The Beautiful Universe Created by Charles Wess

Not every artist can illustrate books. Such a job requires creativity, great skills and incredible self-discipline at the same time. Charles Wess has all these qualities.

Wess works wonders in the world of wonders: he specializes in illustrating of myths and fairy tales.

Interesting Facts About Wess

Charles Wess was born in 1951. He liked drawing since childhood. His first published pictures were in the genre of comics – they appeared in a tabloid, The Fan Free Funnies. 

In 1976, the artist started working as a freelance illustrator. Wess made comics, they were in demand. He also painted covers for a number of mainstream fantasy novels. And soon, according to the biography from Wess’s official website, ‘his artwork has moved more into book illustration’.

In 1990, the artist’s first wide-known collaboration has started: he began illustrating books by Nail Gaiman. Wess, in particular, painted for famous Stardust.

A bit later, he collaborated with Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow, who edited a series of anthologies:

  • The Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest;
  • The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm;
  • The Coyote Road: Trickster Tales.

Charles Wessworked with Charles de Lint, the author of A Circle of Cats, too.

But his best artworks – in my opinion – were created for The Books of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin.

Graceful Dragons and Brave Sorcerers

The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition (2018) celebrated the 50th anniversary of the publication A Wizard of Earthsea – the novel which was the first one in the series.

Charles Wess made 54 illustrations for this luxury edition.

While mirroring Le Guin’s world, Wess successfully depicted not only peaceful nature (old tree, sea) but also hot scenes of battles. It seems that his characters are moving…

What I like most are his graceful dragons. I think, if dragons existed, they would look just as Charles Wess has imagined them.

The illustrations from the book were exhibited and then donated to their permanent home at the University of Oregon.

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Natalia Usanova
I am a poet and an amateur artist. A few years ago, it seemed to me creating works of art is a much more important occupation than reading books, visiting galleries, or listening to music. Now I don't think so. Let me share with you the masterpieces which have changed my life and can change yours. Follow me on Twitter!

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