top of page
  • Writer's pictureJean-Francois Podevin


Updated: Apr 21, 2021

1st edition cover of Snowcrash by Neal Stephenson

I have been a digital artist for 30 years and the cover of the first edition of Snowcrash by author Neal Stephenson was my first published digital illustration.

In 1989, long before Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop came to existence,

an early computer imaging pioneer named Larry Scher introduced me to digital art. At the time I worked with oil, acrylics, gouache and airbrush, and any media that would allow me to meet my deadlines.

In 1991, Bantam Art Director, Jamie Warren, assigned me to create the cover art for the first edition of Snowcrash. When I said that I had begun to work with computers,

she asked me and I agreed to create the cover of Snowcrash as a digital


I first drew pencil sketches, I painted separate elements

with gouache over B&W photocopies of my drawings.

I followed by scanning the results and processed the image

on Larry’s SGI workstation with an ATT software called RIO

with which we calculated and programmed the digital filters.

As the deadline came to a close we ran into technical problems.

I had to be creative!

I printed from 35mm slides the output as color xeroxes,

created a small hodge podge half collage, half painted color

comprehensive sketch of the image.

Next I had a 20”by 24” rushed color print made which I painted

and airbrushed to become the art that you see.

Each single pixel, in the pixely part of the image, was hand painted!

I met the deadline, I said nothing of it and everyone at Bantam books were thrilled

with this new fangled "computer illustration."

It is in fact in part digital art and in part traditional painting.

The result is an hybrid artwork, a reflection of the osmosis between the real world and the virtual reality of Snowcrash, beyond the intent of the image.

I could have never imagined Snowcrash to become the "1984" of cyberspace.

I have recently received several email queries about the artwork.

After Googling Snowcrash on the Internet, as the copyright owner on this art, I decided to make it available as fine art prints on my website:

Neil Stephenson's visionary dreams have become the future that we live in, with concepts such as augmented reality , Google earth, cryptocurrency,

He brought into all human languages new words such as "Avatar" and "Metaverse".

It would fulfill this artwork's strange destiny that 30 years later, the cover art of Snowcrash would one day rejoin the "Metaverse".

Jean-Francois Podevin

53 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page