Go to Homepage   Martina Pilcerova - Continued

Student work for the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava (Bronze, © Martina Pilcerova)

Martina Pilcerova: That's a hard question. It's the same for me. If I do a book cover, I have to be careful about the composition so that there is no problem with where they put the title. That's the only difference, but I don't feel any difference.

Crescent Blues: I notice on your Web site you've got a couple of bronze heads. Do you like working with bronze?

Martina Pilcerova: I did it only once, because I wanted to try how it feels to work with this material. I feel pretty comfortable with sculpting. It's not something I want to press myself into, but I wanted to try it.

The heads were inspired by the cover art I made at that time. I think it was for Nancy Kress, her story, "The Flowers of Aulit Prison." There was this character who looked half like a cat and half like a human. I did take photos of one girl who started in our school. She was really strange looking. I did more paintings and drawings about this character, and then I was inspired to do these bronze heads. In the end they were different than the character.

Downtown Blues - Cover for Downtown Blues by Myra Cakan (Acrylics on board, © Martina Pilcerova)

Crescent Blues: What is your particular favorite type of work to do -- painting, sculpture, animation…?

Martina Pilcerova: My particular favorite is science fiction. I also like to do fantasy sometimes, but it depends. I like mostly science fiction and environmental things -- these huge cities and structures in space where I can do rusting walls, complicated structures.

Crescent Blues: Intricate architecture.

Martina Pilcerova: Many textures -- I love to do the textures on streets, walls or bridges. The painting Downtown Blues and the new one, Wasteland, are ones that I really like. Downtown Blues was the cover for a German book, but it was also chosen for Spectrum [the annual compendium of the best in contemporary fantasy art] last year.

Crescent Blues: Do you have any painting rituals, or do you just stand up and paint?

Martina Pilcerova: I'm really connected with music. When I do something, I always have to listen to some kind of music. I usually listen to soundtracks, and I choose two or three CDs for one painting, and I listen to them again and again while I'm painting. I especially enjoy the soundtracks to The Lord of the Rings or Matrix or Bladerunner or what else?

Crescent Blues: Fantasy or sci-fi!

Shai-Hulud - Inspired by Frank Herbert's Dune (Oils on board, © Martina Pilcerova)

Martina Pilcerova: And I love to listen to Michael Oldfield's music. If you go to my site, you can see the paintings that are inspired by Dune and others that are inspired by Michael Oldfield's music. I did about five of them. One of them is called Secrets, which was used by Sci-fi Chronicles this spring, and one of them was also published in Michael Oldfield's official magazine in London. It was inspired by Tubular Bells 3.

Crescent Blues: You said you sold your first art when you were 15. How long have you been working professionally?

Martina Pilcerova: Fifteen years -- OK, fourteen and a half. I started with comics, and I was doing comics for five years, then I slowly started to make covers and illustrations.

Crescent Blues: Do you still do comics?

Martina Pilcerova: No.

Crescent Blues: How did you get your first break? Did you know somebody in the business or did you submit stuff? How did it happen?

The Warrior's Apprentice - Cover for the novel by Lois McMasters Bujold (Oils on board, © Martina Pilcerova)

Martina Pilcerova: Since I was a small child, I was always painting, always drawing. When I was six there was a competition, and I won the first award in Czechoslovakia. Later, I was doing some comics for myself, and I showed them to a few people. They told me to show it to the editor of the comics magazine that was just published in Slovakia. He really liked it, and he published it.

When I started to covers for books, it was very hard to begin with, because I was living in a small town. I was not at the university. I was far away from all the publishers and everybody. So it was very hard and took a lot of time.

It's the same here in the United States. A lot of publishers are afraid to work with me, because I am far away. But it is not a problem, because I can be connected with them through the Internet, and we have U.P.S. or FedEx.

Crescent Blues: Speaking of the Internet, do you work exclusively in "physical media" or do you do any digital art?

Martina Pilcerova: I like to work in physical media, but when I scan it, I like to change some small things in the painting. Not really too much, but sometimes I'll add some airbrush, or I'll adjust colors in the way I like them -- just small, finishing stuff.

"…And Sometimes it Shines Through, Somehow…" - Inspired by The Lord of the Rings (Acrylics and oils, © Martina Pilcerova)

Crescent Blues: Enhancements to make it print better.

Martina Pilcerova: Yes. I've also started to use more digital [tools] for sketches, when I have to rework something. I do much more stuff in the computer today.

Crescent Blues: You've got quite a list of awards. Is there one, in particular, that means the most to you?

Martina Pilcerova: I am really happy that I won those Czechoslovakian awards. They are called the Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Academy Awards for the Best in the Czech and Slovak Republics. There is a committee that looks at all the books that were published and they give awards for the best artwork. I've won it three times now, and some artists really hate me, because they want to win it too.

I'd like to add that fandom is still together in the Czech and Slovak Republics. Fandom is not divided. We have conventions that are for both Slovaks and Czechs. We didn't divide it like the states did.

Crescent Blues: How has the division of the republics affected you as an artist?

Martina Pilcerova: I think it didn't have any effect, because it happened just when I was starting to break in. I think it would be the same, regardless. I work Czech publishers, because most of the books are published in Czech Republic.

Crescent Blues: Prague's a bigger city than Bratislava.

Martina Pilcerova: Yes, and Slovak's read Czech books, but Czechs don't read Slovak books. The market in Slovakia is so small, the publishers just get back money for the printing. So they don't really print a lot of science fiction books.

When the Music's Over - Illustration for a movie project by Myra Cakan (Acrylics on board)

Crescent Blues: What would you say are the major differences between the Czech and Slovak science fiction/fantasy scenes and the U.S. science fiction/fantasy scene?

Martina Pilcerova: I don't see that much difference in working with them…except that Czech's don't like to pay.

Crescent Blues: Nobody likes to pay.

Martina Pilcerova: And the price in Czech Republic is very small compared to American prices. For me this is a problem, because I need this money to spend in the U.S. for work, to make contacts and meet people.

I think it's the same, because I always do the sketch first, and the publisher tells me if I should rework something a different way. Then I do the painting.

Crescent Blues: What do you think will be your next steps?

Martina Pilcerova: I've made some really good contacts in the movie industry, and I really hope to get my dream job working for the movies.

Click here to learn more about Martina Pilcerova.

Jean Marie Ward