Sci-Fi Art Now Creator Interview: Steve Sampson

Steve Sampson, whose art graces the cover of the US edition of SciFi Art Now, was born in the East End of London and now lives and works in Brighton in the UK. After leaving Chelsea Art Collage he worked as a sheet metal worker for three years (“Something that I believe gives me a real understanding of what really hard work can be,” he notes, “and makes me feel incredibly lucky to make my living using what little art skills I have.”).

While working in the metal work factory he used to do any freelance art jobs that came his way. One of the strangest on going jobs was doing illustrations for Men Only, producing “sexy/erotic” images of women to go with a saucy written story each month…

SciFi Art Now: How did you finally break into illustrating as full time career?

Steve Sampson: At time I was doing the Men Only work, I was also illustrating a comic story that myself and a friend had written. Steve McManus (the then editor of 2000AD) saw the artwork and story plot and asked us up to the offices to have a chat with him. Even though nothing came of our story I was later offered a job illustrating for 2000AD.

For the most part I illustrated Judge Anderson and became good friends with Alan Grant, the strip’s writer. The comic years were great fun and I was lucky enough to work with some top class people on some wicked comics. That included Judge Dredd, Judge Anderson and Harmony for 2000AD; covers for Marvel UK (where I first met SciFi Art Now editor Mr Freeman); Mr X covers for Vortex comics, covers for Doctor Who Magazine — the list goes on.

SciFi Art Now: you’ve moved on form comics since though…

Steve: It was a childhood dream fulfilled to illustrate comics but the day came when I made the move to work in the games industry. These days I work during the day as a games artist here in Brighton for BlackRock Studio and at night and the weekends I do as much illustration work as I can get.  A couple of the recent games I’ve worked on are Pure and SplitSecond.

Steve’s illustration for
Andi Ewington’s  graphic novel 45,
published by Com.X

At Blackrock I work as a 3D environment artist and sometimes 2D concept artist.
I love 2D illustration and concept work so much that I try and get as much freelance work as I can manage.

Some of the cool illustration and concept projects I’ve worked on are a set of Manga images for Getty Images;  a book for Barnes and Noble called Draw Manga, Step by Step on your Computer; and three images for a book published by Collins Design called Erotic Fantasy Art, edited by Aly Fell and Duddlebug.

I did recently dipped my toe back into the comics work, doing an illustration for a graphic novel written by Andi Ewington and published by ComX called Forty Five.

Ten, of course, there’s the unbelievable honour of having my image “StoneFish” chosen for cover of the US edition of SciFi Art Now.

I have also just had an image chosen to be included in Ballistic Publishing’s latest edition of their Expose book (Book 8). The image is titled Hunted and features a new character of mine called Little Blade.

SciFi Art Now: What tools do you mainly use to create your art?

Steve: I always sketch out the images on tracing paper then scan them into the computer. I then colour them using both Adobe illustrator CS3 and Photoshop CS3. If I need any 3D elements, I use Modo.

Hunted by Steve Sampson

SciFi Art Now: Why?

Steve: Speed. Back when I was working full time in the comics industry all the artwork was hand drawn and hand painted.

Working with the computer is just way more quicker and cleaner, no pots of paint laying around for the cat to stick his nose in!

I use Photoshop because it was the first program I learned but I’d like to take some time to get to grips with Corel Painter. I really like what some people are producing using Painter.

Using a 3D package some times helps block things out and helps with perspective issues.

SciFi Art Now: What inspired you to become an artist?

Steve: To be honest it’s hard to remember. I’ve always loved drawing and from an early age I fell in love with comics and I guess the inspiration started there.

SciFi Art Now: What was the most useful piece of advice you were given when you began learning your craft?

Steve: A truly inspiring art teacher, Mr O’Sullivan, once said to me that great art is not always about drawing all the small details you see, some times it’s about what you leave out.

SciFi Art Now: Which artists most inspire you?

Steve: The list could go on forever and can change from day to day, but to name a few right here and now: Gustav Klimt, Barry Windsor Smith, Bill Sienkiewicz, Mick McMahon, Sam Flores, Craig Mulins, Michael Kutsche and Koji Morimoto. 

SciFi Art Now: What is the appeal to you of science fiction as an inspiration for some of your work?

Steve: Sci Fi has everything an artist could dream of… It’s the world of the imagination. The possibility of what could be, what maybe and what one day will be. There is no limit and no rules.

Red Rum by Steve Sampson

SciFi Art Now: Do you have a favourite piece of work or project you have worked on?

Steve: It’s not a thing I link to do, dwell on my own work, I’ve always just moved on to the next image and hoped that I’ve learned something and can make the next image better, but a recent image I’ve done that gives me some satisfaction is the second image featuring the character Little Blade.
What make me happy about this image is that artistically the character has involved, somehow she seems to have more depth.

SciFi Art Now: In your career, have you had any bizarre experiences while creating your art?

Steve: Well recently I was approached to do an illustration for a book cover. I can’t give many details, but it’s a cover for a novel by an American publisher and the title of the book has the word FOX in it. It’s a job that I’m really excited about and wanted very much.

Anyway, after a number of emails back and forth between the client and myself, I was waiting for the final confirmation that I had the job. It was around 10.00pm when the mail arrived and — yippee!! — the job was mine!!

I was well pleased and went out onto the Balcony to have a smoke in celebration. (It’s a bad habit, I know). We live on a side street in Brighton that’s just off the sea front. It was dark but the Moon was out, I looked down towards the sea, I was thinking about the book cover and the Fox.

Then looked down onto the street below and to my utter surprise there was a fox, standing in the road looking up at me!

I swear this is a true story!! He just looked at me for a moment then went running up the road. Let’s hope it’s a good luck sign.

Check out my website in a few weeks for news on the book cover, soon as I can I’ll post images up.

SciFi Art Now: What most frustrates you about being an artist?

Steve: This is a tricky one. Something that seems to happen more in the games industry and really applies to the world of concept art and not 3D game art, and can be very frustrating, is that the people with the power to give artists work don’t really seem to know much about the concept art field.

I know art is all about personal opinion and taste but sometimes I see great artists not getting work when it’s given to people that are just not very good.

SciFi Art Now: What keeps you going despite the hopefully occasional frustrations?

Steve: My art is who I am, it’s a big part of what makes me the person that I am, so whatever the up’s and down’s I could never stop, it means to much to me.

SciFi Art Now: What advice would you offer to anyone starting out as an artist?

Steve: Never miss a deadline!! Practice practice practice! The client is always right and even if he isn’t make him believe he is.And stay true to yourself 🙂

SciFi Art Now: Steve, thanks for your time.

Steve: I’d just like to say a big thank you to John for asking me to submit work for SciFi Art Now. It was great fun working on the images and a real shock and honour to have one selected for the US cover.

• For nore of Steve’s art visit: Contact Steve via

Categories: Comic Creator Interviews


Discover more from

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading