(Jack) Introduction: I’m very proud to introduce a very talented artist, Ural Akyuz. For those visiting my blog for the first time, Ural is the artistic genius behind my Shadows of Kings book cover. After experiencing his work firsthand and visiting his website, I felt compelled to probe a little inside the man behind the paintbrush. But before I jump into the thick of things, I must confess that while singing your praises, I’m certain I’ve butchered your name on occasion. How do you pronounce it?
(Ural) Akyuz is a combined word from Ak (ack) and yuz (yous). The meaning of “Ak” is white and clean, the meaning of “yuz” is face or visage. My first name should be very easy because it’s the name of the mountain range located in Russia between Europe and Asia. My grandpa had some visions on the night that I was born. He told my parents about some unnatural creature – genie, or goblin that came from the Ural mountains. My dad said my poor grandpa was very scared. When I was born, they were inspired from my grandpa’s story while naming me.
(Jack) Thanks, Ural. Ok…first question. When did you first realize you had an artistic gift?
(Ural) I had a friend in the same class when I started middle school, who was the brother of an artist. First we created some comic books and produced many copies from them with transfer copy papers. Then we started to send our work to kid magazines. One of my paintings about a pop star was published at one of the top music magazines as a full-page poster when I was only fifteen years old.
(Jack) While initially developing your craft, were you able to surround yourself with supportive people?
(Ural) My family was very supportive of my talent, and they have tried to help me a lot. I also continue to work with my middle school friend. I have found many supportive people all around the world.
(Jack) Do you remember your first client?
(Ural) My friend and I saw some TV commercials advertising a new local newspaper. They needed some talented artists for some comic strips. After showing them our work, they ordered forty pages of comics to publish. We both have a wonderful imagination, so we finished in a month. We sold it without any changes, and we were only sixteen years old.
(Jack) Your expertise stretches across a broad spectrum. Your work includes portraits, book covers, and web design – just to name a few. Is there a specific type of work you prefer?
(Ural) I always prefer to work on many branches, but always in the same tree – keeping busy and productive. This helps me feel more secure and informed of my industry. I do prefer oil paintings and enjoy working with book publishers. I’m also envious of writers. I wish I had the time to write something too. But that’s another tree in the same garden.
(Jack) Is there a particular piece of work you favor above all the others? And don’t feel you’re obligated to say mine. <snicker>
(Ural) Shadows of Kings really has a very special place in my life. I had a very strong feeling that I would get an order for this kind of project. After two days with these feelings, I got a call from a publisher about Shadows of Kings. I thought this couldn’t be a coincidence. My second feeling, was this would be my best painting – not by choice, but by fate or destiny. And your help with the cover’s concept was most appreciated. This has absolutely been my favorite project to date.
(Jack) Since most of my readers are either authors or book enthusiasts, can you provide a quick dossier of publishers you have worked with?
(Ural) I have worked with Twilight Times Books, Baen, Heavy Metal Magazine and authors such as: Travis S. Taylor, Darrell Bain and Gerald Mills, Dave Freer, Nancy Fulda, Elizabeth Bear, Mike Resnick, and Kristine Kathryn Rusch – to name a few. I have also worked for many big publishers in Istanbul. My portfolio also includes many covers and articles for Italian comic books and Swedish magazines.
(Jack) Are there any current projects you wish to share?
(Ural) I have completed a 120 page illustrated children’s book project. But I have to keep the details a secret right now. I am also working on ten more books. I also want to open a new art store with my wife. She is a very talented artist and we have illustrated many books together in the past.
(Jack) Thanks, Ural for taking the time to share your insights today. You are truly gifted.
(Ural) Thank you very much for your questions and for your time. If I have a gift, I’m really happy to share it with you. You have a perfect gift as a writer. You are sharing your unique imagination with us, so we know each other well.
(Jack) To those visiting this blog, please take the time to view Ural’s work. If you are fortunate enough to work with Ural…you will not be left wanting.
Until we meet again,