Botten, Bill

Tagged: Art

(?   -    ) British artist. Originally a graphic designer, Botten then worked as an art director for Sphere Books before moving to Jonathan Cape, where he worked during the 1970s and early 1980s. Mostly for that company, he painted a series of sf book covers that tended to be brightly coloured and highly imaginative, and were sometimes infused with surrealistic humour. Noteworthy instances of his approach include his cover for John T Sladek's The Müller-Fokker Effect (1970), wherein a man's nose has a human face and legs emerging from its nostrils; his cover for J G Ballard's Low-Flying Aircraft (coll 1976), depicting two mildly anthropomorphic cars that seem to be observing three antique airplanes; and his cover for Ballard's The Unlimited Dream Company (1979), a bizarre portrait of a family on the grounds of a country estate featuring a vulture on the children's swing set and an undressed handyman painting a bench. A more ethereal mood is conveyed by his cover for Ballard's Myths of the Near Future (coll 1982), showing a blonde woman sitting on a shore amidst exotic plants and animals, while his cover for Christopher Wood's James Bond, the Spy Who Loved Me (1977) is a beautiful rendering of a reclining woman staring at a man's watch on a nightstand next to a vase and an aquarium. Another intriguing effort, for Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children (1980), offers a landscape of half-buried clocks with human faces.

Botten stopped working for Jonathan Cape in the 1980s to focus on freelance projects, though he has more recently expressed an interest in again working on book covers, a move that many admirers would welcome. [GW]

Bill Botten




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