Category Archives: Visual Inspiration

Visual Inspiration: Sam Hogg

Visual Inspiration: Sam Hogg

My readers know that I am an enthusiast of rich well-imagined worldbuilding. So when I stumbled across the work of artist and writer Sam Hogg, it’ll come as no surprise that I found myself enthralled. Her concept work is excellent, but I’ve become a bit obsessed with her high-fantasy project, The Whaler Girl.

This is visual worldbuilding at its best. Hogg captures and constructs a rich tapestry of a setting and inhabits it with fully imagined places, creatures, and characters. It’s something I strive for in my work, and here it feels so effortless which only makes it more enthralling and inspiring. These locations and characters don’t come across as templates, they feel like real people, and we can see hints of their story playing throughout the work. The sense of place is palpable and the shifts in style only cement that further, we’re exploring a world after all and worlds are not limited to a single style. As I moved through the project I found myself eager to learn more. I want to know all about Eidy’s story, and Saul’s troubles, and how a young whaler girl from Varlsbeyn ended up as a pirate courtesan. You will too.

With Sam Hogg’s permission, I’ve shared a few of my favorite pieces below. (Honestly, it was really difficult choosing, for each of these there were at least four more.) You can click on any image to view it larger.

This is just a small fraction of The Whaler Girl. You can see much more of the world and Hogg’s work on her website. Be sure to join me in following her on Twitter. Don’t forget to follow her excellent Instagram account, not only does she share work frequently, but it’s also often accompanied by evocative vignettes that only adds to the depth and richness of the story. Finally, you can buy prints of all this work from her store and hang the world of The Whaler Girl on your walls.


If you like Sam Hogg’s work, be sure to check out some of the other artists who I’ve found inspiring in the past. While there’s certainly a theme to the art that inspires me, you’ll find lots of different styles, tones, and moods.

Visual Inspiration: Marilyn Mugot

Visual Inspiration: Marilyn Mugot

The urban landscape has long been a fascination of mine. Lovat—the central city in my Bell Forging Cycle—is my own love letter to the city form with its allure and optimism and the gritty shadows cast by those glowing ideals. Those contrasting juxtapositions are what makes the urban environment so appealing. I love the spaces between spaces, the often ignored corners where lives are lived, and the drama of humanity is played out. Whenever I find an artist who can capture that essence, I find that it enlivens me creatively.


“I strive to create a visual universe where fantasies, dreams and travels come together. Landscapes at night exacerbates a specific contemplative feeling which has encouraged me to create a new, obscure and sparkling world full of secrets and mystery.”

—Marilyn Mugot


So, it’ll come as no surprise that I’m an enormous fan of Marilyn Mugot’s photography, in particular, her Night Project series and much of the work she shares on her Instagram account. She excels at finding those small places and capturing them from angles that make me dwell on the city and its impact on our lives. There’s a beauty inherent within the urban environment, and in each of her pieces, Margot encapsulates those spaces with a cinematic quality, a touch of the surreal, and a subtle tenderness.

I’ve shared a few of my favorite pieces below. You can click on any image to view it larger.

This is just a tiny sample of Mugot’s work. I’d encourage you to check out her Venus’ Gardens series where she brings her iconic use of color to the natural world. It’s stunning stuff. You can see much more on her website, and I’d encourage you to follow her on Instagram as well. If you’re looking to purchase any of her pieces, you can buy prints from her online store.


If you like Marilyn Mugot’s work, be sure to check out some of the other artists who I’ve found inspiring in the past. While there’s certainly a theme to the art that inspires me, you’ll find lots of different styles, tones, and moods.

Visual Inspiration: Brian Coldrick

Visual Inspiration: Brian Coldrick

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with Chris Van Allsburg’s The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. It’s a book that contained a series of images, each was accompanied by a few lines of text that sent one’s imagination soaring. These small one-shot scenarios were fascinating to a younger-me and were often more imaginative than many of the novels I’ve read in later years. I’ve thought about them often over the years.

So, imagine how delighted I was when I stumbled across the art of Irish-illustrator and sloth-enthusiast Brian Coldrick and his unsettling series Behind You. These single-shot stories follow a similar method to Burdick but the stories themselves skew towards the modern horror or creepypasta—and damn, are they ever compelling.

Behind You is extensive—there are so many pieces it’s difficult to pick a favorite and the series is still ongoing. The loose style and muted colors work remarkably well, blending the fantastic with the realistic and letting the narrative fill in the spaces in between. You’ll find yourself enthralled.

If the static illustration wasn’t enough, Behind You now includes subtle animations as well, which only further each pieces’ effectiveness. You can see a few of my favorites below, click on any image to view it larger. Or just start at the beginning.

That’s only a tiny portion of the entire series and you should take some time and explore the narratives. Recently, many of these images have been collected into the book Behind You: One-Shot Horror Stories, which I recommend buying (link takes you to Amazon, but I’m sure you can get it all over the place.) As I mentioned above, Behind You is still ongoing and can be viewed at Tapastic or Tumblr. Making cool art isn’t free—Coldrick has a Patreon (of which I’m a member) and I’d encourage you to throw a few bucks his way so he can keep making these delightful terrors. You can buy prints of his work from Society6. Finally, be sure to follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Deviant Art, and Instagram.


If you like Brian Coldrick’s work be sure to check out some of the other artists who I’ve found inspiring in the past. While there’s certainly a theme to the art that inspires me, you’ll find lots of different styles, tones, mediums, and moods.


Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. AlexanderWant to stay in touch with me? Sign up for Dead Drop, my rare and elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. I work hard to make sure it’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information.  SIGN UP TODAY →

Visual Inspiration: Filip Dujardin

Visual Inspiration: Filip Dujardin

Often when I share an artist that’s been inspiring to me, it’s usually someone who works as a concept artist. Today’s entry will be a bit of a departure from that. Filip Dujardin is a Belgian photographer who manipulates photos of architecture and cityscapes to create beautiful photomontage works that question the notion of architected spaces.


“I want to play at being an architect. All my creations leave the impression that they could have been built, it’s just that you’ve never seen them.”

—Filip Dujardin


In many ways, I think of my own work—and Lovat in particular—as a love letter to cities. Even if it’s just tangentially. There’s something fascinating about the constructed spaces and interactions that happen within. I love the optimistic concept of the city and the unpleasant realities that dwell in the shadow of that idealism. I find those juxtapositions beautiful. Many of those same themes are present in Dujardin’s work, in particular, his Fictions series. The interplay of form and function both natural and unnatural are warped and distorted, and it gives me pause as a viewer. I’m forced to reflect on the nature of urban environments and our interplay with them as occupants—what they mean, what they remove, how they shape us, and how they distort our experiences and change our perceptions.

I’ve selected some of my favorites below. Click to view them larger.

This is just a tiny sample of Filip Dujardin extensive body of work. You can see much more in his book Fictions and over on his website. (Be sure to check out his Guimaraes series.) If you’re looking to purchase any of his pieces, many are available online at Artspace.com.


If you like Filip Dujardin’s work be sure to check out some of the other artists who I’ve found inspiring in the past. While there’s certainly a theme to the art that inspires me, you’ll find lots of different styles, tones, and moods.


Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. AlexanderWant to stay in touch with me? Sign up for Dead Drop, my rare and elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. I work hard to make sure it’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information.  SIGN UP TODAY →

Sebastien Ecosse

Visual Inspiration: Sebastien Ecosse

Recently, as I’ve been ramping up my research for Book IV of the Bell Forging Cycle, I came across the work of illustrator Sebastien Ecosse. It’s no secret that I’m a fan of genre and concept art, longtime readers will immediately understand why Ecosse’s work stands out for me.

I was first drawn in by his landscapes, his cityscapes in particular. They’re layered, rich, and beautifully textured. Places of light and shadows. You can almost feel the humid air against your skin, smell the mix of bizarre aromas, and hear the tapestry of sounds echoing throughout. In many ways, they could be cousins to the megalopolis of Lovat from my novels. With his other work, Ecosse manages to capture a sense of foreboding and dread that lends itself well to horror—in particular, his Lovecraftian work. I’ve posted some of my favorites below, as always you can click to view them larger.

Ecosse has prints available for purchase, and you can see much more of his work over on his website: sebastienecosse.com. You can also find him on ArtStation and Deviant Art. Be sure to check him out on Facebook or over follow him over on Twitter. Perhaps, like me, you’ll find yourself inspired.

💀 🎨 💀


If you like Sebastien Ecosse’s work be sure to check out some other illustrators and concept artists I’ve shared in the past:


Zhichao Cai

Visual Inspiration: Zhichao Cai

I’ve been ramping up my research for The Bell Forging Cycle, Book IV and while browsing through my Pinterest boards, I kept coming across the work of Chinese illustrator Zhichao Cai also known as Trylea. Since I found his work inspiring, I figured it’d be worth it to take a moment and share some of my favorite pieces with you.

When it comes to mood boards, I tend to like grimy and dank cityscapes occasionally interrupted with bright splashes of neon. So my eye is always drawn to pieces that show clusters of humanity. Trylea’s work has that, but it also differs significantly. It’s mainly due to his use of color. Even his densely packed cities are awash with a vibrancy that captures a unique and frenetic energy—it makes his work stand out, and his pieces serve as a good reminder that even in concept art we don’t need everything to be grim.

I included a small gallery of some of my favorite work below.

You can check out much more of Trylea’s work on his Zcool page, that seems to be where he shares most of his work. He also posts high-resolution versions as well as some process shots. It’s worth spending some time on his page. You can also find him on Behance, and he has some work on Art Station. If you’re not a member of any of those sites, I encourage you to join and give Trylea a follow.


If you like Zhichao Cai’s work be sure to check out some other illustrators and concept artists I’ve shared in the past: