Jim Burns was born in 1948 in Cardiff, South Wales. Amongst his earliest influences, like so many of his generation, were the classic “Dan Dare-Pilot of The Future” comic strips created by Frank Hampson in The Eagle comic. At the age of eighteen he joined the RAF, indulging a passion for flying and subsequently soloing on Chipmunk and Jet Provost trainer aircraft, before leaving and opting for an artistic career.
After attending a foundation course at Newport College of Art in South Wales, he completed a three year course in Graphic Design and Illustration at St Martin’s School of Art in London. During this time he met his wife-to-be, Sue, a fine arts student at the same college. At the end of the course, his work was seen by Young Artists Agency proprietor John Spencer, who invited him to join his expanding roster of artists. In 1975, John Spencer handed over the reins to Alison Eldred – who has remained Jim’s agent ever since. Throughout his career Jim has concentrated almost exclusively on the production of science fiction imagery, mostly for the publishing industry, but with the occasional foray into motion picture production, most notably in 1980 when he contributed pre-production material for Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. His work has been split more or less evenly between Britain and the US, where he is represented by Alan Lynch Artists.
He regularly exhibits his work at science fiction conventions in the UK and the US, giving talks and slide presentations about his work at these fan gatherings, and has three times been the recipient of the Hugo Award for the best professional Science Fiction artist at the World-Cons (he remains the only non-American ever to win the Best Artist Award). He has also won the British Science Fiction Award 13 times. In his work, Jim’s intention is to convey a photo-realistic depiction of non-existent, science fiction scenarios, with a narrative quality approximating as closely as possible the worlds the writers have created in their texts. In 1997, he embraced the idea of creating these worlds on the Mac and in some part his work these days is produced digitally. He still feels he has a lot to learn with this technology though!
These days he is starting to paint more personal work, still related to the fantastical..but in a more ‘painterly’ style – in part on canvas…as opposed to the smooth, gessoed boards he formerly preferred.
Jim Burns and his wife live in the West Country town of Trowbridge, Wiltshire, England. He has three daughters – Elinor, Megan and Gwendolen as well as a son, Joseph.