Peter Thorpe Bio
While attending an exchange program at Lincoln College, Oxford, studying art and literature, he met Pauline Baynes, the artist who was best known for illustrating The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis and The Tolkien Reader by J. R. R. Tolkien. Baynes encouraged Peter to pursue his interests in illustration. He continued his art studies in the fall of 1976 at the California College of Arts and Crafts, graduating in 1980 with a bachelor of art. Commercial art was his major.
Always interested in art and design, Peter started drawing and painting at an early age and was doing illustrations for New Orleans Magazine by the time he was eighteen. During his college years in California, he worked as a freelance illustrator for various publishers and ad agencies in the San Francisco Bay Area.
After college, Peter moved to New York City, where he continued to do illustration. By his second year in Manhattan, he was doing book cover jobs almost exclusively. He found that having a penchant for type design, as well as for illustration, allowed him to offer both of these services to book publishers, who often had to job out the design of a book cover to one person, while jobbing out the illustration to another.
He enjoyed early success with jobs from St. Martin's Press, Viking Penguin, and Harper & Row. For Viking, he did the cover of Frederick Forsyth's The Fourth Protocol in 1984 and Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon Days in 1985, both number one best sellers. During the 15 years that he spent in Manhattan, he established himself as a book cover designer who specialized in mysteries, Americana and espionage. He did cover series for Warner Books (Larry Bond, Ross Thomas, Elizabeth Peters, Harold Adams), Harper & Row (Desmond Bagley, Hammond Innes, Len Deighton, Fred Harris), St. Martin's Press (Gregory Bean, Laura Crum), Doubleday (Daniel Easterman) and Random House (Thomas Perry).
Over the years, he has created covers for such varied authors as Nelson Algren, Desmond Bagley, John Calvin Batchelor, William Bernhardt, Terry Bisson, David Cole, Peter DeVries, Michael Dobbs, Daniel Easterman, Thomas Fleming, John Fuller, Michael Gannon, Wendy Hornsby, M. T. Kelly, Brad Linaweaver, Jack London, Walter M. Miller, Jr., Joseph Monninger, Gerard K. O'Neill, Rick Tumlinson, Sharon Kaye Penman, Scott Rice, Dana Stabenow, John Trenhaile, Cay Van Ash and Judith Van Gieson.
But it was in 1986 that he got his first Tony Hillerman manuscript, Skinwalkers, from Harper & Row. Hillerman writes mysteries about the present day Navajo Reservation. By using Navajo sand paintings as his guide, Peter developed a simple graphic style for the Hillerman covers that incorporated mystery elements along with Native American graphics. The look worked and to date he has done over 40 editions of Hillerman's mysteries, including novels, edited collections, omnibuses, box editions, back title paperbacks and a Hillerman Country Map. In doing so, Peter, who is one sixteenth Native American (Cherokee), has been able to find a connection to a part of his ancestry.
In 1998 he moved to North Carolina, a state he knew well. His parents had retired to Pinehurst years earlier, and he had attended camp as a boy in the Smoky Mountains. He now lives in those mountains, in downtown Asheville, and runs his design studio out of a historic 1920s hotel called The Asheville Hotel.
His life long love of space science led him to the position of Creative Director for the Space Frontier Foundation from 1988 to 2008. His Rocket Paintings have been collected by many in the space advocacy community, and are in the collections of such authors as Spider and Jeanne Robinson, Ben Bova, Andrew Chaikin and Vanna Bonta. He designs several web sites, including the website for actress Julia Meade, America's first 'household name,' an interactive tribute site for illustrator Pauline Baynes, and also the website for actor David Manners, a site he manages with author John Norris and devoted to their late friend, David Manners, a Hollywood leading man of the 1930s who starred in such classics as Dracula, The Black Cat, The Mummy, Roman Scandals and Mystery of Edwin Drood.
Peter's artwork has appeared in Communication Arts and Print Magazine, and his paintings have been shown at The Society of Illustrators and the Art Director's Club. He continues to do book covers, including covers for Mary Daheim's Alpine series, published by Random House, and the Wendy Hornsby and Laura Crum mysteries for Perseverance Press. Other current projects include the logo for the documentary We Won't Bow Down, about the New Orleans Black Indians, and his Rocket Painting series, with prints and originals available from Novaspace.
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