When Britain’s premier publisher of classic science fiction needs artwork to equal the prose of a Philip K Dick or and Alfred Bester, there’s only one place to go. Chris Moore is recognised as a master of hi-tech, hi sheen science fiction illustration. At a 2004 book launch by Orion Publishing, 7 out of 9 paperbacks and 2 out of 3 hardback releases carried Chris Moore covers.
Although his book jacket work alone would more than equal the output of half a dozen lesser artists, he’s also worked in advertising, designed record sleeves and provided concept art for the likes of Stanley Kubrick and George Lucas. His tie-in wallpaper design for The Empire Strikes Back graced many a Star Wars fan’s bedroom. His work has even been launched into space, when he was commissioned by the Isle of Man Postal Service to incorporate his cover for Arthur C Clarke’s 2001 into a special First Day Cover, an example of which was signed in orbit by the crew of the NASA shuttle.
Chris Moore was born in Rotherham, South Yorkshire in 1947. He says that he’d always wanted to be a commercial artist, even before he knew what it actually meant. He was educated at Mexborough Grammar School after which he went to Doncaster Art School.
Between 1966 and 1969 he attended Maidstone College of Art on a Graphic Design course, and was then accepted by the Royal College of Art to study illustration between 1969 and 1972. Here Chris gained valuable experience with illustration commissions for his fellow students in the Graphic Design department. In 1972 He joined with Michael Morris, also an RCA graduate to form Moore Morris Ltd. They based themselves in Covent Garden throughout the early seventies and from day one worked on book, magazine and record covers. The Covent Garden design group lasted until 1980 when Moore married and moved out of Central London.
Though already an established illustrator, moving out of London and away from his major customers was a bold step. These had been heady days; recording artists for whom he’d provided album covers included Rod Stewart, Lindisfarne, Fleetwood Mac, Status Quo, Pentangle, Steeleye Span, Rick Wakeman and many more.
So far, Moore had had been working closely with art director Peter Bennett at Associated Book publishers, providing jacket art for almost every type of publication BUT science fiction. ‘In fact,’ says Moore’ I was barely aware of science fiction. I’d seen 2001, and that was about all.’ It was Bennett who suggested that Moore should try his hand at SF covers and in 1974 he began his long association with the genre.
But it wasn’t an exclusive association. As well as work on titles by Isaac Asimov, Larry Niven, Frederick Pohl, Anne McCaffrey, Clifford D Simak, Kurt Vonnegut, J G Ballard, Arthur C Clarke, Philip K Dick, and Samuel R Delaney, Moore was also the Artist of Choice for more mainstream writers like Arthur Hailey, Frederick Forsyth, Jackie Collins, Claire Francis, Stephen Leather, Leon Uris, Wilbur Smith, Craig Thomas, and Colin Forbes. He’s worked for such US publishers as Harper Collins, Daw, Random House, Tor Books, Bantam Books, Penguin, Dell, Warner Books, Avon, Berkeley, Ballantine, William Morrow, and Pocket Books. His work has featured in Omni Magazine, Analog, Science Fiction Age, and Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction. UK publishers include Transworld, Orion, Pan, Penguin, Harper Collins, Sphere, Hodders, Headline, ABP, Random House, Time Warner, Octopus, Hamlyn and many others.
In the early 80’s Moore joined Artist Partners, considered by many to be the best and most established Agency in the UK. Dom Rodi, the Managing Director at AP, had previously been the Art Director at Sphere Books. Moore and he had already worked on many projects together. Rodi and Moore formed a good team, working on cover concepts together and offering a complete service to the publishing industry. Together they would brainstorm on ideas until they arrived at something they thought would work for a particular book. (Dom Rodi today is retired and living in Florida)
Moore’s first trip to America in 1984 generated commissions from Dell and Vintage/Random House. By 1987 Moore had established a reputation with Judy Loser at Vintage/Random House and produced covers for more serious ‘literary’ fiction than the ususal mass market paperbacks. This offered Moore the opportunity to come up with concepts which had a more ’editorial’ feel to them yet still retain their attractiveness as covers. Titles included ‘Steps’ by Jerzy Kozinsky, ‘The Ultimate Good Luck’ by Richard Ford, ‘Andels’ by Denis Johnson, “The All-Girl Football Team’ by Lewis Norden and ’Ellen Foster’ by Kaye Gibbons,
In the late eighties, Chris Moore aquired an agent in the USA: Bernstien and Andriulli Inc. Through this agency Moore received a huge variety of work, including major advertising campaigns as well as the more familiar book cover and record sleeve deals. Moore’s first encounter with the film industry was in 1989, when his agent set up a meeting with Stanley Kubrick to dicuss a project based on Brian Aldiss’s ’Supertoys Last all Summer Long.’ Moore did a few sketches for production paintings, but he couldn’t get Kubrick to agree on a price for the job. Furthermore, Kubrick didn’t want to work through Moore’s agent- an uncomfortable situation, given that his agent had created the opportunity in the first place. Moore declined the job on principal. The job was eventually realised after Kubrick’s death as AI. directed by Steven Spielberg. In 1995, encouraged by his good friend Jim Burns, he attended a World Science Fiction Convention in Glasgow (Glasgow Worldcon) where he showed some original artwork for the first time. When Jand and Howard Frank from Worlds of Wonder on Washington, USA, purchased two of Moore’s paintings he realised that there was a market for his original artwork.
At the same convention, Moore met and became firm friends with fellow-artist Fred Gambino. Gambino was instrumental in persuading a reluctant Moore to incorporate computer technology into his work. So reluctant was he that it took him 5 years to purchase his first computer.
Chris Moore’s art has been featured in the magazine Rosebud 23, a magazine of fiction, poetry and art, and Fantasy Art of The New Millenium (1999, Harper Collins). He participated as a writerin Fred Gambino’s book, Ground Zero, contributing a chapter along with such other artists and authors as Jim Burns, Robers J Sawyer, David Brin, and Elisabeth Moon.
‘Journeyman: the Art of Chris Moore’, by Stephen Gallagher, is a profusely illustrated book that explores Moore’s life, art and technique. The book was published in 2000 by Paper Tiger. Nine years earlier, in 1981, Dragons Dream published ‘Parallel Lines’ a book that featured the art of Chris Moore and Peter Elson (Who passed away in 1999). This was followed by Martyn Dean’s ‘Dream Makers’, in 1988. The book was published by Papr Tiger and featured work by Melvyn Grant, Julek Heller, Michael Kaluta, Berni Wrightson, Charles Vess and Chris Moore.
Despite such a range of achievments, Moore has never sought to promote himself. Aside from a readers’ award for Best Cover Art from Asimov’s Magazine, his only public acknowledgement to date has come in the form of a Pink Pig Award in 1982, given by women in publishing for ‘Higher Tech’ a painting of a sensuous female robot! Moore says, ’All I’ve ever wanted over the years has been to gain the respect of my peers. They know what it tales to survive in this business. I’d like to think that I’ve not only gained their respect, but also their friendship.’
James Leonard-Amodeo, Fine Art Magazine