John Watkiss has created visual development art for films like Disney’s Tarzan, Treasure Planet, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Fantasia 2000, Skycaptain and the World of Tomorrow and the proposed Sandman. In his movie related career he has done work for Twentieth Century Fox, Dreamworks, Francis Ford Coppola and Ridley Scott Associates.
Watkiss has also had a career as a comic book artist, doing covers and interiors for D.C., Marvel and UK publishers on titles like Batman, Conan, Deadman and Sandman.
If that isn’t enough, Watkiss also is a gallery artist. His subjects are frequently images of women painted in a modern style but in costume and compositions influenced by Victorian painting.
You can see a mixture of his film development and gallery work on his blog, though not much of the work for comics. There are unofficial galleries of his comics work on ComicArtFans and Comic Art Community.
On his blog, there are some visual development paintings for a prospective Sandman movie on this page. Despite the huge red “SOLD” across some of them, clicking on them still takes you to viewable images (image above, bottom).
Watkiss has taught anatomy and other art subjects at Royal College of Art in London, as well as other schools. He is the author of several books on anatomy. These don’t seem to be available through the usual online bookstores, but can be ordered directly from the sidebar of Watkiss’ blog. Watkiss has a drawing approach that combines fluid linework with strong underlying geometry, reminiscent of George Bridgeman or Andrew Loomis. Students of figure construction may see a similarity to Burne Hogarth as well.
The books had a dedicated site at one time, and there was also a site devoted to his gallery art, but he seems to have dropped those in favor of the bog.
There is still a site dedicated to his gallery art, a different one, The Works of John Watkiss at seventhsealproductions.com, I don’t know if it is directly connected to Watkiss or not. Here you will find his Pre-Raphaelite influenced paintings of women in (and out of) classical gowns and idyllic settings. These are my favorites of his, in which subjects and styles we are used to seeing rendered with a high degree of finish are given a lighter, more gestural approach.
There is a YouTube video of a “Levi’s spec ad featuring John Watkiss” that Marcel Duchamp fans in particular may find amusing.
A new solo exhibition of Watkiss’ work from all three aspects of his career opens on August 2nd and runs to August 10, 2008 at Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra, California.
Solo exhibition at Gallery Nucleus (8/2/08- 8/10/08)
The Works of John Watkiss
Gallery on Comic Art Fans
Gallery on Comic Art Community
"Levi's spec ad featuring John Watkiss"
Bio on Lambiek.net
Bio on Wikipedia
Blog post on Harald Siepermann
Progressive Anatomy on Stuart NG Books
John Watkiss on Amazon
6 Replies to “John Watkiss”
i’m a fan of Watkiss’ work since i firstly saw it on a 3 parts story on Conan fifteen years ago, but i did not knew of his work as teacher and of his books!
i loved his flowing inks and so strong edgy characters… and i love now his paintings taht i see on his blog!
thanks for the great article!
Hi John, You probably wont remember, but i worked with you at storyboards in London in the
late 80,s,i visited your studio off Regents Park a couple a times as-well. Love your work!!!
I just saw the s/boards you,ve done for
Sherlock Holms, could you tell me if you did them om Marker paper,or cartridge??
You a true Draughtsman.
Remember me? I think it was Burnwood High and I was your art teacher back in 1974ish I think the last time we met was at Stoke station. Now I live in the US. I’m glad to see you have done so well tho its no surprise to me.
Last time I saw you was in the Bricklayers Arms some 20 or so years ago, wow that makes me feel old! Now living on the Isle of Wight and still painting! one of my sons is doing a graphic novel project for A level so I thought I would look you up. I had no idea you had done so much!! Congratulations. would you mind if my son emailed you? his name is Ollie.
celia, John Watkiss is unlikely to see your comments here. You might try to contact him through his blog.
I looked at his other work, and was sad that the work he did on Sword Woman was so poor, since it’s obvious that he could have done a better job. Much of the work in the book looks like rough skecthes. Why he would not do better work is a surprise . I love the illustrated series of Howard books from DelRey, but Sword Woman looks pretty bad compared to most of the other books in the series.
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