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Friday Spotlight with Dean Harkness

October 14, 2011

Dean Harkness bio picIn the Friday spotlight this week we have multi-talented Dean Harkness guest blogging for us. For those of you who do not know Dean, he lives in the South East of England and worked for many years as a portrait artist and sculptor. Having always had a passion for literature in all its forms, he decided on a career change and moved seamlessly into cover design and illustration.

Hello bloggy-heads!

Thanks to DC for her generosity and efforts in managing and hosting these spotlight opportunities – another great aspect to blogging that I am only just becoming aware of. And thanks too to Kelly Gamble for her support and encouragement. And to all the wonderfully positive and creative people I have met on Twitter – they are an inspiration in themselves!

So where to begin? Well that’s easy: Books! Books! Books! And of course, books!

And why books? Well that’s easy too: Words! Language! Meaning! Invention, description, explanation, emotion and understanding.

We are words. Language is what defines us as a species, a race and as individuals. Words can separate us, but more importantly, they can connect us. I am a groupie for words. I don’t have a favourite genre of writing – Rudyard Kipling and Jeff Noon blow my mind in equal measure, as can a biography or book on maths or history. If I do have a favourite genre then it’s the genre of books that comes under the heading of ‘well written’.

A book, or even a sentence, can turn your world upside-down and inside out. It can confirm all you ever suspected or make you doubt all you thought you knew.

One day I may write a book, which isn’t something I thought I’d ever be able to say, but seeing as I’ve had a very unconventional life and have a lot to draw on, from living in a house with 10 lesbians for 3 years to being a roadie with the Rolling Stones to tearing around with an outlaw motorcycle gang for the best part of a decade, I feel that the starting of that book is getting closer all the time. But until then I’ll stick to what I know and love, and that’s book covers and illustrations, which keep me in good proximity to the writing process and have led me to writing more now than ever. I have always dabbled with writing, poetry mostly, and diaries too, but these days, what with social networks, I seem to be always writing!

One ambition I have is to illustrate an entire book, rather than just doing one or two illustrations to accompany a story. One of my earliest inspirations for that genre of art was the illustrations by Mervyn Peake, who did the original drawings for Alice In Wonderland, and for Treasure Island, which are more often than not, not what people remember or know of those stories. His visions are striking, compelling and superbly executed. He also wrote The Gormenghast Trilogy, an amazing novel full of rich description and wonderfully clear characterisations of the most idiosyncratic personalities.

This is the first cover I ever made

Cover Artist Dean Harkness

The cost of materials was £75 and it took between 200 and 300 hours to complete. I was paid the princely sum of £75 for the work and so made nothing doing it. But it was an amazing learning experience and a foot in the door so-to-speak. I had never done any woodwork but the first thing I had to do was construct the display case. After that I modelled and sculpted many of the items within it. Then came the photography, and finally the layout. That was about 7 years ago, and since then I try to make at least a little profit on the work I do 😉

I have always worked for small presses and indie authors and I love the personal touch that tends to come with each project and the friendships that often develop out of them. I get the impression that with the bigger publishing companies, the author often has no say at all about what goes on the cover, and I have heard of many examples where they are not exactly pleased with what the publishers decided upon. I think that authors should indeed have some say about what their book ends up looking like and I love the fact that for the most part it is the authors themselves that I work with. Really, what could be better!

Here are my latest two illustrations

Red Rock Cover Illustration by Dean Harkness

Artwork by Dean Harkness

So keep those thoughts whirring and pens scribbling and keyboards clacking.

I’ll be ready and waiting!


Thank you so much for a fab guest post, Dean.  These illustrations are incredible! Now, before you go, I feel compelled to ask a two-part bonus question. Here goes.

Q. First, do you have any super hot nude illustrations, and second, would you be willing to share a few of those super hot nude illustrations?

A. Sure. Not the full frontal ones though as some might be offended.

Claire in Acrylics by Dean Harkness

The Kick by Dean Harkness

Jo Crop by Dean Harkness

You are crazy talented, Dean. And please don’t worry about offending people on this blog. People who are easily offended can go fuck themselves.

Well then,

Old Dyke by Dean Harkness

Happy Bi-day by Dean Harkness

Holy shit,  I love Friday Spotlights so much. Bi the way, I now want a licorice thong.  And a chocolate cock.


Dear readers, there are several avenues through which you may stalk Dean online. I suggest you look him up under all of the following links:

13 Comments leave one →
  1. deansky permalink
    October 14, 2011 11:11 am

    Heehee! Thanks so much for spotlighting me DC. You’re licorice thong and chocolate willy are in the post!

    • October 14, 2011 11:41 pm

      I cannot wait! Great guest blog, Dean, and thank you so much! Please come back any time.

  2. October 14, 2011 12:26 pm

    Crazy talented! I love your love of words. I don’t necessarily have a favorite genre to read, as I just like anything that is well written, too. AND, I can do that middle pose (probably not, but maybe). We were destined to become friends. Wonderful to start my day reading more about you.

    • deansky permalink
      October 14, 2011 8:05 pm

      Thanks Kelly – I broke my guest blog cherry! It was fun and DC helped a lot to jazz it up a bit too, which was needed :o)

  3. deansky permalink
    October 14, 2011 12:57 pm

    Hee! Thanks so much for this DC. You’re licorice thong and chocolate willy are in the post 😉

  4. October 14, 2011 3:27 pm

    Love the guest blog, Dean! You’re so remarkably talented. 🙂 And DC…really. I’m in stitches!

    • October 14, 2011 5:51 pm

      I do what I can 😉

    • deansky permalink
      October 14, 2011 8:06 pm

      Thank you Raine – it means a lot that you read it – really appreciate that 🙂

  5. October 14, 2011 8:52 pm

    A lovely first guest blog Dean. I was wondering how the book cover above had been put together. I’m stunned that you constructed the display case and sculpted some of the things on there – remarkable that you manage to combine so many talents, something I would love to be able to do. It was really interesting to read about some of your life experiences too – I can only imagine what it must have been like living in a house with 10 lesbians… actually, no I can’t. 🙂 Carry on doing what you’re doing – it’s all fab!

    • deansky permalink
      October 15, 2011 5:13 am

      Thanks Abi! Living with 10 lesbians when I was 18 – 21 years old was a hoot and one of those times in my life that I often think back to as being very formative. They were crazy times. So much of much has been crazy times 😉

  6. October 15, 2011 2:55 am

    OMG, wonderful artwork, Dean…and some deliciously saucy images too! I’m never disappointed when I visit DC’s blog. And I’m so happy to see Dean here. A great combo for a Friday night…hey, did someone say something about a chocolate cock? Was that a chocolate cake cock? 🙂 Just wondering…

    • deansky permalink
      October 15, 2011 5:17 am

      Thank you Erica. DC’s blogs are a blast aren’t they! Two days after reading your post with all the cock-cakes I got an email from a friend in Sweden who had also just made one. Talk about synchronicity! I had no idea she even made them – I did of course have to show her your blog so she could get some inspiration – she hasn’t stopped baking since!


  1. My post for D.C. McMillen’s guest spot. «

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