Chris Foss is probably best known for the fleet of vast, intricately detailed and distinctly travel-worn spaceships he unleashed upon an unsuspecting science fiction world in the early 1970s. Almost overnight the face of space hardware as it appeared on book covers and in films was transformed as other illustrators and conceptual designers borrowed or simply stole his original concept.
Books featuring Foss illustrations include the 1970s British paperback covers for Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy, several of Edmund Cooper novels, and E. E. (Doc) Smith’s Lensman and Skylark series. Some of the art he did produce was specific to the stories, and some examples of this are the covers he did for the Grafton publications of the Demon Princes novels by Jack Vance in the late 1980s, Star King, The Killing Machine, The Place of Love, The Face and The Book of Dreams.
He was born in 1946 and spent his formative years both in Devon and Guernsey. Encouraged by an Art Master at school, he began sketching the railways around Devon that he travelled on and also, strongly influenced by Graham Sutherland, landscapes. This led to an abiding passion – machines in landscapes.
Later encouraged by the same teacher, he won a scholarship to a public school in Dorset. He escaped as often as possible to sketch the semi-derelict shipyards and harbour at nearby Poole. While visiting family on Guernsey, where he spent some time as a child, he also became fascinated by the remains of the German occupation during World War II – the crumbling concrete bastions which briefly transformed the island into a sea fortress.
After spending some time at Cambridge University, he found work as an architectural draughtsman and designer. 1968, however, saw his inevitable move towards life as a freelance artist. His childhood passion for railways is now only surpassed by a passion for art, especially the depiction of machines in landscapes.
Chris is almost certainly the most admired illustrator working in the science-fiction field, and since the 1970s his work has continuously been in demand by publishers and filmmakers the world over. He has worked on major movies including “Superman”, “Flash Gordon”, “Alien” as well as “Guardians of the Galaxy”. His versatility extends to illustrating the two highly successful books the “Joy of Sex” and “More Joy of Sex.”
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