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Walotsky, Ron

Entry updated 19 February 2024. Tagged: Artist.

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(1943-2002) US illustrator who began his career in sf art with the cover for the May 1967 edition of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, illustrating Phyllis Gotlieb's novelette "Planetoid Idiot". Walotsky would continue to be associated with F&SF for the rest of his life, painting some sixty covers for the magazine. He also produced many book covers and brochure paintings for the Science Fiction Book Club in addition to covers for trade publishers – the first being commissioned by Avon for Wyman Guin's collection Living Way Out (coll 1967) – record sleeves, posters, erotica and much else, including four cards for the Magic: The Gathering Collectible Card Game.

Walotsky received his formal art training at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, and he never lost his interest in fine art. He often expressed frustration at the way some gallery owners would instantly switch off their interest in his work on hearing that he also created sf illustration. His non-commercial paintings tended to be curiously surreal, mixing realistic and abstract elements in a way that could be quite unsettling. Many were part of his long Children series, in which fairly realistic depictions of children were given a surrealistic backdrop, which had the effect of both enhancing the surreality and creating an odd sense of unidentifiable menace. Towards the end of his life he began to produce a series of 3D pieces in which he painted onto the shells of horseshoe crabs found on the beach near his Florida home. He called this series of pieces "Ancient Warriors of Lost Civilizations" because of the pieces' resemblance to face armour.

He usually worked in acrylics, with or without airbrush. Much of his work retained the hippy sensibility, the psychedelia, of his earliest commercial projects, produced in the 1960s – it is no coincidence that the book collecting his work was called Inner Visions (2000) – but he was very versatile and, when the subject matter called for it, he could paint Hard SF as well as anyone. He was nominated for a dozen Chesley Awards, including for Artistic Achievement in 2000, but surprisingly never won one. He did, however, receive the Frank R Paul Award in 1987. [JGr]

Ronald Walotsky

born New York: 21 August 1943

died Ormond, Florida: 29 July 2002


works illustrated

about the artist

  • Donna Andrew. "Ron Walotsky: The Fine Art of Covers" (April 2000 Crescent Blues web) [Interview: mag/]


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