Since 1980, Michael Whelan has been one of the world's premier fantasy and science fiction artists. He is currently working full time on his fine art paintings, but in the past three decades he has created more than 350 book and album covers for authors and artists like Isaac Asimov, Anne McCaffrey, Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, the Jacksons, Sepultura, and MeatLoaf. His clients have included every major U.S. book publisher in addition to such diverse companies as National Geographic, Roadrunner Records, and The Franklin Mint. This year he had his fourth gallery show of new personal works and he was the American Artist Guest of Honor for Nippon 2007, the first World Science Fiction Convention in Japan.

A graduate of San Jose State University with a BA in Painting and a President's Scholar, Michael Whelan went on to attend the prestigious Art Center College of Design also in California, but he dropped out to accept his first book cover assignment. The most honored artist in his field, Whelan has won an unprecedented 15 Hugo Awards (Science Fiction's Oscar), 3 World Fantasy Awards, and the SuperHugo as the Best Artist of the last 50 years. The readers of LOCUS magazine (for SF insiders) have named him Best Professional Artist 26 times in their annual poll. In addition to countless Best of Show and Best Artist Awards from SF and Fantasy conventions and regional art shows, Michael was named a Grand Master by the Spectrum Annual of the Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art. His other awards include a Gold Medal from the Society of Illustrators, a Vargas Award, and a Grumbacher Gold Medal.

Michael has had 4 art books published as well as numerous limited edition prints, posters, calendars, and licensed products such as greeting cards, t-shirts and sculptures. He is a member of the Graphic Artists Guild and the Society of Illustrators in New York City, and he is an Advisor to the Masters in Fine Arts program at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, Connecticut. In 2003 he became a member of the inaugural Advisory Board of the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame in Seattle, Washington.

The stunning color and composition of Michael Whelan's illustrations and his dedication to bringing an author's words to life have brought him fans throughout the world. Now that he is devoting all his time to his own visions, he has found many new collectors in the fine art world. His "gallery" paintings of his personal work are still infused with his signature "sense of wonder," but they are rich in symbolism and offer many layers of meaning to be explored. We heartily recommend a visit to Michael's website!

Art for US paperback and hardcover editions of Dragonflight. Michael Whelan's much accaimed art for the first volume in the Dragonriders of Pern trilogy. This art must be picturing Lessa on golden Ramoth with the manecing Red Star in the background. A breathtaking piece of art.
Michael says about this: "For the first book in Anne McCaffrey's Pern series I soght to create a literal visualization of the title. The first step was selecting an aerial point-of-view; tilting the horizon helped to simulate the dizzying sensation of flight on a dragon's back." Anne wrote about it: "I was relieved to see Lessa, for once, appropriately clad for dragonriding. Equally appropriate is the mood, Lessa leading the dragons of the Weyr, all gold above a shadowy green world."

Original medium: 20"x 30", acryllics on masonite.
© Copyright Michael Whelan, all rights reserved.


Art for US paperback and hardcover editions of Dragonquest. Undoubtedly one of the best pieces with dragons actually fighting thread ever made. Michael says about this piece: "Chief menace to Pern is Thread, a corrosive and devastating life form which migrates from the Red Star (seen in the sky of each of the first three covers) to fall on Pern at regular intervals. (...) The excitement of Thread of the Tread-foghting episodes was an irresistible subject for my second painting in this series. Unfortunately I seemed to have made a goof. McCaffrey vusualized the Thread as falling like straight strands of spaghetti, wheras my concept of it was squirming ribbinlike things descending in clumps and tangles."

Original medium: 20"x 30", acryllics on masonite.
© Copyright Michael Whelan, all rights reserved.


Art for US paperback and hardcover editions of The White Dragon. The cover art that, according to Anne and many of her fans, lured many to the shelves of the bookshop to buy and was helping sales so hugely that it became the first female written SF novel to end up on the New York Times bestseller list. A personal favourite of many. Michael says: "Although this is the third book in the series, this was my first Pern cover, and I was determined to create the dragons as faithfully to Anne McCaffrey's description as possible. I studied crocodiles and bat wings, and wrote to Anne with many questios. After all that, it was somewhat of a let-down to have Judy-Lynn del Rey tell me that based on their descriptions, it would be physically impossible for the dragons to fly: it's bevause they 'think'they can that they do."

Original medium: 20"x 30", acryllics on masonite.
© Copyright Michael Whelan, all rights reserved.

To order prints of this artwork click here.


Art for US paperback and hardcover editions of Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern. Michael had a hard tie doing this particular cover: "For the six weeks prior to doing this cover, my hand had been in a cast. Although I had the cast molded with a brush in my hand so that I could still paint, my hand movements were greatly restricted. I did two pantings with the cast on, but both involved painstaking detail; with my restricted movements, the experiences were very tense. When the cast came off, my tremendous sense of freedom prompted me to use sweeping motions and bright colors. This scene was not my first choice (showed below as unused art, ed.), but I enjoyed oainting the surging energy of the dragon's leap in a larger-than-usual format."

Original medium: 44"x 32", acryllics on masonite.
© Copyright Michael Whelan, all rights reserved.


Possibly to be added in the near future.
The story of a book cover: Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern.

© Copyright Michael Whelan, all rights reserved.


Unused art, made for Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern. One of the original pieces made for Moreta but not used.
Moreta scarcely clad in black leather, reclining on a rock under Orlith's (or Holth's?) head? While Michael Whelan's can paint a sexy lady masterfully his Pern art isn't known for it and personally I'm glad this didn't make it as the cover for the book *smile*.

© Copyright Michael Whelan, all rights reserved.


Art for US paperback and hardcover editions of Dragonsdawn. After skipping Michael for the next volume in the series (Nerilka's Story), or maybe he just wasn't availaible, he was back in line for the next Pern book. For me, the art Michael Whelan did for this Pern book beathes the exact mood. It undobtedly depicts Sorka Hanrahan, the first Weyrwoman of Pern. Somehow the firelizards, the coast and wood behind it and the colours used are very apt for the colonists, for a time of beginning, the dragon's dawn. Sorka's coverall adds to the feeling that we, more than before, will be dealing with a science fiction book.

© Copyright Michael Whelan, all rights reserved.


Alternative art or preliminary work for the US edition of Dragonsdawn. In some respects this art is even better than the art that was used for the book on Pern's early history. Probably because in this version we also see Sorka's lifemate and first Weyrleader of Pern, Sean Connel.

© Copyright Michael Whelan, all rights reserved.


Art for US paperback and hardcover editions of The Renegades of Pern. Few Pern covers will display such an attention for detail as this one. Although I remember Anne saying that the skybroom trees, the trader wagons and the dray beasts were nothing like she had envisioned she liked them a lot, especially the towering skybroom trees. I love the wagins, with their old European gypsy and Irish tinker feeling but even with that old look being outlandish enough to be pulled by dray beasts that are clearly not of our world. I hope the man walking in front looks like Johnny Greene. The only thing I have against this piece are the rather static dragons who look like they are cut-and-pasted from one original.

© Copyright Michael Whelan, all rights reserved.


Anne liked Michael Whelan's artwork for The Renegades of Pern so much she purchased the original. Framed in a simple gold frame it graces the dining room of her house Dragonhold-Underhill in county Wicklow, Ireland.

Art for US paperback and hardcover editions of All the Weyrs of Pern. Another stunning piece of Pern art and, after the White Dragon art the most sold and popular with fans. Maybe it has something to do with Ruth and Jaxom, who by-the-way has a nice little cushion to help sit on confortably on his friends back *smile* This art has a kind of dreamy feeling because of the trees above the clouds I suppose. Still it is a magnificent piece and deservedly one of the two still available as prints in Michael Whelan's webshop.

© Copyright Michael Whelan, all rights reserved.

To order prints of this artwork click here

I like both available prints tremendously so it won't surprise you that they also grace the Pern Art Stairwell in my real life home, too (see below).



In Anne's collection of short stories titled The Girl Who Heard Dragons, named after the long Pern short story it contains, a number of Michael Whelan's sketches were printed, some of which definitely are depicting Pernese scenes or breating a Pernese mood. Some of these sketches or studies are pictured below.

This looks like Ruth and might be a study or prelim for the book All the Weyrs of Pern.

© Copyright Michael Whelan, all rights reserved.


This one must clearly be Ruth on the bridge of the Yokohama and might be a prelim or study for the cover of All the Weyrs of Pern.

© Copyright Michael Whelan, all rights reserved.


This is the art for the cover of the short story collection The Girl Who Heard Dragons, this is not a Ballantines/Del Rey book so Michael was either commissioned by TOR, the pubsher of the anthology, or they might have chosen from artwork he had already done.

© Copyright Michael Whelan, all rights reserved.


A female rider of a gold or green dragon, the first sketch appearing in The Girl Who Heard Dragons, on the flip side of the half title page.

© Copyright Michael Whelan, all rights reserved.


This sketch might have served as a study for Dragonsdawn as the girl in the sketch appears to wear the same kind of coverall while urging a firelizard to land on her arm which is protected with the same kind of leather armguard that Sorka wears on the actual cover.

© Copyright Michael Whelan, all rights reserved.


This must have been a study or prelim for the book it appears in: The Girl Who Heard Dragons. The Aramina in this sketch is wearing the same kind dress as she appears in on the actual cover art and is more or less striking the same pose. This sketch pleads for the case that the art was chosen from exisiting work by TOR because ths piece is clearly dated 1990 while the TOR hardcover was published in 1994.

© Copyright Michael Whelan, all rights reserved.


Another study like the previous one, also dated 1990, resembling the actual The Girl Who Heard Dragons cover even more.

© Copyright Michael Whelan, all rights reserved.


This one is clearly much older and a study for the Moreta : Dragonlady of Pern cover. A later, unused, colour version (which is very alike but reversed) is pictured here, too.

© Copyright Michael Whelan, all rights reserved.


Copyright

Original cover art is shown here with no intention to violate the copyright, or any other right, of the original artist and in recompense we try to promote the artist and link back to his or her webpages and webshops if possible. Should anyone whose work is depicted on these Pern Museum Pages have any objection to seeing his works of art promoted here, a simple email will suffice to make your wishes known and we will act accordingly.