Debbie Hughes Biography
Debbie was born in Lexington, Kentucky on May 14, 1958. She began drawing at age 6 inspired by her grandmother Hildegarde Hamilton, a well-known American impressionist and landscape artist (1920-1970). Debbie's mother dabbled in portraiture but did not pursue an artist career, however her father, Harry Mack Hughes, was a professional sports photographer who worked closely with the University of Kentucky. Unfortunately, Debbie's father passed away suddenly when she was 2 years old. The artist grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, later receiving a Bachelor of Fine Art from Furman University in South Carolina (1981). For at time, Debbie contemplated being a singer; she was in a rock band called HQ for five years while living in Knoxville, TN. After five years of preforming she quit when the time involved in preforming took her away from her first love of painting. After attending a science fiction convention she saw the potential for creating the type of fantastic realism she wanted to explore in her art. Her early influences were classical artists, Rembrandt van Rijn, Gericault, and surrealist Salvador Dali, later augmented by contemporary genre artists - Rodger Dean and Michael Whelan. Debbie also has a brief stint of working at the Greenville Museum of Art where she studied the works of Andrew Wyeth and N.C. Wyeth. At the time, this museum had the worlds largest collection of Andrew Wyeth's Works. While working there Debbie was also fortunate to meet Andrew's son Jamie Wyeth when he exhibited at the gallery as well. All three generations influenced Debbie's work. After moving to Knoxville, Tn, Debbie became part of a group of emerging and competitive science fiction artists from Tennessee who during most of the 1980's and 1990's dominated science fiction art shows in the Southeastern U.S. The group came to be labled "The Tennessee Art Mafia" or "southern art mafia" and consisted of Debbie Hughes, Kevin Ward, Alan Clark, Mark Maxwell, Bob Giadrosich, Mark Poole, David O. Miller and Darryl Elliot.
Hughes works in acrylic dry-brush and/or air-brush, usually on masonite board or panel. Her work is described often as dream-like, atmospheric, and rich in detail and color. Her science fiction works are slick, clean and high tech. In recent years, Hughes has spent a less time on photographic realism and more time on texture and exploration of thicker applications of paint. The air-brush has all but vanished as her primary tool. In recent years her work combines an acrylic underpainting that is finished with highlights of oil paint.
Hughes' first published work appeared on the cover of the semi-prozine Science Fiction Chronicle in 1989, when the magazine bought secondary rights to a painting she had created years earlier. In that year she also attended LunaCon, an annual Science Fiction Convention in New York, where her paintings caught the eye of Publisher Jim Baen of Baen Books. Baen commissioned Hughes to do two cover illustrations and he bought the rights to use one of her previously completed paintings for the cover of a Roger Zelazny anthology.
After Baen, Hughes began work for MBI/Easton Press books under then director Pam Pia. It was here that Hughes was allowed to shine and create works without the micro-management that she encountered from previous publishers. In addition to her continued work with Easton Press, Hughes signed on with Amazing Stories Magazine in 1991 and illustrated short stories until the magazine closed its doors in 1994. After that, Hughes signed on with Science Fiction Age magazine and illustrated for both SF Age and Realms of Fantasy, both produced by the same publisher. In addition, when the collectible game card market emerged, Hughes produced over 100 illustrations for 8 different CCG companies.
In 1992, a chance assignment for a then fledgling local computer gaming company in Knoxville, TN, Cyberflix, led Hughes to electronic media which included digital painting, animation and 3D rendering. Hughes began her work with Cyberflix producing hand-painted portraits of the main characters for their games. These images were scanned in and then animated. Later on Hughes, self-taught in computer skills, went on to animate the characters she had painted. Her first assignment was JumpRaven, an arcade game produced by Cyberflix and Paramount Interactive. This was followed by illustrations for an arcade game titled Viper, named after a television show that lasted one season. She later went on to complete illustrations for the western game, Dust, produced by the same companies. Hughes left Cyberflix in 1995 to work for another local CD rom company by the name of The Bookworm Student Library. There, Hughes returned to creating traditional art on board that was scanned in and used as illustrations for the classics of literature on CDRom. In the same town another CD rom company emerged and Hughes also worked with them both as a consultant and an illustrator. The company began as Hyperglot and produced Language learning CD's. It was later sold to The Learning Company, that was bought by Broderbund and then the name was changed back to The Learning Company. Hughes produced both traditional hand-drawn illustrations as well as created animation work for them.
Throughout her commercial career Hughes has pursued a following for her personal, unpublished works. Hughes has exhibited her paintings at over 100 shows in the U.S. and the U.K. winning many "Best in Show" awards and ribbons. She has also been the guest of Honor at fourteen conventions. In addition Hughes has exhibited at mainstream galleries in Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Washington DC, Virginia, South Carolina and New York. Hughes lives with her husband Dean Erickson in Buford, Georgia. They have two wonderful cats.
Biography written by Jane Frank, some updates added. From: Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists of the Twentieth Century: A Biographical Dictionary
Acta Astronautica, 2012, DYSON DOTS: CHANGING THE SOLAR CONSTANT TO A VARIABLE WITH PHOTOVOLTAIC LIGHTSAILS by Robert Kennedy. Illustrations by Debbie Hughes
The SFWA Bulletin Winter 2012. Full color cover.
Featured in Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists of the Twentieth Century: A Biographical Dictionary, by Jane Frank, 2009
Like Mayflies in a Stream Published by Hadley Rille Books, Story by Shauna Roberts. August 2009. Digital illustration
Very Hard Choices Easton Press edition, 2008. Written by Spider Robinson. Color Frontispiece. Limited Leatherbound Edition.
Ruins Metropolis published by Eric T Reynold Thirty-five fantasy and science fiction stories based on Debbie Hughes's cover art, "The Spirits of Hathor." 2008.
The Margarets, Easton Press edition, 2007. Novel by Sheri Tepper. Color Frontispiece. Limited Leatherbound Edition
O Mars dos Trolls, Editorial Presenca, Portugal. Full Color Wrap around cover, Novel by Nancy Farmer, 2006.
Postscripts, Spring issue 6, 2006, P & S Publishing, UK. 2006. Full Color Wrap around Cover.
Coyote Rising, Easton Press edition, 2005. Novel by Alen Steele. Color Frontispiece. Limited Leatherbound Edition
Tranquility Wars, Easton Press edition, 2000. Novel by Gentry Lee. Color Frontispiece. Limited Leatherbound Edition.
Infinity Beach, Easton Press edition, 2000. Novel by Jack McDevitt. Color Frontispiece. Limited Leatherbound Edition.
1976 - 1981
Published Work cont.
Would That it Were, July - September issue, 2000 - online. Edited by Don Munchow
Dust, Easton Press, 1998. Novel by Charles Pellegrino. Color Frontispiece. Limited Leatherbound Edition.
New Millennium Writings, Winter 1997-1998. Black and white interior illustration for Phyllis D. Kasler short story: Horse Opera.
"Mother Moves In" Realms of Fantasy Magazine, July issue 1995. Short Story by Deborah Wheeler.
"Tiny Demons" Bookworm Student Library, Collection of Poetry. 1995
Kubla Khan, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Bookworm Student Library. Collection of Poetry.1995
The Scarlet Letter. Bookworm Student Library. 1995. 10 illustrations
Frankenstein Bookworms Student Library 1995. 10 Illustrations
Collected works of Edgar Alan Poe. Bookworm Student Library. 1995. 10 Illustrations.
Little Women. Bookworm Student Library. 1995. 25 illustrations.
Newsweek August 1994. Article: Garage-Band Programmers. Page 50-51. Artwork I created for JumpRaven appeared in this issue.
Purgatory, Easton Press, 1993. Novel by Mike Resnick. Color frontispiece. Limited Leatherbound Edition.
"A Defense of a Social Contract" Science Fiction Age Magazine July 1993. Short Story by Martha Soukup. Color interior.
The Alteration, Easton Press, 1993. Novel by Sir Kingsley Amis. Color Frontispiece. Limited Leatherbound Edition
Published Work cont.
Merging Forever with the Dolowei" Amazing Stories Magazine, Short Story by Joyce K. Jenson. Interior color.
"Thy Kingdom Come" Science Fiction Age Magazine , May 1993. Short Story by Ben Bova. Interior Center Spread color.
"Fireballing" Amazing Stories Magazine, issue four, 1991. Short Story by Gary W. Herring. Interior color.
"Sunday Driver, Yeah" Amazing Stories Magazine , issue one, 1991. Short Story by A.J. Austin. Interior color.
"Time Enough" Amazing Stories Magazine , issue six, 1991. Short Story by Vivian Vande Veldi. Interior color.
Rite of Passage, Easton Press, 1991. Novel by Alexei Panshin. Color frontispiece. Limited Leatherbound Edition
A Roil of Stars , Baen Books, 1990. Novel by by Don Wismer. Color cover. Paperback.
Four for Tomorrow , Baen Books, 1990. Short story collection by Roger Zelazny. Wrap around color cover.
World Spirits, Baen Books, 1990. Novel by Aline Boucher Kaplan. Color cover. Paperback.
When the Black Lotus Blooms, Unnamable Press, 1990. Interior black and white illustration for the short story: Waygift by Gerald W. Page
Science Fiction Chronicle 1989. Color Cover.
DuneÆ: Eye of the StormTM - Published by Last Unicorn Games & Five Rings Publishing Group -based on the movie and Book: Dune -1998. Starterset plus 3 expansions.
"Lidless Eye", Lord of the Rings expansion, Iron Crown Enterprises -1997
"Kanchaka Valley" DragonStorm expansion - 1997
"Silent Impact" WOC expansion 2 for NetRunner. 1997
"Proteus" Wizards of the Coast expansion for NetRunner. 1997
"Towers in Time"- the Greek Edition, Thunder Castle Games 1997
"Fantasy Adventures" Mayfair Games, 1996
"Galactic Empires" - The Universe Edition, Companion Games - 1996
"DragonStorm" Gatekeeper Press - April, 1996
"Dragons" Lord of the Rings expansion, Iron Crown Enterprises - 1996
"Gridiron" Precedence Games - 1995
Passport to 39 Languages published by The Learning Company, 1999.
Learn to Speak German published by The Learning Company, 1999.
Reader Rabbit, published by The Learning Company, 1998.
Learn to Speak French, published by The Learning Company, 1998.
“Frankenstein”, “Edgar Allan Poe”, “Little Women”, “Making the Modern and After the Fire”, “The Scarlet Letter”, published by The Bookworm Student Library. 1995.
Learn to Speak Spanish, published by Hyperglot/The Learning Company. 1994
“JumpRaven”, (listed in IMDb)
“Viper” and “Dust” produced by Cyberflix and Paramount Interactive, 1992-1994.
Debbie is proud to be a member of the National Association of Women Artists, Inc., an organization that was created in 1889 to promote women in the arts and has represented women nationally as well as internationally. Debbie was inducted into this organization in November of 2019 and joins a distinguished and limited group of women artists.
Member of ASFA (Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists)
ASFA is a non-profit, educational 501(c)(3) association made up of artists, publishers, collectors and others with an interest in the genre.
Awards and Honors
Best in Show at numerous conventions which include ribbons and trophies. If you really want to know when and where, please let me know, I find it silly to mention.
Artist Guest of Honor at 14 Science Fiction Conventions since 1986.
1990 — AtomiCon
1990 — LibertyCon 4
1994 — DeepSouthCon 32
1995 — "Special Artist Guest" RiverCon XX
2000 — Parthecon
2000 — RiverCon XXV This was the final Rivercon and all previous guests were invited.
2001 — LibertyCon 15
2009 — Chattacon
Mainstream exhibits in Atlanta, Georgia, Nashville and Knoxville, TN, Washington, DC, Orlando, Florida and New York, NY.
Over 100 exhibits at various SF and Fantasy conventions in the US and abroad.
Additional links on Debbie Hughes