Matthews, Rodney

Rodney Matthews exploded into the art scene in the early 1970s with fantasy visions far removed from his commercial design training at the West of England College of Art and his previous stint at an advertising agency. His lavish landscapes, filled with fantastical cities, strange creatures and mammoth machinery, sold in millions worldwide as posters, adorning the walls of hungry fans. Their craving extended to album covers and book illustrations as publishers quickly realised the popularity of his imagination. In the world of rock music, Matthews designs have appeared on over 140 album covers – and counting – since his first cover for Thin Lizzy, including Asia, Eloy, Magnum, Nazareth, Praying Mantis and Rick Wakeman. His contributions to the literary world are extensive, yet it is his illustrations for author Michael Moorcock for which he has become synonymous – his depiction of Elric of Melniboné can be identified by an entire generation. To this day he is still being asked to create pieces from the saga.

A successful fifty-year career in illustration would more than suffice for many, but for Matthews the drive has always been to give life to his creations, to see them rise from the paper and on to the big screen. In many ways he has achieved this goal, supplying conceptual designs for video games – Sony Psygnosis’ ‘Shadow Master’ and Midway’s ‘Haven - The Call of the King’ – and contributing inspirational images for movies – ‘The Magic Roundabout’ (2005). In 1998, alongside the late Gerry Anderson of ‘Thunderbirds’ fame, Matthews completed ‘Lavender Castle’ – a 26-episode major children's series, incorporating stop-motion model animation and CGI. Produced at the legendary Cosgrove Hall, it was aired by ITV and met with great critical acclaim. Today, Matthews, with his wife Sarah, is working on another children’s animation series titled ‘Yendor’. Their first instalment has been a triumph on the international film festival circuit, winning over 30 awards.

When Matthews is not being creative with a paintbrush, he can be found playing the drums. An accomplished drummer, he recently released his first album 'Trinity', a progressive rock extravaganza, with ten tracks, each inspired by one of his own images. He is joined by many great musicians, all of whom he has designed album covers for, including Jeff Scheetz, Oliver Wakeman, John Payne, Tony Clarkin and Rick Wakeman.

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