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Gudynas, Peter

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Artist.

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(1954-    ) British artist, long a resident of Birmingham, though he has also lived in London; his childhood fondness for sf books, films, and television programs inspired a lifelong interest in the genre. A BA in Graphic Design from Lanchester Polytechnic (now called Coventry University) led in 1976 to his first assignment to paint sf book covers, for Panther, and he went on to produce covers for many other British and American publishers, including Ace Books, Berkley Books, DAW Books, HarperCollins, Pan, Penguin, and Tor Books; in 1978, he also earned an MA degree in Visual Communication and Graphic Design from Birmingham Polytechnic (now called Birmingham City University). In 1987, he turned his energies to digital art, in part due to respiratory problems caused by inhaling paint fumes, but also because it seemed suitable for his futuristic projects; with his brother Bernard he founded Zap Art Productions to focus on this emerging form of art. While applying his new skills to the book cover assignments that he continued receiving during the 1980s and 1990s, Gudynas also did some art for computer games and a few album covers, including Rhythm Quest's EP The Dreams (1992) and the compilation album Made in Detroit (1992). In the late 1990s, a combination of factors – changes in the publishing marketplace, the severing of his relationship with his New York agent, and a growing disillusionment with the state of current sf – led Gudynas to shift his attention away from book covers to instead concentrate on producing works of fine art to be shown at exhibitions, which has remained his primary avocation.

However Gudynas's covers are generated, they tend to be colourful and strikingly surreal; one acclaimed image, for the cover of a 1978 republication of Philip K Dick's The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (1964), shows an ethereal man apparently standing and gesturing in outer space in front of a series of squares displaying a fragmented Martian landscape. One might also praise, among many others worthy of mention, the spacesuited mummy on his 1978 cover for Ian Watson's The Martian Inca (1977), the futuristic cityscape on his 1982 cover for Christopher Evans's Capella's Golden Eyes (1980), and the pair of strange robots, one intact and one fragmented, on his 1985 cover for John T Sladek's Tik-Tok (1983). He also provided Interzone with two intriguing covers for the May/June 1989 and October 1992 issues, and some of his paintings were reused for the 1980s covers of books in the French Anticipation series. Along with other works in the 1990s, Gudynas produced digitally generated heads for his cover for James P Hogan's Entoverse (1991) and his 1996 cover of Bruce Sterling's Globalhead (coll 1992) that are frankly more artistically satisfying than the similar, more celebrated efforts of Rick Berry. Despite his recent inactivity in the field, the ongoing obscurity of this artist is both unjust and puzzling, and a retrospective compilation of his best sf covers seems long overdue. [GW]

Peter Gudynas

born Birmingham, England: 1954


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