Working name of American artist Matthew Stawicki (1969- ), though he is occasionally credited with his full name. After graduating from the Pennsylvania School of Art and Design in 1991, Stawicki embarked upon a career in genre art with a 1993 cover for Brad Linaweaver's Moon of Ice (March 1982 Amazing; exp 1988), an image of the Earth and Moon separated by a red bar with a swastika, that bore no resemblance to the sort of art he would later specialize in – portraits of attractive young men and women in idealized Fantasy settings. With such skills, Stawicki was well suited to meet the expectations of mass-market publishers, leading to steady employment painting book covers during the first two decades of his career; like other artists of his day, he has also produced artwork for gaming, advertising, and collectible items.
Surveying the 200 or so book covers that Stawicki has so far produced, one finds little to criticize, but little to praise; they are all well-executed, professional works, but nothing that seems suitable for framing. Two of his covers did receive Chesley Award nominations – a sombre image of a winged man and his companion in front of a setting sun for Carol Berg's Restoration (2002), and a loinclothed man reclining on a slanted boulder for Barbara Campbell's Heartwood (2005) – but one wonders why these were singled out for recognition, when they are no better or worse than dozens of other Stawicki covers. Only occasionally does a cover seem unusually impressive: for a 1995 edition of Jules Verne's Vingt mille lieues sous les mers (20 March 1869-20 March 1870 Magasin d'Éducation et de Récréation; 1870 2vols; trans Lewis Mercier as Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas 1872), Stawicki painted a subdued scene of deep-sea divers examining a treasure chest with a murky sea Monster in the background; and for C J Cherryh's Fortress of Dragons (2000), he offered an arresting image of a sword-wielding warrior climbing the stairs of a flaming building fronted by statues of dragons. Such art provides hints that Stawicki, who is still relatively young, might someday surprise his detractors with works they will wish to praise. [GW]
born Delaware: 30 March 1969
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