Since 1995, he has also pursued a fine art career and his non-commissioned works are in established collections throughout the world.
A graduate of San Jose State University with a BA in Painting and a President’s Scholar, Michael went on to attend the Art Center College of Design also in California, but he dropped out to accept his first book cover assignment. He soon became known for his dedication to bringing an author’s words to life and Whelan covers dominated the science fiction and fantasy field throughout the 80’s and 90’s. He was largely responsible for the realistic style of genre covers of that era, and his stunning color and composition have influenced many artists to this day.
As the most honored artist in Science Fiction, Michael has won an unprecedented 15 Hugo Awards (SF’s Oscar), 3 World Fantasy Awards, and 13 Chesleys from the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists.The readers of Locus Magazine (for SF insiders) have named him Best Professional Artist 28 times in their annual poll and the Spectrum Annual of the Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art named him a Grand Master in 2004.Other noteworthy awards include a Gold Medal from the Society of Illustrators, a Vargas Award, a Grumbacher Gold Medal, and the Solstice Award from the Science Fiction Writers of America.
In 2009, he was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in Seattle, the first living artist to be named to the distinguished list that features such luminaries as H.G. Wells, Steven Spielberg, Rod Serling, and Ursula K. Le Guin.
Michael is an adviser to the Masters in Fine Arts Program at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, Connecticut.
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