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Jim Burns

Jim Burns

  Jim Burns was born in Cardiff, South Wales in 1948. He developed a passion for drawing - in particular for creating strange, imaginary scenes, weird lifeforms and futuristic machinery whilst still at primary school - a passion which has never left him.

In terms of a career however, his first inclinations were towards flying, aeroplanes probably being an even greater passion than drawing during those teenage years and with this in mind he successfully applied to the Royal Air Force to train as a pilot in 1966. Despite eventually soloing on jet trainers he proved to be a less than inspired pilot, the RAF demanding nothing short of the absolute best of its trainees and with some heaviness of heart elected to leave the service (rather than stay on in some other non-flying capacity) and apply to Newport School of Art for a year's foundation course.

He was accepted and then went on to complete a 3 year Diploma in Art and Design course at St. Martin's School of Art in London. He left St Martins with a pretty poor grade (there wasn't much enthusiasm for this 'science fiction nonsense') but had already been signed up by the recently established illustration agency, Young Artists (1972). He has been with this agency, later re-named 'Arena' ever since.

In the 28 years since then Jim Burns has never been without work, mostly in the science fiction field (his personal passion) and has produced jackets for many hundreds of books both in the U.K. and the U.S.A. He has also had some involvement with conceptual design for films, notably in 1980 when he spent 10 weeks in Hollywood working on the film Blade Runner.

In 1979 Jim Burns collaborated with the famous science fiction writer, Harry Harrison on a large format illustrated novella, PLANET STORY (publisher - Pierrot) - which Jim regards as pivotal in the development of his career.

In 1985 Paper Tiger published a collection of Jim's paintings with a text by fellow-Welsh S.F. writer, Chris Evans - called LIGHTSHIP.

In 1999 Paper Tiger published a second Jim Burns collection called TRANSLUMINAL - this time with an anecdotal text contributed by Jim (in response to oft-made requests from fans).

He has won the Hugo award twice - the only non-American ever to have won it (footnote) and has also picked up 12 BSFA awards (The British Science Fiction Award presented annually at the largest British S.F. convention, Eastercon). This is more than anyone else - including writers!

Jim Burns tends to paint mostly in acrylics these days, though he has gone through career phases using gouache and oils. He would like to return to oils eventually, particularly if he can ever find the time to do more personal work!

His work is often exhibited at conventions on both sides of the Atlantic. He is also represented by the well-known Washington based gallery, Worlds of Wonder through whom Jim has sold many original works to private collectors. His work has also appeared at Sotherby's auctions of historical and contemporary fantasy art. This kind of science fiction/fantasy painting is becoming more and more collectable and can fetch quite high prices.

Author John Meaney with the Jim Burns Cover for Paradox


But the biggest change in his commercial output has been in the field of digital art and an increasingly significant proportion of his work is completed these days on an AppleMac computer - a development he finds exciting and challenging.

Jim Burns lives in rural Wiltshire in a 300 year old cottage with his wife of 27 years, Sue (They met at art college!). He has four children - Elinor (aged 23), Megan (aged 21), Gwendolen (aged 17) and Joseph (aged 11).

[Editors footnote: I assume that Jim Burns means that he is the only non-American to win the Art Hugo Award. Author and Non-American David Langford has won the most Hugos for fan writing]

Artists exhibiting

Alligator Descartes, Anne Sudworth, Brian Waugh, Chris Moore, David A Hardy, David Angus, David Vickers, Dominic E Harman, Fred Gambino, Jim Burns, Keith Scaife, Lisa Konrad, Planet Fresh, SMS, Steve Stone, Sue Mason, Les Edwards.

Exhibition details: Dates: 14th July 2000 to 11th August 2000 Opening hours: 10:30 to 17:30. (closed Sundays) Admission: Free

2nd Floor Art Gallery Foyles Bookshop
113-119 Charing Cross Road
London WC2H 0EB
United Kingdom






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    Text supplied by the artists,
Photos copyright Alex McLintock 2000.