Dan McPharlin – Selected Works
Veteran readers of Sci-Fi-O-Rama will obviously be familiar with the work of Austrailian artist and model-maker Dan McPharlin. He contributed to several posts and of course, designed the Sci-Fi-O-Rama logo. I’ve featured his gorgeous paintings many times and also interviewed him back in 2010.
Sadly as you probably are aware, in 2015 Dan’s internet presence stopped, and thus, nothing new has since appeared. This is not necessarily ominous, I believe Dan may simply be living ‘off-the-grid’. Over the past few years, I’ve received several emails regarding contacting him for potential commisions, I’m afraid I know nothing more than mentioned, I’ve lost touch with him myself. Anyway, let us not be gloomy, I’m sure he’s fine and busy beavering away on some spellbinding-vista as you read this…
A recap then and study of his overflowing talent.
Above and Title Image: ‘Storie Incredibili / Contatto col Nemico’ Wired Magazine (Italy), July-August 2014 issue.
These serene post-apocalyptic Illustrations form the perfect introduction to the art of Dan McPharlin and demonstrate how he excels at his craft. A delicate blend of Science Fiction and Surrealism, perfectly composed with a precisely balanced colour palette washed over with soft mists of texture.
As with all of Dan’s Illustrative work what makes it stand apart so clearly, beyond the craftsmanship, is the subtle detailing. Never one to follow the mainstream Dan’s approach to Sci-Fi digital painting veers well away from common cliches. Take the character above, with the gas mask and slung rifle, his (or hers) design owes more to the Imperial German Army of WW1 than it does to say video games such as Destiny or Mass Effect.
Naturally, Dan is not without his influence, there’s an echo here of several prominent 70s artists (Sci-Fi-O-Rama Favourites) including Roger Dean, Ian Miller, Syd Mead, John Harris and others. Yet these influences are applied far from verbatim, they are just hints, an indirect nod too past masters.
Indeed, Dan has never made any secret of his love of art from the golden age. See below, his collection of classic and highly sought after 70/80s Sci-Fi art compendiums, note that even I own but a few of these. Suffice to say, he certainly knows his trade.
Next up then we have another piece from 2014, this one produced as part of ‘Moments Lost’ a selection of both art and music inspired by Ridley Scott’s ‘Bladerunner’ (1982).
The project was assembled by Swedish record label Analog. After successfully crowdfunding the project, they released a 12″ vinyl with accompanying art book that also includes work from a certain Kilian Eng (more on him soon).
This is Dan’s contribution below, with detail first.
Above: ‘Moments Lost’ Analog Sweden, 2014.
This smog-shrouded cityscape has a feel of both Peter Elson and John Harris though particularly the later. Runway strip lighting and behemoth structures were once Harris’s trademark, these days he uses oils in a much looser fashion.
Above: ‘Chapter 18’ 18 x 24″ 7 colour silkscreened poster on cougar natural cover paper. Part of the Mythos exhibition & print series
No prizes for guessing the above print is inspired by Joan Lindsay’s novel ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’. The story of the mysterious disappearance of three female students whilst on a field trip in early 1900s Austrailia. It’s a haunting tale memorably converted into a 1975 Oscar-winning feature, directed by Peter Weir.
As ever, Dan’s take on the myth is perfect, and it’s nice to see his work with a more graphic edge in what I guess must be a 3-colour-print. The way he’s applied the dithered shading is just sublime.
Above top: ‘A short-range terrestrial craft, normally crewed by a pilot and his canine companion.’ Lego model with waterslide decals.
Above middle: ‘Orbiting Research Station. Collects and processes botanical data from probes sent to the planet’s surface below’ Lego model with waterslide decals.
Above bottom: ‘Originally designed as a mechanical suit, this specimen-collecting biped explores uncharted terrains autonomously. His nimble canine companion acts as a scout and sniffs out potential lifeforms.’ Lego model
Although Dan is most famous for his Illustration he’s also an extremely capable model maker, a skill that he’s applied here with a series of Lego builds that were shown at Brickvention 2013 (an Australian Lego builders convention).
Again what sets these models far-apart from the norm is not just how well they are designed, coloured and photographed, but the power they have to provoke an imaginative response. Study these and let your mind wander into their dimension. For some reason, they actually remind me of the absurdly-hyped video game ‘No Man’s Sky‘ though of course predate it.
Above: ‘Transmission 2’
Let’s wrap things up with a personal piece, hard to believe it’s a digital painting. This was produced for his superb 70s/80s ambient mix ‘Transmission 2’ posted over on Soundcloud. The perfect soundtrack to voyage into his otherworldly universe, check it out here.
Lets hope he returns soon. Dan we miss you!