Francis Vallejo Wins Prestigious Spectrum Gold Award

CCS Assistant Professor of Illustration Francis Vallejo has won the Spectrum Gold Award in the book category for illustrations he created for Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys (Folio Society, 2018). The highest honor in the field for science fiction and fantasy art, “Spectrum: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Arts” annually presents gold and silver awards for exemplary illustration work from the previous year in each of eight categories: advertising, book, comics, concept art, dimensional, editorial, institutional, and unpublished. Vallejo received the award at a ceremony on March 30 in Kansas City, Missouri.

Vallejo’s illustrations for Anansi Boys also will be displayed in the “Editorial and Book Exhibit” of the Society of Illustrators Annual Exhibition, the premiere showcase for illustrators and animators at the Museum of Illustration in New York, and will be featured in the 2019 Communication Arts Illustration Annual 60.

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman was originally published in 2005 and debuted at number one on the New York Times Bestseller List. Vallejo’s illustrations for the 376-page Folio Society collector’s edition — which the publisher calls “one of its most joyous creations” — include the book’s cover, a frontispiece and five color illustrations, 25 black-and-white integrated illustrations, chapter-opening spreads, page edges adorned with green spiderwebs on a black background, and a tactile, pictorial slipcase.

Calling the book “a treasure,”Kirkus Reviews spoke with Vallejo about his process for the edition. “I originally had 94 passages selected that I considered worthy of exploration,” Vallejo told the publication. “Gaiman is a favorite among artists because of his lush and vivid scenes so it was a wonderful problem to have so much to work with. I doubled the number of illustrations from the original commission as I was so inspired by the story.”

Discussing his painstaking technique, Vallejo continued: “The ink images were nib on paper with digital tone. The color images were rather experimental, but combined acrylic, ink, pastel, and oil stick finished digitally. In depth photographic reference was shot for each scene using incredible models that really put themselves into the characters. For the interior bedroom scene, a 3D model of the room was created to assist in creating a reference for how the lighting would look.”

Vallejo was also featured in CCS’s Watch Me Work faculty series.