Berry, Rick

Tagged: Art

Working name of American artist Richard Berry (1953-    ), born Richard Riley, though Berry is now his legal name; he is sometimes credited as Richard or Rich, and he also uses the pseudonym Sam Rakeland. Berry tells biographers that he left home at the age of seventeen to work for underground comics, but there seems to be no information linking his name to specific titles. The self-trained Berry then developed an interest in the emerging field of digital art and eventually became the first artist to provide a computer-generated cover for a novel, Ace Books' 1985 republication of William Gibson's Neuromancer (1984). (Berry's cover image, of a man's mostly black face and hand with blue and red highlights, should not be confused with the first edition's "Ace Science Fiction Special" cover painted by James Warhola.) Berry went on to provide similar digital covers for the first paperback editions (in 1987) of Gibson's Count Zero (1986) and Burning Chrome (coll 1986), with distorted faces rendered respectively in shades of brown and gray and in shades of metallic blue.

While these works garnered the most attention, it should be noted that other early Berry covers, like those for Rudy Rucker's The Secret of Life (1985) and Steve Perry's Matadora (1986) and The Machiavelli Interface (1986), look like conventional paintings foregrounding realistic human figures. Indeed, not wishing to be stereotyped as a Cyberpunk artist, Berry in the late 1980s developed a pseudonym, Sam Rakeland, specifically for the purpose of garnering assignments in the burgeoning field of Fantasy; two typical Rakeland works were his covers for Steven Brust's The Phoenix Guards (1992) and its sequel Five Hundred Years After (1994), both showing handsome warriors standing in front of enormous birds. But the preferred technique Berry developed for such assignments involved digitally altered photographs, even though the results might resemble paintings. Despite steady work in fantasy during the 1990s, including some game-related art as by Rakeland, Berry also maintained his ties to Gibson and cyberpunk: he did the cover and some interior art for the December 1992 issue of Stephen P Brown's Science Fiction Eye and the cover for the Fall 1997 issue, designed the animated visit to cyberspace at the conclusion of Gibson's film Johnny Mnemonic (1995), and produced a digitally distorted hand to serve as the cover for a 1996 republication of John Shirley's City Come A-Walkin' (1980).

Berry has continued doing book covers in the twenty-first century, including some predictably disappointing covers for Star Trek and Star Wars novels, though he earned a Chesley Award for his cover for Judith Tarr's Queen of the Amazons (2004), showing an unusually posed woman in black lace holding a knife; among other efforts, he also produced several meritorious covers for paperback editions of novels by Storm Constantine. But the maturing Berry may be most interested in buttressing his increasing reputation in the realm of fine art, as his works have now been featured in several exhibitions. [GW]

Richard Berry [birth name Richard Riley]

born San Bernardino, California: 2 June 1953

died

works

  • Double Memory: Art and Collaborations with Phil Hale (West Kingston, Rhode Island: Donald M Grant, 1992) [graph: hb/Rick Berry and Phil Hale]
  • Rick Berry (San Diego, California: IDW Publishing, 2008) [graph: sixth in a series of "Sparrow" books featuring various artists: hb/Rick Berry]
  • Sparrow: Volume Two (San Diego, California: IDW Publishing, 2009) [graph: hb/Rick Berry]

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