McClinton’s Perspective— Artist Profile

Malcolm McClinton is an amazing artist whose work has graced several of Elder Signs Press’ book covers.  Making his home in Oregon, he is a lively individual who describes himself on his Facebook page as “Just a guy making a living from his art and imagination.” Be sure  to check out his work at
ESP) You’ve done artwork for several ESP titles. How did you approach the work? What was the process? Could you describe a little about how you might have reacted differently to two or three covers. The Ravening? Pallid Light? The Anthology of Dark Wisdom? (I loved your art on that one, by the way)
McClinton) In the work I have done for ESP, I am usually given a description of what the publisher would like to see and then he just lets me loose to come up with the cover, giving me a great deal of freedom, which is always lots of fun.
My approach to any illustration is the same….I tend to like to just dive in to a piece with out doing much in the way of sketch work. Instead I like working in a more free form organic way. I may have a general idea of the direction of the image, but no firm idea of what I want the final image to look like…. I usually start by creating the central character or object as anchor,  and build out from there. I’m sometimes surprised by the direction and shape that my images take as they grow and expand across my canvas.
For instance in the case of The Ravening I started with the female zombie figure in the foreground, and then started to adding in the rest of the pack of undead, it was only then that I even thought about what the background would look like.

I took a slightly different approach to The Anthology of Dark Wisdom cover.  I started with the main character as usual, but the city was such an important part of the image that I tackled that next and then populated it with lurking characters. It was almost like blocking a stage play.
ESP) What’s the greatest challenge in doing cover illustration?

McClinton)I try to draw a person in to pick up the book and read the back cover, that’s really my job.  I guess the greatest challenge is trying to capture the author’s intent, to translate his vision into a single image. I am often working off art descriptions and do not get a chance to read the manuscript so this can make it particularly challenging.
ESP) What exciting things are happening for you right now? Where will fans see your work? I understand you have a collection coming out? Attending any conventions?
McClinton)A collection of my work? this is the first I have heard of it, ha, no afraid not. I am really loving where I am at these days. I’ve carved a pretty nice niche for myself.  Book covers and rpg covers are my primary concentration, but I’m doing concept work and posters for small independent films, and video games. Also comic book pin ups and covers, and even illustrations for a high end clothing company. I’m hoping to build on this in the coming year. But what would be dream come true, would be able to work on my own projects and bring them to fruition, but right now I pretty much have to work non stop on paying projects to make a living at this illustration thing.
ESP) When you look at your work, what genre (horror, fantasy, etc) do you prefer and why?
McClinton)If you had asked me that a few years ago the answer would have been fantasy, but I think that has shifted toward horror. It’s funny, up until a few years ago I don’t know if I had ever done a zombie piece. I was never too keen on zombies– too dim witted I guess. But over this last few years I have been commissioned to do quite a few zombie images and have  come to appreciate them.  I’ve had the opportunity to do all kinds of horror, including things from the Cthulhu mythos –man I love doing love doing tentacles.

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