Artist Guest of Honor
Hi. My name is Kassandra Leigh Cherry. Your Writer Special Guest in 2020 is going to be my Aunt C. J. Cherryh, and your Artist Guest of Honor will be my Dad, David Cherry. Aunt C. J.’s partner, acclaimed author and artist, Jane Fancher, will also be with us. So this is going to be a family reunion for the Cherry/Cherryh/Fancher clan. It seems like everyone in the family is a well known author and/or artist, except me, but I am working on it. When Dad retired to
Norman, Oklahoma in 2013, I was just completing my Bachelor’s Degree there at the University of Oklahoma. He was close to campus and had an extra bedroom with a loft, so we moved in together. I am still living with Dad as I pursue my art and voice work. I have a profile at Castingcallclub.com and have been cast with several lead roles for various fan dubs and audio dramas. Some of my art will be on display in the art show. So, that’s me. Let me introduce you to my Dad.
David Alan Cherry is an artist, a really good one. Check out his website at www.davidcherryart.com. The actual story of how a guy who started out as an attorney ended up as President of the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists, a top freelance illustrator, marketing and concept artist for the Ensemble Studios RTS game, Age of Mythology, an artist and modeler on the Xbox 360
game, Halo Wars, and head of the art department at a graduate college under Southern Methodist University is long and kind of complicated. So I am just going to hit some of the high points.
Two things Aunt C. J. did had a huge impact on Dad’s ultimate decision to drop his legal practice in favor of a life of art and illustration. One: She introduced him to the man who was doing the cover art for her own novels, Michael Whelan. It was through meeting Michael that Dad discovered an important point that he had overlooked. He, for some silly reason, had always assumed that illustrators were employees of the various publishers and had to ride a crowded train into Manhattan every day to go to work in a dark office next to a boiler room in the basement. He also assumed that the publishers would end up owning the original art itself plus the copyrights to it. Far from that, Michael showed David that he had a fair degree of autonomy in his working life, that he was, indeed, a freelancer, and that he kept ownership of his original art as well as those parts of his copyright not leased to the publishers. That was a game changer for Dad and really got him to thinking about how nice it would be to do that rather than get up every day to argue with people who were paid to disagree with him.
Two: Aunt C. J. talked Dad into submitting sketches to Donald Grant (Donald Grant Publications) to apply to do cover and interior illustrations for a C. J. Cherryh novella, “Ealdwood”. Dad was a full time attorney at the time, but Aunt C. J. knew how much he wanted to chuck all that and go into art, so she set this up to politely push Dad in that direction. Dad did it and loved it so much that two years later he closed the law firm and devoted himself to learning how to paint properly. That was in 1982.
In 1983 Dad joined ASFA, the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists. He served two years as
President and two years as Vice President of ASFA.
Dad says by 1984 his work was starting to come together. By 1987 he won two Chesley Awards. One for his illustration and one for his fine art. But both were in color. He had become a painter. From there it was onward and upward. He would receive 16 more Chesley nominations over the years and win 6 of them. He was nominated 10 times for the Best Professional Artist Hugo but always fell short on that one. It got to be a joke. He acquired the nickname of “the Susan Lucci of the Hugo Awards”. He would have loved to win, but if Michael Whelan was winning, Dad had no complaints. When he was up against Michael he always voted for Michael because he firmly believed Michael, more than anyone else, embodied what it meant to be the best and most professional artist possible.
Also in 1987, The Donning Company Publishers brought out a book of 40 of Dad’s paintings plus a treatise on his painting technique. It was called Imagination: The Art and Technique of David A Cherry. That book was nominated in 1988 for the Hugo Award for Best Non-Fiction Book of 1987.
1n 1995 Friedlander Publishing Group published a 50 card set of trading cards entitled David Cherry Fantasy Art Trading Cards.
In 2000, William Fawcett, of William Fawcett and Associates, honored Dad with an offer to do the art for an illustrated specialty book, The World of Shannara, to be written by Teresa Patterson in collaboration with Terry Brooks. Dad was happily in the middle of production on that project when Ensemble Studios, a Dallas based computer game company, made him an offer he really did not want to refuse. They offered to hire him as Senior Concept Artist on an upcoming game to be called Age of Mythology. It was a chance to delve deeply into the art of the gods and goddesses of the Greeks, the Norse, Rome, and Egypt. He says he didn’t have to think it over for very long. He checked to see what they were offering as salary. They told him, and he said. “So, can I start in the morning?” You can see some of his art from that project in the Gallery section of DavidCherryart.com. My favorite is his portrait of Poseidon which was
over our fireplace for most of my youth. Dad’s story goes on from there with many more accomplishments, but I will leave it to you to visit with him and get him to tell you all about it. He is very nice and very approachable.
Artwork Pictured: Sir Hector and Friend, The Bladeswoman, Simple Pleasures
Photo courtesy of Kassandra Cherry © 2019
Photo credit Tara Gray