saw his work (at least attributed) was in Omni (a Science fiction and fact magazine) in the late 70’s.
The thing that stuck me about the way he worked was was his ability to contrast very human Star-ships, machinery and people with incredibly “alien” Alien star-ships, machines and characters. The alien part of his work can be almost jarring in it’s difference, and yet at the same time it looks very natural in the scene.
Jim is one of the most approachable, pleasant people I’ve ever had the pleasure to talk to and I still feel awestruck every time we talk.
The realism of his work and the incredible detail he applies meticulously have always been something I strive to achieve, with varying degree’s of success, but I have to say the most important thing he does is to take the viewer away from the current reality, into the reality of his science fiction. And something about the way he does this seems to connect to the almost primeval parts of the mind. The effect of looking at his work is almost like experiencing recovered memories, filled with the almost overpowering emotions of awe, excitement and discovery. The truth is when I look at his art I almost become that “starry eyed teen” again. Speaking of being a “starry eyed teen” I remember the first time I saw the cover for Stanislaw Lem’s “The Cyberiad: Fables for the Cybernetic Age” painted by Jim. The image is so alien and yet at the same time so fascinating that it has stuck with me. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an image that had such a profound effect on my outlook before or since.
Since I was first introduced to Jim’s Art I wondered what it would be like to have the opportunity to work on such images. In 2012 that opportunity came about when Richard Tongue ordered three book covers from me.
He sent me the books, I read them and really enjoyed them. I remember I put together the roughs for Richard and we just couldn’t finish them fast enough. I knew then that something major was happening in my journey.
Since then Richard and I have worked together on multiple covers (more than 25 if I remember correctly) and Richard recently told me,
” You’ve done some wonderful covers for me over the years, and I always look forward to each one. Often they are some of my biggest inspirations when it comes to writing the book; it’s always great to have that in front of me, urging me on.” when he ordered this:
It is extraordinary to hear such words directed at me when I could say exactly the same thing about about Richard’s and Jim’s work. Also It would be remiss not to say that thanks to the work I’ve done for Richard I’ve also been commissioned to work on many other projects in a similar vein.
Another major influence on my outlook was the magazine OMNI and they just ran a fantastic interview with Jim that I heartily recommend you go read. It’s right here: https://omni.media/jim-burns-interview
I think all that is left to say is a big thank you to Jim for being such an inspiration to me and thank you to Richard for allowing me to put that inspiration into action
You can visit Jim’s website here:
and Richards here:
UPDATE: Jim’s reply on facebook:
As ever he is humble, and wouldn’t we all love to hear that speech. I’ve asked him if it’s around and I’ll let you know what he says.
Bellow in the comments is Richards Response and I have to say I am humbled.
I think I’m going to try and do more posts like this about creators and their influence and if possible I’ll try and get some interviews.