Larry Rostant: Domestic Bliss for an Atomic Age

By Mark Watkins, for Graphis, September 27, 2013.

Digital artist Larry Rostant‘s photo Domestic Goddess is a cheery, mutated vision of 1950s femininity. It’s great in so many ways: concept, lighting, execution. The bounce light and shadows from arm to arm sell it.

Rostant is as much a digital illustrator as a digital photographer, a go-to guy for photo-based fantasy, crime and historical fiction cover art. He does romance novel covers, he does naval history book covers, and he hit the career jackpot doing a 2003 revamp of the Game of Thrones covers before GoT had become a thing beyond its initial fandom. His Art Directors hail from HarperCollins, Voyager, Angry Robot, and Orbit. His process is entirely 21st century:

I build an image out of lots and lots of bits of different photographs. In any cover, there could be up to 50 different images put together. For instance, if it was a picture of someone running down a hill, I’d use different bits of hair, different bits of arms and different bits of fingers all put together to create the quintessential perfect representation of someone running down a hill. ~ An Interview with Larry Rostant, Mike Shackle, Fantasy Faction.

To pull this off seamlessly — blending dramatic light, shadow, skin color, artifacts, environmental color, digits — is a craft requiring a strong sense of anatomy and an intense preciseness. Over the years he’s acquired a large client base that implicitly trusts him to deliver technical excellence. Do a Google image search. There are a lot of covers.

Previous work submitted to Graphis includes Summer and these cool shots…





Check out more work by Larry Rostant here.


Jonathan Knowles’ Interstellar Soup

Article by Mark Watkins for Graphis, August 21, 2013.


Jonathan Knowles has created miniature studio imaginings of epic interstellar collisions that rely as much on a vast technical expertise as on virtuoso color arrangements. Knowles is known for his high-speed photographic captures of liquid in flight, and these cosmic variations in controlled chaos share a lineage with the experimental combinations of smoke, paint, chemicals, and fluorescent dyes that visual effects artists like Douglas Trumbull use to visualize the cryptic, galactic sequences in films like 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Tree of Life. Knowles has described the series as a personal project “exploring the dawn of time and birth of a solar system”.


Other related 2013 high-speed camera work by Knowles were his Ink Series and Broken Britain for Wieden and Kennedy and The Guardian. Knowles submitted Flaviana Gold and Sophie H to past Graphis competitions, both which earned him a Gold, as well as Red Dress, Batman, Captain America, Flaviana Bronze, Exhaustion, and Sandstorm. He’s a prolific investigator of visual communication.


Photographer: Jonathan Knowles
Client: 125 Magazine
Country: United Kingdom

Kevin Twomey Uncovers Obsolete Models of 1984 ½

Article by Mark Watkins for Graphis, August 15, 2013.


O Brasil, do meu amor
Terra de Nosso Senhor…

Kevin Twomey reveals intense robotic constructions running dead tools of an atomic age in his photo series Calculating Machines. His skillful color retouching drowns industrial materials in apocalyptic lime greenness, like cyborgs of an alternate Cyberdyne timeline or cold war Buttles and Tuttles dreaming of a tropical paradise. Calculating Machines won him a Gold award in Graphis Photography Annual 2013. He wrote this about the piece:

Assignment: The calculating machines came from a personal project that was originally about visually documenting the various tools humans used in calculating throughout history, starting with the abacus. As the research progressed I came upon calculating machines of the mid 20th century. Once I had removed the cover on one of these machines, I knew exactly what the story was about: creating imagery that captured the complex internal workings of these objects, bringing out the details of all the various materials while keeping any dust, dirt, and grime that had build up since the devices were last used.

Approach: The lighting and retouching approaches, as well at the choice of camera angle, were all used to help bring out the materials and detail in the machinery. After the covers were removed, I did a quick shoot around to find the best possible angles.

Results: This personal project was selected for the PDN 2012 Annual, and at this moment images form this series are being considered for a financial magazine article in Germany.





View more of Kevin Twomey’s work here.

Caroline Knopf and The Whaling Widow

By Mark Watkins, for Graphis, August 12, 2013.

While the alien beauty starring in photographer Caroline Knopf’s maritime horror study The Whaling Widow could be mourning the loss at sea of an Ahab or a Quint, one suspects she’s simply wandered into an empty Andrew Wyeth-style coastal cottage a la Goldilocks, forlorn that there’s only uncooked fish for dinner, searching for an Ambien to get some shuteye.


The Whaling Widow was produced for Four Magazine, a quarterly publication of “beautiful homes, iconic fashion, artistic expression, and diverse culture that dwells within and around the city”. Knopf has also submitted it to the upcoming Graphis Photography Annual 2014 competition.

Knopf’s intense color control, fascinating angular poses, and focused narrative hooks are always supported with a classical compositional approach. These techniques won her gold awards for The Girl Who Fell To Earth, Evening Portrait of Liu, and 29 Palms in the Graphis Photography Annual 2013. She also entered Amber Waves that year, and The Crash in the Graphis Photography Annual 2012.

View more work by this fascinating artist here.

Photographer: Caroline Knopf
Client: Four Magazine
Category: Beauty & Fashion
Art Director: Suzy Weber
Advisor: Mark Stetler