Elson, Peter

Tagged: Art

(1947-1998) UK illustrator active during the 1980s and 1990s painting Hard SF covers depicting space hardware in the manner popularized by Chris Foss. He received his formal art education at Ealing Art College, then spent several years as a jobbing artist before, in 1975, winning an art competition mounted by the UK's Science Fiction Monthly. Thereafter, his sf cover art was very much in demand, his first cover probably being that for the 1976 Arrow paperback reprint of Philip K Dick's Vulcan's Hammer (1960); although, unlike such contemporary compatriots as Chris Moore and Fred Gambino, he declined to adopt the new technologies that swept the field during the 1990s, preferring to stick to acrylics and airbrush, his output seems barely to have eased as a result – although he would never again match the year 1980, in which at least 14 of his covers appeared. He also provided many of the Illustrations, often reprints of his cover artworks, for the four Terran Trade Authority books (1978-80) by Steven Caldwell (with, in one instance, Charles Herridge). His illustrations were acknowledged as a significant influence on the design of the Videogame Homeworld (1999); one of the characters in that game is called Captain Elson, in tribute to the artist.

During times when sf commissions lagged, Elson took on commissions to paint theatrical scenery and fairground attractions. It was while relaxing in the pub after a day's work painting a merry-go-round for the Butlins Resort at Skegness in the English Midlands that he died of a sudden heart attack, tragically young.

A book of his work is Parallel Lines (graph 1981), done jointly with Chris Moore. [JGr]

Peter George Elson

born Ealing, London: 13 January 1947

died Skegness, Lincolnshire: March 1998

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