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by Martin Popoff
"I mean, referring back to Roger Dean for instance. And I don't think at the time he was doing these things, he had the faintest idea this was going to happen. Like, the painting for Close To The Edge, a collector bought it in the late '80s or early '90s for half a million dollars. And I've seen the original piece of art. It's a 12" by 24" little piece of watercolour. He didn't even have an airbrush back then, so he used spray cans. So it's not really the size or the look or whatever, it's just the value of it. I mean, all his paintings... I went to two exhibits of his. There was one he did in New York City recently, and then I went to one when I was in San Francisco a couple of years ago. I was there actually for an exhibit myself, and I went to a gallery that exclusively handles rock 'n' roll art, and they were exhibiting some of Roger Dean's paintings. And I swear to you, there's not a single thing of Roger Dean's that is under $100,000. And when I'm talking $100,000, I'm talking like a Budgie cover. When you're talking Asia or Yes, you're talking $300,000 to $700,000. As a matter of fact, the guy was telling me somebody sold his Picasso in Hawaii, to buy Roger Dean's cover of Tales Of Topographic Oceans, to purchase that. He's become an icon. But if you think about it, there are a million artists who came out of that era. I can name them off the top of my head, who haven't enjoyed his fame. But he really made his transition from an illustrator to a painter, and now, to a fine artist. And now he presents himself to galleries around the world as an icon of '70s record cover art. If you really think about it, there are only really two or three big bands he's done. The other bands he's done, we know, because we're music fans, but to the average guy, you say Gentle Giant or Uriah Heep, and they go, huh?"
So are you adopting that philosophy then? Are you going back to traditional painting? "Yes, I'm doing my own stuff, but again, I'm doing it for my own pleasure rather than for the sake of the agency. Knock on wood, but thank God, even in these tough times, the agency is doing quite well, Vivid. Because we've expanded into doing film posters and video games, all the other kinds of stuff, so we've got a healthy turnaround. So that's like my day gig, you know (laughs). Although, that is born from me being an illustrator. So in a funny reversal, what's happening is, launching Dangerous Age, which is only a few months old, is just doing gangbusters. That was a way to go back into doing that. Primarily, the reason I did it, and you know, the reason you write, is that you love the music. But it's a release, you know? You do it because, I remember telling my friends, even if I was pumping gas for a living, I'd still be painting. I mean, you do it because that's who you are. That's a part of you, you know? The fact that my life took a course where I can actually feed my family and pay my bills by doing that as a living? Christ, man, I think I'm one of the luckiest people in the world."
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