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Dixon, Don

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Artist.

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(1951-    ) American artist, long a resident of California. A passion for stargazing, and his admiration of artist Chesley Bonestell, led the young Dixon to begin painting and selling his own astronomical paintings in the early 1970s. These brought Dixon an invitation to work on a documentary film for NASA, leading to his involvement in other film projects and assignments to paint magazine and book covers. He is credited for his contributions to three genre-related films – the speculative documentary Overlords of the U.F.O. (1976), Roger Corman's Battle beyond the Stars (1980), and the horror film Wolf Creek (2005) – though he has also done work for numerous science documentaries.

Dixon's first sf cover, for the June 1974 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, depicted a Pioneer space probe approaching the planet Saturn observed sideways against a realistically black sky. He then provided the Stackpole Books edition of T A Heppenheimer's (1947-    ) nonfictional Colonies in Space (1977) with a strikingly colourful cover painting of the interior of a well-manicured Space Habitat, but his first official sf book cover was for John Brunner's The Crucible of Time (1983), an image of a large artificial world with transparent panels showing lush greenery growing within. While stars and planets in space, exotic spacecraft, and eerie alien landscapes predictably dominated his work, Dixon could capably move outside of his comfort zone with works like his cover for a 1984 republication of Isaac Asimov's I, Robot (coll of linked stories 1950) showing an adorable little girl conversing with a seated robot. A more characteristic cover for another Asimov book, Nemesis (1989), showing a spacecraft consisting of linked spherical modules orbiting a cloud-covered planet, was nominated for a Chesley Award. A shift toward digital art in the 1990s brought a new vividness and intensity to Dixon covers for books like Michael McCollum's Gibraltar Earth (1999) and Kim Stanley Robinson's The Martians (1999), but he has also continued to employing more traditional methods like oil, acrylics, and gouache. He has taken on fewer projects since accepting a full-time position as Art Director of Griffith Observatory in 1991. [GW]

Don Dixon

born Easton, Pennsylvania: 1951


  • Universe (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1981) [graph: astronomical photographs and paintings with text by Dixon: hb/Don Dixon]


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