by Arnie Fenner

Last month at the Spectrum 22 Awards ceremony (during Spectrum Fantastic Art Live), Scott Gustafson was presented with the 2015 Grand Master Award. It should surprise no one that I believe the honor is richly deserved.

The first time I saw Scott’s art was in an illustrated edition of Peter Pan in 1991: I was honestly amazed when I first opened the book and encountered his depictions of Neverland, the Lost Boys, and Captain Hook (his painting of the battle between Hook and Peter is a classic). Those feelings of astonishment and excitement about his art still come rushing back whenever I pull my well-thumbed copy off the bookshelf.

Above: Only four of many limited edition prints featuring Scott’s art that have been produced through the years by the Greenwich Workshop.

A graduate of the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, he originally planned to be an animator; while I’m sure Scott would have been successful working in the film industry, I think he actually answered his true calling. As modest as he is skilled, Scott is without question one of the finest painters to ever work in our field. Almost impossibly lush and impeccably rendered, his work is engaging, affecting, thoughtful, sensitive, and unforgettable. There is no one quite like him—and, like every other artist to receive the Grand Master Award, there has never been anyone that has created art quite the same way Scott creates, no one else who can see things the way he sees them or could replicate what he does.

Best known for his illustrations and gallery art based on fairy tales, fables, and children’s literature, he’s also been known to create pieces inspired by Star Wars (early in his career), Robert E. Howard’s Breckinridge Elkins, and the Wachowskis’ Shaolin Cowboy comic. The Greenwich Workshop has produced an extensive line of limited edition prints and collectible figurines and Scott has even written (and illustrated, naturally) a novel for young readers, Eddie: The Lost Youth of Edgar Allan Poe.

Above: Scott did not know that he was going to receive the Grand Master Award during the Spectrum 22 awards ceremony. So he was surprised to see his best friend Gary Gianni take the stage and start to tell a story about the creative process and someone he knew quite well. The last shot is of Scott and his wife Patty greeting well-wishers in the Folly Theater lobby immediately following the ceremony.
All photos courtesy of Sampsel Preston Photography.

Dan dos Santos spotlighted Scott here on MC several years ago and I encourage those not familiar with his art to hit the link for some insight and exceptional art. I’d also suggest visiting Carl V. Anderson’s blog Stainless Steel Droppings for a quick profile. Of course, you should also visit—and bookmark—Scott’s website for more info, art, and news.

Above: As mentioned earlier on MC, Spectrum Director John Fleskes came up with the idea of redesigning the awards this year (“Let’s make the new awards a classic work of Fine Art!”) and worked with renowned sculptors Kristine & Colin Poole to create the beautiful bronze Muse you see on the left. Several additional figures were added to the base to reflect Scott’s career illustrating fairy tales. The photo of the award and the portrait of Scott are by Greg Preston.

The Spectrum Advisory Board will start to talk about next year’s honoree in the coming months (criteria: must be living, must have a career exceeding 20 years, must have created a body of work of consistently high quality, must have influenced other artists with their work and professional attitude) and, naturally, we’re always open to suggestions from artists and readers.

But in the meantime let’s celebrate the accomplishments of one of our best, one of our own: 2015 Grand Master Scott Gustafson!