Rostant, Larry

Tagged: Art

(?   -    ) British artist; little is known about his life except for what he has reported in interviews. Rostant earned a college degree in graphic design and initially worked in advertising before shifting to book covers; he is one of the new breed of artists who rely on Photoshop to create images that combine art and photography, providing the sharp, intense look that some have described as hyperrealism, though his early covers did not employ this approach. One of these, for Alex Stewart's anthology Eurotemps (anth 1992), showed the Eiffel Tower blasting into Earth orbit, and other covers for several republished books by J G Ballard similarly foregrounded objects instead of the portraiture he would later be noted for; perhaps the best of these, for a 1992 edition of Ballard's Low-Flying Aircraft and Other Stories (coll 1976), offered a pair of sunglasses reflecting a stylized aircraft. In his covers in the 1990s, Rostant would also at times emphasize close-up images of human faces, or simply pairs of eyes. Toward the end of the decade, Rostant began to receive prestigious assignments, including several British editions of books by Stephen King, which he usually provided with subdued landscapes dwarfed by the author's name, although his cover for the nonfictional On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (2000) interestingly featured a silhouette of King at the typewriter, observed through a misty window. He also became the cover artist for books in George R R Martin's best-selling Song of Ice and Fire books, providing each book with a central iconic object that regularly reappears on its later editions.

In recent years, there has continued to be some variety in the covers he paints, such as his stark, semi-abstract images for republications of books in Dan Simmons's Hyperion Cantos sequence; however, works like his cover for Mette Ivie Harrison's The Princess and the Hound (2007) – a vividly realistic portrait of a woman in a jewelled dress next to a black dog – exemplify the style he is now associated with. From an historical standpoint, it is striking that these sorts of Rostant covers – with representative examples including Judith Lindbergh's The Thrall's Tale (2007), Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough's Deluge (2008), Jessica Day George's Princess of the Midnight Ball (2009), and two covers that were nominated for David Gemmell Legend Awards, Kristin Cashore's Fire (2009) and Douglas Hulick's Among Thieves: A Tale of the Kin (2011) – usually involve no fantastic elements, unless one counts the style itself as fantastical, supporting the common notion that most contemporary readers of sf and Fantasy are interested in attractive characters more than original plots or imaginative ideas. Certainly, one must assume that Rostant's covers are remarkably effective in selling books, since by 2010 he was receiving assignments for dozens of covers in every year, and as covers by other artists following his approach are also become commonplace, one must regard Rostant as one of the most influential artists in today's publishing marketplace. [GW]

Larry Rostant

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