Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Artist feature: Les Edwards (Born 1949)

Ageing Illustrator (Les Edwards, 2004 )
Used without permission.

(short note: no more french version for now. too much hassle.)

Heroquest  (Les Edwards, 1988)
Used without permission.
Les Edwards’ art is well known to fantasy, science fiction and horror enthusiasts. The provider of many illustrations for novels, Roleplaying games, tabletop games, records, movies, Mr Edwards has won numerous awards during his 35 years long career. My introduction to his works, like many kids of my generation, came through the art he did for Milton & Bradley’s Heroquest and other fantasy games produced in the late 80s.

The Ghoul (Les Edwards, 1979)
Used without permission.

Born in 1949 in what us frenchmen still like to call « the perfid albion », Les Edwards attended the Hornsey College of Arts from 1968 to 1972. According to him, the experience failed to provide any real use in his career, and the general opinion there was that he would never make it as an illustrator, due to the perception that the job was too difficult, which, according to an interview given by Mr Edwards a few years ago, is partly right as it is a rather insecure job.

After graduating, he went on to work for the Young Artist agency in London, and then began working as a freelance illustrator. He is best known for his book covers for horror novels (his favourite genre to illustrate). He credits this taste for horror and fantastic in these words: "I've always been attracted to the strange and the bizarre in any form so it was natural for me to gravitate towards the fantastic genres." Although according to him, there are less and less horror novels to illustrate, as publishers seem a bit reluctant toward that genre.

Dragonblood (Les Edwards, 2004)
Used without permission.
But his work spans a wider specter than the sole Horror genre, and extends to the fantasy and science fiction genres. As a matter of fact he has notably provided numerous illustrations for R.E. Howard's Conan (and other authors' novels about the most famous barbarian of all time), Terry Pratchett's Discworld, Anne McCaffrey's Pern cycle or the late Jack Vance's books.

Nurgle (Les Edwards, 1988)
Used without permission.
He also provided many covers for the fighting fantasy gamebook series created by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone (both co-founders of Games Workshop), as well as for numerous roleplaying games, notably Shadowrun, Earthdawn (one of which is the background of this blog), Mutant Chronicles or Warhammer (Game Workshop published an anthology of his works in 1987, titled « blood and Iron ».) Many of his paintings were re-used by Games Workshop as covers for White Dwarf, and other featured in the defunct « imagine » magazine, TSR’s short-lived british AD&D magazine.

I'll publish another article more focused on Edwards' style later this month. For now, if you want to know more about him, go there: Les Edwards' official site

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