Meet the faculty! - Boris Vallejo & Julie Bell


Born in Lima, Peru, Boris attended the National School of Fine Arts in his native country before immigrating to the United States in 1964. He has since done a great volume of work for the Fantasy field, having worked for virtually every major publishing house with a science fiction/fantasy line. Boris has also illustrated for album covers, video box art and motion picture advertising.

Boris’ preferred artistic medium is oil paint on board, and he has previously used digital media to combine discrete images to form composite images. Preparatory works are pencil or ink sketches, which have been displayed in the book Sketchbook. He and Julie Bell have worked on collaborative artworks together, in which they sign the artwork with both names. His mastery of oil painting is immediately and abundantly clear to anyone who looks at his work, and his classic sense is as much an homage to the old masters as it is to anyone contemporaneously working in the Fantasy genre.

Subjects of his paintings are typically sword and sorcery, gods, monsters, and well-muscled male and female barbarians engaged in battle. Some of his male figures were modeled by Vallejo himself, and many of his later female characters were modeled by his wife. For sheer dauntless bravura, few have ever pushed the limits as does Boris with his beautiful maidens and fearsome monsters.

Boris and Julie married in 1994 and share their lives and their studio in Pennsylvania.


Julie Bell is riding at the top in the field of superstar illustrators of the world today. Her credits include creating advertising illustrations for the elite of the corporate world, such as Nike, Coca-Cola and The Ford Motor Company, painting book covers for the major publishing houses in NYC or doing album covers for artists such as Meat Loaf. She was the first woman ever to paint Conan for Marvel Comics, which paved the way for many other commissions from Marvel, DC, and Image Comics to illustrate superheroes in fully rendered paintings. Her first published cover for Heavy Metal magazine broke ground for other illustrators with the introduction of her now legendary Metal Flesh. Her hyper-realistic style is known for its sexy, powerful images of warriors and amazons and a sensitive, exquisite use of color and texture.

Julie Bell was born in Beaumont, Texas. A former competitive bodybuilder, Julie applies the same discipline and intensity to her art career as she did to her training. Julie’s knowledge of anatomy has allowed her to imbue her figures of humans and animals with grace and strength. At the heart of her work is a sense of empowerment and independence.

Julie’s work has appeared on hundreds of book covers, comic books, trading cards, and various collectibles. There are three volumes of her work available: Soft as Steel, Hard Curves, and The Julie Bell Portfolio, as well as many books with her husband, Boris Vallejo, such as Fantasy Workshop, Twin Visions, Superheroes, Sketchbook, Fabulous Women, Imaginistix, and most recently 
The Ultimate Collection. Each year, Julie and Boris create a highly anticipated calendar together.


How do you battle through rough patches? What drives you forward?

I have two mantras that I say to myself when I'm freaking out about painting. The primary one is "It's not brain surgery, it's just painting." It's so easy to panic and think that everything is riding on getting everything 100% "right" immediately. Not so! You can come back and correct things, repaint, start over, erase, wipe out, etc. Brain surgeons don't have it so easy! Relaxing out of this thinking is very helpful.

The second mantra is, "Keep going."

What is the best piece of advice you've ever received? 

Believe in yourself. Boris told me that and it's his lot in life to tell me again every day!


At this stage in your career, what is your dream project?

For years I have wanted to do some paintings for myself. I am still working on that.

Nothing too elaborate or big. Just something that I would do because I just feel like doing it.

What do you wish you had known earlier in your career?

I feel that the process of discovery is even more fun that just knowing something. In that sense, I cannot think of anything that I would have wanted to know ahead of time.

Boris & Julie will be teaching their Dynamic Fantasy Illustration workshop on August 16-18, 2013. 
Enrollment opens on Oct 15!

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