“DUNE.” At the time I was an avid Star Wars fan and we were talking about how I wanted more of that. Knowing how I had trouble reading at the time because I was easily bored with anything that resembled schoolwork, she still suggested that I tried reading Frank Herbert’s original novel. Little did she know at the time that it would change my life since it opened my eyes to a whole new universe and ways of seeing life. After a couple of years of picking it up, reading a couple of chapters, then putting it on hold for a little while longer, I finished the book in earnest when my brother gave me a copy that coincided with the release of the 1984 motion picture directed by David Lynch.
I somehow got my hands on the 1978 calendar with art with conceptual paintings by John Schoenherr which led me to find more of his work that was published in periodicals like Analog and Omni magazine. That conceptual ‘space art’ inspired me to look into other artists like Roger Dean who created the amazing cover art for music albums. Those SF periodicals caused me to follow other artists like Andrew Probert (There are kids who's parents worked in mechanical - drafting pencil factory who were able to go to summer camp because of my obsession with line quality thanks to Mr. Probert) which led me to trying to mimic their styles.
The LP of the Original DUNE soundtrack led my search for similar music like that of Brian Eno who’s song “ Prophecy Theme” was included in that album. I dabbled in New Age and what some called Industrial ambient music which then lead me to one of my favorite musical artist or bands of all time; “Tangerine Dream.” – Much of that music I still play when I’m trying to create work that’s outside “the box.”
So why is Frank Herbert important to graphic designers or modern artists in general? Why should we take a moment to remember his work via this blog post? For all the reasons I’ve covered already and more.
Artists and graphic designers need to spend time outside of work exploring other ideas and other realms. We need to explore and even dabble in Science Fiction and Fantasy from time to time because, let’s be honest, what we’re doing is creating design of the future. Not the far off distant future but the immediate future and we have to never be afraid of embracing that idea.
Because I tried to take what I pictured in my imagination from what I was reading and translate that onto the paper of canvas I was able to practice and hone my craft. Years of practicing trying to create (or recreate) SF art taught me how to handle mediums like oil paint, airbrushing, and eventually the Adobe Creative Suite. I am the artist I am today of a journey that began with the words “A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct.”
Frank Herbert died 28 years ago this week and it’s a privilege to take the time and look back on his legacy. His son Brian and fellow author Kevin Anderson have picked up where he left off with the DUNE saga and I can’t help but wonder who else were inspired by his work and what we enjoy today thanks to his motivating vision.