Chris Achilleos is a highly accomplished painter and illustrator whose work in the fantasy and erotica genres is recognized worldwide.
Achilleos was born in 1947 on the island of Cyprus and enjoyed a childhood of rural mischief. Without much pop culture, besides the epic films shown at the open-air cinema where his father was the projectionist, he and his friends created their own entertainment, staging elaborate battles between legendary foes as well as hunting and fishing in the countryside.
At age twelve, Chris’ mother moved herself and her four children away from the violence and turmoil of Cyprus and to London, England. Alone and isolated in a new land and new culture, the young boy turned to solitary pursuits such as art. His imagination was particularly captured by comics. Besides being fascinated by the fantastical images, Chris found these comic books an excellent source of education in the English language. Inspired by the likes of Heros the Spartan, the boy began reproducing scenes from his own imagination with whatever art materials he could scrounge up, including wrapping paper donated from the kind local butcher.
The world of his imagination was sometimes at odds with his ‘real’ work and studies. As a student in Art College, Achilleos refined the techniques that would later lead him to success, but he showed only a passing interest in his assignments. His real passion emerged at night, when he would paint huge scenes from the world of Conan. He worked tirelessly to create an impressive portfolio of fantasy art that would help him secure the type of work he loved.
It worked. His inquiries at Tandem Books and Brian Boyle Associates proved fruitful, and soon the young man was doing book covers for a great variety of series in the science fiction, horror and fantasy genres. Soon enough he was also busy working in the advertising industry, which paid well enough to support his young family.
Another important artistic development came with a request from Men Only, a British erotic magazine similar to Playboy. They asked Achilleos to do glamour illustrations, works which have since become collectors items in the erotic art world. Soon enough, the artist had reached a level of success in the fantasy art world that allowed him to give up advertising commissions and focus on his imaginative works.
The best work of Achilleos calls to mind the excellence and dynamism of one of the artist’s greatest influences: Frank Frazetta. His erotic works combine sensuality with imagination and feature hybrid creatures from mythical pasts as well as more modern erotica. There is an obvious penchant for fetishism, and his leather-clad crop-bearing female figures are charged with that special mixture of danger and sexuality.
These works are characterized by a very powerful sense of the dramatic. In his own words: “There is a tale to be told in each of my works. The paintings itself is no more than a photograph, capturing barely a moment of that tale. My job is – through dramatic composition of the scene I have chosen – to provide the viewer with a glimpse of the entire story; what has happened so far and what will happen next.” This sense of drama is a quality we often see in the finest illustrators who have been inspired by and worked with fantasy comics and books and it makes his fantasy pinup works highly compelling.
The art of Chris Achilleos has been made widely available in book form with the publication of four major volumes. The titles provide an excellent indication of the artist’s favored subjects: Beauty and the Beast (1978), Sirens (1986), Medusa (1988) and Amazona (2004). A young artist in the production office of Lucasfilm Ltd. showed one of these books to George Lucas himself, which led to work as a conceptual artist on the movie Willow. His other film credits include work with the cult classic Heavy Metal, Clash of the Titans, and Blade Runner.
It is almost impossible to detail every aspect of the artist’s resume. Although he has demonstrated enormous range and versatility, Achilleos has done some of his finest work in the realm of erotica. His storied past includes involvement in the vibrant goth and fetish movements that emerged in London in the 90s and later. He became fascinated by the wonderful cast of women he met and began using them as models in his fantasy pinup work.
The artist continues to live and work in London, travelling frequently to attend conventions and fairs and to promote his work. He continues to stretch his own artistic boundaries while his reputation continues to expand.
- illustrated book covers in fantasy, sci-fi and horror genres, including Conan the Barbarian
- work has appeared in major magazines including Heavy Metal, Radio Times and Men Only
- worked as conceptual artist on major motion pictures including Willow, Clash of the Titans and Blade Runner
- created cover for Whitesnake album Lovehunter
- published four compilations of artwork: Beauty and the Beast, Sirens, Medusa and Amazona