FanLit Asks: Why dragons?

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsI have spent many enjoyable hours perusing deviantART and have been known to purchase books of dragon art for my coffee tables. So, when I heard about DragonWorld, a fantasy art book that showcases 120 dragons from 49 international deviantART artists, I wanted one! I had a chance to look at a complete digital copy and am quite impressed with the quality of the art — it’s gorgeous. My husband and kids loved it, too. There are many styles represented — some frightening, some funny, some quirky — and I’m certain that we’ll be seeing some of these upcoming artists’ work on future fantasy book covers.

I wanted to know why these artists love to create dragons, so I asked a few of them. Here are their responses, along with a sample of their dragon creations. Click on the thumbnail images to see a larger version and click on the artist’s name to see more of that artist’s work at deviantART. To see more images from DragonWorld, visit the Amazon page by clicking on the book cover. We’ve got one copy of DragonWorld to give away. If you’d like one, just leave a nice comment below and we’ll enter you in the drawing. fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

William O’Connor: I think that the reason artists are so attracted to creating dragons is the universal nature of dragons. Every culture for thousands of years has been depicting dragons of one kind or another. Like a force of nature they are powerful, unpredictable, ancient and enigmatic. Possessing all the things that humans fear (serpents, predators, flying, smoke and fire), their very existence has come to symbolize the violence and randomness of life. Slaying a dragon, or harnessing this elemental power in art, has long been viewed as the ability to cope with death and fear itself. It boils down to the fact that since prehistoric times, people have always loved monster stories. On top of this is the aesthetic qualities of graceful lines, acrobatic movement, bright scales, and blazing flames that are fun to make as an artist!

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsNatalia Ponce Gutierrez: Dragons are epic and can be depicted in many ways. Their nature allows you a large degree of artistic freedom: dragons can be big, small, fierce, peaceful, red, black, they can breathe fire, fly, or live under the sea: the only limit is your imagination! As an artist, I think they can bring that epic feel to any picture. Their power and mysterious nature makes them very special inside the fantasy world and bestiary. It is also a creature that appears in many myths and legends around the world. As a mythology lover, I really enjoy depicting mythological scenes containing dragons and draconic creatures from ancient cultures.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsTiago da Silva: Well, since I was little I liked to draw fantasy themes, it’s a subject I like a lot, and also I used to read a lot of books about mythologies. It was a natural subject to draw dragons from time to time. While some people prefer to draw dragons as a destructive force, I like to see them, as the mythological creature they are, more in a positive way, the aspect that humans would have to tame them, speaking more on the western dragon. But in the dragon world I’m even more fascinated by the characteristics of the eastern dragon, the aspect of the wisdom and benevolence that people attribute to the creature. So with that said I like to explore and represent some of those aspects in my paintings.

All images used with permission.

We’ve got one copy of DragonWorld to give away. If you’d like one, just leave a nice comment below and we’ll enter you in the drawing.

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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  1. The pictures look amazing, and out of the three artists features in this post, I have to say that Tiago de Silva’s style is the most appealing to me. There’s the Oriental twist which I appreciate, and it’s nice to see a dragon without wings once in a while (which can still fly! Amazing!)

  2. Utheran /

    I love dragons! The pictures look amazing.

  3. I love dragons too and I must say, your site is beautiful.

    Which dragons I like best depends on the story. I love the genetically engineered dragons of Anne McCaffrey (especially as depicted in the cover art), but so many different fantasy stories have their own interpretations. As you said, some are frightening, funny, intelligent and so on.

  4. There’s something so majestic about dragons too. Not to mention whether or not they’re good or bad (depending on the author or artist). I love dragons in art too in other words.

  5. The book has so many more dragons that I would love to include here! ALL of the art is amazing.

  6. I would love a copy! I am on DeviantArt every now and then just to browse some of the great stuff out there. And of course…I love dragons!!!

  7. As far back as I can remember, any fantasy themed picture immediately caught my eye to include, sci-fi like starships or futuristic cities. But as I’ve gotten older, I’m more drawn to illustrations of dragons or castles, or better yet both.
    As I’ve grown into adulthood ( agreed that is a questionable statement, I won’t deny), technology has been advancing on turbodrive. So I don’t find the Sci-fi pictures as fascinating now. The sense of wonder is not there anymore, because they’re more like reality.
    Dragons will always be fantastical, (unless someone digs-up a real one). They’re like a symbol of natural wonder, but not in the way that amazing wild life, or a beautiful landscape are. The origins of those phenomenons can be scientifically explained. I think dragons are like the mythological legends that many of us wish so much to be true because, they would prove that magic is real.

  8. Looks awesome! But where’s Trogdor? :D

  9. I have an answer, because if done correctly, a dragon can be beautiful and terrifying.

  10. SandyG265 /

    I love the pictures. I like dragons because there are so many different depictions of tehm.

  11. Love DeviantArt and love dragons! Oh please enter me. This looks beautiful!

  12. Sabrina /

    This book looks really cool! I am eager to see more of the dragons.

    I found William O’Connor’s comment very interesting about dragons “possessing all the things that humans fear (serpents, predators, flying, smoke and fire)”. I guess it is a good thing that they aren’t part spider too! ;)

  13. Some great artwork there. I’ve been collecting dragons for ages, And my two favorite artists are Pena and Michael Whelan. Loved his dragons for McCaffery and Melanie Rawn. I will have to find a copy of the book so I can see more. Thanks for letting us know it’s out there

  14. April V. /

    I could look at dragon art all day long! Thank you very much for sharing this and offering one commenter the opportunity to win a copy. I’m sure it would be a wonderful thing to own – to be able to flip through and enjoy dragons any time you wanted!

  15. We love dragons in our house! Thanks for the contest.

  16. Alexander M. Fierro /

    Dragons are universal. I truly feel that they are the ONE “mythological/magical” creature that everyone worldwide may enjoy. They inspire and awe innumerous individuals(myself definitively included), transcending gender and age stereotypes, among others. Not necessarily beasts, dragons exist in human form within martial artists, artists, musicians, writers and actors. You may claim dragons don’t exist, and technically they may not physically be present in reality. However, I feel that there is a dragon in every person, (whether they are willing to admit it or not); some lay dormant and undiscovered, while in others the essence of the dragon is harnessed, expressed & embraced.
    From Mortal Kombat to restaurants, dragons have been part of American pop culture forever, and I am willing to bet that they will be forever more, as they are a positive symbol of mystery & majesty to all.
    Around the world, dragons are evident in copious cultures, nearly always revered. They are carved into statues, sewn into garments, and used as logos/insignias.
    Why dragons you ask? Why NOT dragons is my question, as I cannot honestly think of anyone I have ever met who has an aversion to dragons. Indeed, I challenge you all to delve the depths of your memories and assess whether you have ever met anyone who didn’t appreciate dragons in any of their infinite forms…

  17. Oooh, this looks great!
    I think it’s the mix of such awesome power and beauty with sentience that makes dragons so uniquely fun in the world of fantasy. But I have an entire essay about it at my blog on fantasy (and block printing) : ,a href=””>Why Dragons Are Cool.

  18. Hmm… I messed up my link to the post inquestion. Here it is, “Why Dragons Are Cool”:
    (Sorry for the double post.)

  19. Congratulations, Sandy G. You won the drawing.

    If you live in the USA, you win a copy of Dragonworld (or a different book of your choice from our stacks). Please contact me (Tim) with your choice and a US address.

  20. We love dragons because dragons are more then just a creature, they represent everything we want to believe in as humens. Magic, wisdom, power, and most of all, humans battleing something so awsom and comming out on top saddleing us with the intoxicating notion that anyone can be a hero.

  21. Nice recognised the cover art immediately :) will have to get a copy once i get my student loans through ^_^ Find myself constantly referring William O’Connor’s Dracopedia and Jessica Peffers how to draw dragons books.

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