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Our Steve

by Bob Eggleton

It is my honor and pleasure to write a little something about Stephen Youll. We have a lot in common, oddly enough. We’re both artists. We’re good friends. And we’re both the next two AGoH’s at Worldcon 2000 and 2001, respectively. Boskone’s Official Artist (or Artist GoH) this year is Stephen Youll. Steve is one of three sets of identical twins, and at first glance to see Steve and brother Paul together you might think you are seeing double. Steve and Paul both went to art school together, worked as reconstruction artists at Durham Cathedral (a 1000-year-old cathedral!) and even got their start painting together in the field of SF and Fantasy. Then something happened: Steve feel deeply in love with and married one Jamie Warren (then and still art director of Bantam Spectra books) and made an adventuresome move to America. And once here, his art had already made such an impression on publishers that they were lining up to use him! One of his first jobs, after having set up a studio in NYC’s Greenwich Village, was to do the cover art for the Bantam reissues of Isaac Asimov’s classic Foundation, Empire and Robot series of books. What was really cool was the fact that Asimov himself had examined several artist’s portfolios, and selected Steve to be the artist to create the covers. And several of these books he had to finish in record time (five were due in one month!). He continued on to do covers for almost everyone in SF working for almost every SF publisher in the biz. Steve even was chosen by Lucasfilm to do the covers to the Star Wars/Bounty Hunters anthologies.

Steve is a consummate perfectionist. To create the right cover illustration, he’ll read the book (if there is a book written yet which I am sorry to say is less the case for more and more artists today) and talk ideas over with the art director and do several sketches. Then comes working often long hours with models, dressing them in all manner of garb to get the right feel and look. Then, he’ll use photos and lots of imagination, masonite and oil paint to do the final artwork. Often working into the wee bleary-eyed hours of the morning the day something is due. Like I said, he is a perfectionist. The results are often works of stunning clarity and arresting color.

Steve is also a huge fan of the genre of science fiction and fantasy. He likes books, especially all the Tolkien books, which he is known to have on tape and plays while working. He also likes movies. Often he and I yak on the phone while working, either praising, criticizing or denigrating the latest SF film to come out of Hollywood. (By the way, much to the chagrin of many, we both loved Armageddon.)

If you are wondering about Steve’s accent, it’s more than "British," he’s a Geordie, from the north part of England. Durham to be exact. Steve’s home is a town called Wheatley Hill, which I found on a map once, and it rather stunned him because he’d never seen it on many maps. It is a land of rolling hills and medieval charm and scenery.

But from there our Steve has come far. And here he is at Boskone, his first AGoH at any convention. His second invite—and this was a biggie—was to be the AGoH at The Millennium Philcon/ Worldcon 2001 (he already calls it "2001: A Steve Odyssey"). So we have a lot of Steve to look forward to. And look forward, we shall.