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Keith Parkinson


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Keith Parkinson (Fantasy)
Keith Parkinson (Fantasy)
Keith Parkinson (Fantasy)
Keith Parkinson (Fantasy)
Keith Parkinson (Fantasy)
Keith Parkinson (Fantasy)
Keith Parkinson (Fantasy)
Keith Parkinson (Fantasy)
Keith Parkinson (Fantasy)
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Information about Keith Parkinson

Keith Parkinson (October 22, 1958 (62 years ago) - Oct. 26, 2005 (15 years ago)) was an American fantasy artist and illustrator known for book cover and game artwork for games such as EverQuest (3 walls), Magic: The Gathering and Vanguard: Saga of Heroes.

Early life

Keith Parkinson was born in West Covina, California, although with his father doing corporate work for GMAC, the family moved to San Diego, New York, Miami, and Lansing, Michigan during his childhood. Parkinson took an interest in science fiction from an early age, combining this with artistic interests, “As a kid, I was in love with spaceships. I collected posters and did lots of spaceship drawings.” However, by age twelve, he became more insterested in music than art, “I got involved with a rock & roll band in high school, and played semi-professionally all the way through high school and into college. For several years, my band toured on weekends. We were into heavy metal, and played stuff by Blue Öyster Cult, Rush, Led Zeppelin, and other heavy metal monster groups.” At one gig, Parkinson met his future wife, Mary, who later became the Dragon Magazine Advertising Coordinator, and they had a son, Nicholas.

Parkinson identified Frank Frazetta and Roger Dean as the artists who would most heavily influence his own fantasy work. Parkinson graduated from Kendall College of Art and Design in 1980 (40 years ago). His first job was with a company called Advertising Posters, where he worked on the artwork for pinball games and many early arcade games, including Tron and Krull. “One of the guys in the camera room was a D&D player, and got me into the game. The first night I played a ranger in B1, Keep on the Borderlands, and I was hooked. We played every week.” In Nov. 1982 (38 years ago), he went to work at TSR, Inc., “I didn’t like a lot of the art I saw on D&D game products, and the company was in Lake Geneva, just over the border, so I drove up one day to see if I could do some freelance work. Elmore, Jeff Easley, and Tim Truman had all just joined the company, and the art they were working on was fantastic. It really blew my mind. Jim Roslof, who was the Art Director, hinted that I could join the staff full-time, but I missed the hint. A few days later, I called him about a job, and he had just hired somebody else the day before, but he’d keep me in mind. The next day, he called back, and had an opening.” He worked on projects including book covers, game boxes, magazines and calendars. Among his book covers are such titles as Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms and Gamma World.

After five years of working at TSR, Parkinson left and pursued a freelance career for seven years. During this time, most of Keith's work was painting covers for the New York publishing market. His clients included Bantam Books, Palladium Books, Penguin Books, and Random House. Best-selling authors that he painted covers for include Terry Goodkind, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, and Terry Brooks to name a few.

Game work

In 1995 (25 years ago), Parkinson's first attempt at game design, Guardians, was published by FPG. Many other artists worked with him on the project. FPG also published Keith's first book, titled Knightsbridge: The Art of Keith Parkinson. He also published two other books containing his artwork in and around 2004 (16 years ago): a sketchbook, Spellbound, and a second full-colour artbook titled King's Gate. Other works from this time include a set of art trading cards, and a screensaver produced by Second Nature Software.

In 2000 (20 years ago), Parkinson devoted more of his time to writing and shifted his commercial art focus to the game industry. He produced art for THQ's Summoner, and painted the well-known artwork for the original EverQuest (3 walls), as well as its first three expansion packs. In painting the box art, he also created Firiona Vie, who has adorned the cover of every expansion since. During this time, he became a close friend of Brad McQuaid.

Through his friendship and reputation with EverQuest (3 walls) designers Brad McQuaid and Jeff Butler, Keith Parkinson was hired as the art director and a cofounder at Sigil Games Online. He worked there on the MMORPG Vanguard: Saga of Heroes until the time of his death in late 2005 (15 years ago). Parkinson fell ill before he could create the box art for Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, but he did paint the game's three 'mascot' characters: Jeric, Eila, and Idara. At the 2006 (14 years ago) E3 Expo, the Vanguard: Saga of Heroes box art was revealed. According to Brad McQuaid, when Keith knew he would not be able to finish the box art for Vanguard, it was his wish for Donato Giancola, a friend of his, to paint the box art in his place. The left part of Donato's painting was painted to emulate Parkinson's personal style as a tribute to him. As the painting goes to the right (the left is used for the box art, similar to EverQuest (3 walls)), it transitions into Giancola's style. As a further tribute to Keith Parkinson, Giancola painted a character resembling him into the painting.


After a long battle with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML), Keith Parkinson died on 26 Oct. 2005 (15 years ago). He is survived by his wife, Donna, and sons Nick and Zach. Parkinson was described by his friends and coworkers (and in the eulogy by Brad McQuaid) as having had a true passion for his work, as well as a friendly and positive demeanor until the end.


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