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Gambino, Fred

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Artist.

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(1956-    ) UK illustrator who has created many book covers but is now primarily active in screen projects. His earliest inspirations were Doctor Who, the Gerry Anderson puppet shows and, a little later, an exhibition by Chris Foss. He graduated from Derby College of Art and Technology and began presenting his portfolio to London publishers. His first cover was for a 1978 Sphere Books edition of Michael Bishop's Beneath the Shattered Moons (1976). At the time he worked mainly in oils, although he would soon, as commissions became more frequent, shift to airbrush/acrylics. During the 1980s, he was painting covers in other genres as well as sf. When digital techniques became available in the mid-1990s, Gambino was one of the first artists to exploit them. His name soon became synonymous with the best of the new wave of digital sf art; where he differed from many is that he used the technology not solely to produce hard-edged hi-tech sheen – although that is there too – but to create surprisingly atmospheric, painterly pieces. Among his many other commissions for digital art was that of producing seven Illustrations for a 1998 US Postal Services booklet celebrating the set of stamps USPS had produced featuring NASA's space programme.

In 2001 Gambino was hired by DNA Productions as one of the artists working on the Oscar-nominated animated feature Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (2001), and since then most of his efforts have been devoted to movies and television – although he still executes copious sf cover Illustrations and in 2006 illustrated the children's book Life-Size Dragons (2006) by John Grant. In 2002-2003 he was employed to visually develop a TV series that eventually foundered, "Project X". The animated movie The Ant Bully (2006), on which he worked as concept artist, matte painter and visual development artist, was far more successful. He served as digital matte painter on the animated feature The Tale of Despereaux (2008), and has been Art Director on Firebreather (2010 TVM) and the forthcoming Escape from Planet Earth (2012), both likewise animated. [JGr]

Fred Gambino

born Derby: 3 September 1956


works illustrated

  • Greg Bear. Heads (London: Headline, 1990) [hb/Fred Gambino]
  • John Grant. Life-Size Dragons (London: Chrysalis, 2006) [chap: graph: for children: hb/Fred Gambino]


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