Astrona is an online collection of artists resources and developers who specialize in space and astronomical art, science fiction art, visions of future worlds, design and visualization of technologies for living in space, space exploration, spaceships, starships, space colonies, etc. Take a journey through amazing images!
Saturday, June 30, 2007

John Berkey is an artist who is famous for his space and sci-fi-themed works. Berkey has worked as a freelance artist since the 1960s, after an eight-year stint at a St. Paul, Minnesota advertising agency. He created some of the early artwork for the original “Star Wars” trilogy.

John Berkey was born in North Dakota in 1932 and grew up in South Dakota and Montana before settling in Minnesota. After attending the Minneapolis School of Art and taking various studio jobs, he became a staff artist at the Brown & Bigelow advertising firm for eight years. During that time, Berkey produced more than 500 calendar images, featuring everything from pastoral scenes to historic tableaus, before turning to freelance illustration in 1963.

Berkey is perhaps best known for his science fiction illustrations. Starting in the nineteen sixties, John was commissioned to do illustrations of the astronauts involved with NASA and the space program as part of their efforts to go beyond the earths atmosphere and eventually to the moon. In 1972, he caught the attention of science fiction fans the world over with a series of dazzling paintings for Ballantine Books' Star series. Among those attracted to his science-fiction illustrations was the young George Lucas, who commissioned him to work on the pre-production designs for “Star Wars”.

Renowned for his robust and impressionistic style, he has created paintings for book covers, movie posters, advertisements and publications such as National Geographic, Life, Time, Sports Afield, the Eddie Bauer Catalog and TV Guide. His images appear on 16 US stamps and he was the illustrator of the “elder Elvis” in the Elvis Presley stamp competition of the early 1990s.

In 2004, Berkey was named to the 104-year-old Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame, which includes Norman Rockwell, N. C. Wyeth, Frederick Remington and John James Audubon. He has been nominated by the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists for the Chesley Award for Artistic Achievement and has been a guest of honor at a number of science fiction conventions. He resides in Excelsior, Minnesota.

Art Books:

The Art of John Berkey

John Berkey Painted Space


Note: All artwork and images copyright © John Berkey. Please do not use images without the permission.

Gallery I: John Berkey Space Art

Gallery II: John Berkey Online Gallery at ArtOrg

The Art of John Berkey by Jane Frank

To order this book from click here.

The Art of John Berkey

Book Description: Jane Frank examines all aspects of Berkey's work, with more than 100 color illustrations drawn from all periods of his career-including personal illustrations painted for his own artistic satisfaction. Berkey himself contributes an autobiographical introduction. His wonderfully facile style is the perfect balance between painterly impressionism and hard-edged realism.

Booklist: His art is no less realistic than most sf illustrators work, but John Berkey, one of the most admired sf artists, differs markedly from most of the artists on view in Grant and Humphrey's Chesley Awards for Science Fiction and Fantasy Art. For he is, as Frank lucidly contends in her appreciative text, a forthright impressionist. Light is his primary concern; asked by young artists how he starts a painting, he tells them, “With the light--that is, the light sources within the picture.” He lets brushwork show chiefly for its suggestion of movement but also because he knows that the eye makes sense out of daubs of pigment, and he wants his paintings to engage viewers' imaginations. Hence, he renders one brilliantly convincing spaceship after another, which in their details, however, resemble nothing that yet exists. They are extrapolations from the human, animal, and machine shapes he limns so well in his pre-sf and contemporary non-sf art, examples of which also distinguish this dazzling album.

John Berkey Painted Space by John Berkey

To order this book from click here.

John Berkey Painted Space

Book Description: Finally, a collection of the work of award winning artist John Berkey! From King Kong to Star Wars, John Berkey's incredible paintings have captured the imaginations of millions. His ability to paint that which cannot be photographed and the amazing detail with which each painting is executed welcomes us into the images he creates.