- Jean-Francois Podevin
Updated: Apr 21, 2021
I have been a digital artist for 30 years and the cover of the first edition of Snowcrash was my first published digital illustration.
In 1989, long before Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop came to existence,
an early computer imaging pioneer named Larry Scher introduced me to digital art. At the time I worked with oil acrylics, gouache and airbrush, or any media that allowed me to meet my deadlines.
In 1991, Bantam Art Dept. assigned me to create the cover art for the first edition of Snowcrash. When I said that I had begun to work with computers, I was asked to create the cover of Snowcrash as a digital illustration.
I first drew pencil sketches, and painted separate elements
with gouache over B&W photocopies of my drawings.
I followed by scanning the results and process the image
on Larry’s SGI workstation with an ATT software called RIO
with which we calculated and programmed the digital filters.
As the deadline came to a close we ran into technical problems.
I had to be creative!
I printed from 35mm slides the output as color xeroxes,
created a small hodge podge half collage,half painted color
comprehensive sketch of the image.
Next I had a 20”by 24” rushed color print made which I painted
and airbrushed to become the art that you see.
Each single pixel, in the pixely part of the image, were hand painted!
I made the deadline, I said nothing of it and everyone at Bantam books were thrilled
with this new fangled "computer illustration."
It was indeed a hybrid work of art, part traditional painting and part digital image.
For me , this process reflected well the osmosis between the real world and the cyberworld of Snowcrash beyond the image design.
I could have never imagined Snowcrash to become the "1984" of cyberspace!
I had recently received several email queries about the artwork.
After Googling Snowcrash on the Internet, I decided to make it available as fine art print on my website: www.jfpodevin.com
Neil Stephenson has been credited as one of the great visionaries of cyberspace with concepts such as augmented reality, the computer virus, the avatar, and the Metaverse. It would fulfill this artwork's strange destiny that 30 years later the cover art of Snowcrash became part of this Metaverse.