Artist Paul Kellam is responsible for the glorious cover for FIYAH #19 Sound and Color. We asked him about his art and inspirations below.

cover art for FIYAH #19: Sound and Color. An astronaut reclines on padded flora on an alien planet, beside a river and a pink, three-eyed tiger circles them.What inspired you to originally want to be an artist?

I’ve been creative since I was very young, my parents said I drew on my walls with crayons and even signed my name, haha. I was incredibly inspired when Avatar the Last Airbender released, and that’s when I began taking my art more seriously.

What advice would you have for people looking to become an artist as a career? What are some of the highs and lows they can expect?

Draw everyday! That’s crucial, haha. Always study and absorb the world around you, your inspirations should come from an array of sources to generate something truly unique! There’s definitely going to be some low moments, and rejection from work is inevitable; but fear of rejection will hinder you much more if you never try. Always put your best foot forward, with intentions on improving and succeeding.

What would you say have been the top highlights of your artistic career so far?

I’m always overjoyed by the positive reactions I see in people who consume my work. Last year I got to work in children’s publishing, some album covers, and even a makeup line! Having been featured in Imagine FX, and now FIYAH is such an honor for me, and I’m grateful for the opportunities building up.

Who are some of your favorite artists currently?

I’m currently enamored by the works of Lois Van Baarle, Takata Yamamoto, Frazetta, and Robert E. McGinnis.

What inspired the FIYAH cover piece? Was it one particular thing or a convergence of different inspirations?

It was definitely a combination of several influences, I was aiming  for the colors to converse and react to each other. While drawing a lot of mermaids at the time, I thought with a lot of coral like colors and strange plants in mind. I listened to an eclectic assortment of music which further spawned the environment. Songs by Jimi Hendrix, Glass Animals, Solange, Muse, and Gorillaz helped to guide me through this quirky adventure.

What was the most difficult lesson you had to learn as an artist?

You can not please everyone with your work, nor control how they’ll receive it. An artist’s genuine intentions can be overlooked by some, but that shouldn’t discourage you. There’s always people in your corner that are cheering you on, and lessons to be learned in the power your art possesses. Always strive towards your most authentic self.

What projects do you have coming down the pipeline? Anything you’re particularly excited about?

I am working on a few children’s books and expanding my clientele. Though, I’m hoping to get more creative with my online shop and start producing my own merchandise! I’d love to see my work embodied in clothing and toys.

Tell us where we can find you. Social media, website etc.?

You can follow my creative journey under my handle @deericku on Instagram/ Twitter.

L.D. Lewis is an award-winning SF/F writer and editor, and publisher at Fireside Magazine. She serves as a founding creator and Project Manager for the World Fantasy and Hugo Award-winning FIYAH Literary Magazine. She also serves as the founding Director of FIYAHCON, boardmember for Diverse Voices, Inc., Researcher for the LeVar Burton Reads podcast, and pays the bills as the Awards Manager for the Lambda Literary Foundation. She frequently authors studies about the treatment and experiences of racially/ethnically marginalized authors in speculative literature. She is the author of A Ruin of Shadows (Dancing Star Press, 2018) and her published short fiction and poetry includes appearances in FIYAH, PodCastle, Strange Horizons, Anathema: Spec from the Margins, Lightspeed, and Neon Hemlock, among others. She lives in Georgia, on perpetual deadline, with her coffee habit, two very photogenic kittens, and an impressive Funko Pop! collection. Tweet her @ellethevillain.

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