Boris Vallejo is well-known for his paintings in the genres of fantasy and erotic art. Both alone and together with his wife Julie Bell, his images of muscular heroes have appeared almost everywhere.
Vallejo was born in Lima, Peru in 1941. He began painting at the age of thirteen and showed enough early talent to land a job as an illustrator at age sixteen. Although he toyed with the ideas of being a concert violinist or doctor, his future clearly lay in art. He attended the National School of Fine Arts in Peru, winning high praise and a Gold Medal for his excellent work.
Boris dreamt of success on a scale that his native country could not accommodate. For that reason, he assembled a portfolio of his paintings and emigrated to the United States at the age of 23. With no friends, just a few dollars and a wealth of talent, the artist managed to overcome great odds. His first job was as an illustrator for the advertising department of a major retail chain. It was there he met his first wife, whom he later divorced after having two children.
The sight of a heroic woman fighting a prehistoric monster on a comic book cover changed the course of Vallejo's life. Fantasy art provided a way to combine his interest in the human body (particularly its muscular structure) and painting. He began to hone his technique and craft his unique fantasy erotic vision. Some measure of success came quickly, and his art soon graced covers for Marvel Comics, Warren Publications and Skywald Publishing.
Over the next two decades, Boris Vallejo produced stunning fantasy art for movie posters, advertisements, calendars and collectibles. His work has appeared on hundreds of paperback covers, and he is known for his illustrations of many well-known fantasy characters, including Tarzan, Conan the Barbarian and Doc Savage. Through the years several collections of Boris' work have been published in book form, including The Fantasy Art of Boris Vallejo, Fantasy Art Techniques, Mirage, and Dreams: The Art of Boris Vallejo.
In Vallejo's art there are a variety of influences. He has an almost classical sense of painting, and acknowledges many famous painters including Vermeer, Rembrandt, and da Vinci. His erotic art is thus highly concerned with form and technique. His interest in the human body, and bodybuilding, is reflected in his hyper-representational images of men and women in naked or semi-nude glory. He has also been inspired by such heavyweights of the fantasy art world as Frank Frazetta.
Oil paint on board is Boris' chosen medium, another nod to the classic masters. He is extremely deft at using oil to create depth, feeling and sensuality, producing paintings that are strikingly vivid. Although he has dabbled with digital media and recombining painted images, he claims to have no desire to abandon oil-painting.
The primary subjects in Vallejo paintings are muscular heroes and heroines displaying savage sensuality. They battle, ride or cavort with beasts from Greek myth, some future time or Boris' own imagination. Toned women wield weapons both primitive and futuristic. The artist's wife often serves as a model, lending her own muscular form to the paintings.
Boris Vallejo has pushed the boundaries of fantasy art and raised the standards in the genre. His impact has been broadly felt, with numerous younger artists listing him as a primary influence.
Current / Recent Activity
In the mid-90s Boris married for the second time, this time to body-builder Julie Bell, whose own interest and skills in fantasy art blossomed through the relationship. Bell has served as constant companion, work-out partner, model and collaborator for Vallejo. Their works often appear together and their reputations have become intertwined. "Boris and Julie" have become a famous couple in the world of fantasy and erotic art.
Boris Vallejo currently lives and works with his wife Julie Bell in Pennsylvania. They continue to paint and sell work, both originals and reproductions, through their website. They also maintain a blog called Paint and Brush, where they detail their comings and goings and provide interesting commentary on their own work, both past and present.
- cover illustrations for hundreds of paperbacks, including Tarzan, Conan the Barbarian and Doc Savage.
- numerous Hollywood movie posters, including Barbarella, Barbarian Queen, National Lampoon's Vacation , European Vacation , and Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters.
- several compilations of works, including The Fantasy Art of Boris Vallejo, Mirage and Dreams: The Art of Boris Vallejo.
- Locus Award for best Art Book, for The Fabulous Women of Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell.