RYAN T. HANCOCK: "There’s just something about painting space, stars, planets etc. that makes me happy" 

Do you have any records in your collection that you bought just because of the cover artwork, without knowing the music? I clearly have several of them, and one artist has already triggered this reflex for three times in me with his stunning pieces... So when I thought about how to evolve my new column, he was one of the first painters who came to my mind, and I'm happy he joined this. Welcome to take a look "Behind the Scenes" with Ryan T. Hancock:  


Hey Ryan, thanks for making time to answer my questions. Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?

Sure! I’m Ryan T. Hancock, an artist based in the UK. I’m a traditional painter with a love of everything sci-fi and fantasy. I especially like to paint environments with a big focus on portraying scale and space.

When did you start drawing? And what is your creative background?

I’ve always liked to draw for as long as I can remember, not sure when I started exactly. Painting is a more recent skill that I learnt while I was studying Illustration at University a few years ago. I started with inks and watercolours before moving into painting with Acrylics.

What or who inspired you to start painting cover artworks?

I’ve always loved the traditional, hand painted covers of old sci-fi novels and albums by artists such as John Harris or Michael Whelan. And I’ve also always really liked looking at album artwork, especially on the vinyl versions.

So it’s a combination of both that really led me to do what I do now.

What’s your favorite technique? And which one would you like to try?

I mainly like to paint in Acrylics because of the convenience. Most of my commissions have pretty short deadlines, so the fast-drying time of Acrylic paint can really help.

In the future I would love to learn how to use oil paints - There are certain techniques and effects that can only be achieved using this medium.

I love your timelapse videos, but of course these are just snippets. How long do you normally work on one painting, and could you please describe the creative process a bit for us, from the idea to the final piece?

This can really vary from painting to painting, some can be more difficult and take longer than others, but if I was to give you an average time, I’d say around 40-50 hours - This is from the idea generation to the finished artwork.

As for my process, usually what I do is I’ll start doing very small sketches just exploring some compositions and ideas in my sketchbook, and then slowly start to create more detailed versions of those as I figure things out. Sometimes this can be quick, an idea will just come to me, and I’ll be ready to paint. Other times it may take days or even weeks of revisions and thinking before I land on something I like.

After that I’ll usually have 3 or 4 refined ideas that I’ll send over to the client, they will either choose one they like for me to go ahead with, or sometimes they might have some changes they would like me to make.

Then I will finally begin painting the final artwork.

Your work is often space- or fantasy related, showing epic landscapes on first sight, but with many wonderful details waiting to be discovered when looking closer. What’s your connection to these themes?

I’ve always been obsessed with space and fantasy, my favorite movies as a kid were Star Wars which I would watch obsessively haha. There’s just something about painting space, stars, planets etc. that makes me happy.

That's awesome :-) What was your most challenging commission so far?

I’m not sure, I feel like it would be my most recent painting, but maybe that’s just because it’s so fresh in my mind… Every painting I work on has its own, unique challenges and difficulties to overcome.

Being a music fan yourself, which band(s) got you into rock / metal?

The first bands I can remember listening to and realizing that I love rock music were probably Pearl Jam and Led Zeppelin, I grew up listening to these a lot.

After that at some point I came across All Them Witches, which led me down a path to really fall in love with rock, metal and especially the blues.

What was your most memorable concert so far, and why?

I would have to say seeing King Buffalo last year - This was the first time I got to meet one of the bands that I’ve actually worked with in person. And I’m also just a massive fan of their music, so meeting and talking to them was so awesome!

I can imagine. What can you tell us about your future plans?

Painting, painting and more painting!

Also, I have worked on quite a few exciting album covers over the past few months that should be announced at some point later this year. I’m definitely excited to fully share the artwork I did for these as I feel like it’s some of my best work!


Looking forward to these! Before we wrap things up, do you have any further thoughts you’d like to share here?

I just want to thank you and everyone for being interested in my work! I really appreciate it. Hopefully I will be able to keep working professionally as an artist for a long time :-)

Curious to see what is yet to come. Thanks again for your time, and all the best for you and your future plans :-)