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Burns, Jim

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Artist.

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(1948-    ) Welsh illustrator, primarily of sf, born in Cardiff, with a diploma from St Martin's School of Art, London. From 1972 to 1979 his work was exclusively for UK publishers, notably Sphere Books, and he was not really known in the USA until publication of his illustrated book Planet Story (1979), with story by Harry Harrison. Since 1980 much of his book-cover work has been for US publishers, including Bantam Books, Ace Books, Berkley and Byron Preiss, including the interior black-and-white illustrations for the latter's Eye (coll 1985) by Frank Herbert. Burns has worked in many media, initially acrylics, more recently direct to computer; but has even more recently turned to oils on canvas; his work is realistic, subtly textured, well known for its attractive women (sometimes attacked as sexist) and constantly inventive. It gives ample evidence in its detail that Burns – somewhat unusually in this field – actually reads the books that he illustrates. His work is spectacularly commercial (but not merely so) and, along with that of Don Maitz and Michael Whelan, was perhaps the most proficient being produced in the field of the 1990s. More than a hundred of his covers may be seen in Lightship (graph coll 1985), with text by Christopher Evans. A further substantial collection of his work is Transluminal: The Paintings of Jim Burns (graph coll 1999); Imago (graph coll 2005 chap) assembles images of Women in SF and in fantasy.

Beginning in 1980, Burns has won over a dozen BSFA Awards as best artist and for specific pieces of artwork. In 1987 he became the first UK winner of a Hugo for Best Professional Artist; he won this award again in 2005, remained its only non-US recipient until 2010, and is still the sole British winner. In 2014 he received the Chesley Award for lifetime achievement. [PN/DRL]

see also: Illustration; Technology.

Jim Burns

born Cardiff, Glamorgan, Wales: 10 April 1948




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