The famous Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California has dominated the American science fiction and fantasy illustration world for decades. It has produced the illustrators for almost all the "blockbuster" movies of the last decades (including AVATAR) as well as many of the most popular video games. The Art Center also has influenced avant-garde vehicle and product design.
I have always loved the brilliant, exciting, high-powered Art Center look. I wanted to paint in that style and I still do. The style seems easy to imitate: highly angled, even "forced" perspective, complex details, dramatic lighting. This piece, "Megastructure Melee," is perhaps the closest I came to it, and it's not very close. It's a mixture of airbrush and hand brush work, done in the hope that someone might pick it as a book or game illustration. I exhibited it at the 1988 World Science Fiction Convention in New Orleans. It was bought by some collector and has vanished into nothingness, except for this image of it, retrieved from my dusty slide archive. (Click for slightly bigger version.)
I would have liked to go to the Art Center College of Design, but it was 3000 miles away and very expensive. I would still like to go. But I don't know whether I had (or have) the talent or energy needed to study there. Fantasy art is a young man's game, kind of like professional sports, and you don't start over again when you're in your late 50s. The jobs are also high-risk, low-benefit, exhausting work that expect 24-hour or even longer endurance runs. So I took the more secure route among the organic tomatoes at Trader Joe's, and I reminisce about the time I was a professional fantasy and science fiction artist, and look enviously at the spectacular work (now all digital) of the Art Center College alumni.
"Megastructure Melee," acrylic on illustration board, 18" x 24", August 1988.