(1953- ) Croatian artist, now a resident of New York City, who has also been credited (presumably in error) as Danilo Ducat. He first visited the city in 1988 in search of artistic assignments and settled there permanently in 1991, though otherwise little is known about his background. His early covers, mostly for Harper, are generally unremarkable; some featured little real artwork, while others offered only straightforward representational scenes, sometimes dominated by a beautiful woman's face looming above or behind the characters. By the mid-1990s, however, Ducak was doing more impressive work, including a cover for Alison Sinclair's Legacies (1995) that foregrounded a rounded spacecraft with a backdrop of a cloudy planet and three smaller images in rectangles. Another clever effort, for the cover of A A Attanasio's The Dragon and the Unicorn (1996), shows the black silhouette of a dragon, facing left, whose form delineates the image of a white unicorn, facing right. But every Ducak cover that stood out – like his cover for Gardner Dozois and Sheila Williams's anthology Isaac Asimov's Solar System (anth 1999), a colourful collage of planetary images and star charts, or his delicate, pastel rendering of a beclouded spacecraft for Charles Stross's Singularity Sky (2003) – would be accompanied by other covers that were dull or nondescript, like those he painted for John Varley's The Golden Globe (1998) and Christopher Golden's Of Masques and Martyrs (1998). Like others in the field, Ducak has pronounced himself discouraged by the lower rates now being paid cover artists and, recently inactive in that area, is focusing his energies elsewhere, including artwork for some science books and magazines.
It is easy to see why Ducak has attracted little attention among sf readers: not only did his work tend to vary in its quality, as noted, but he has made no effort to promote himself and never displayed anything resembling a distinctively personal style. Yet when the stars were properly aligned, one might say, his art could be genuinely memorable. [GW]
born Zagreb, Croatia [then Yugoslavia]: 1953
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