This article was originally published in the Oct. 18, 2000 Sunnyvale Sun newspaper.

Photograph by Jacqueline Ramseyer

Frank Wu, a Sunnyvale-based science fiction illustrator and patent agent, recently won the grand prize in the Illustrators of the Future contest. His award-winning art will be published in the L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future Anthology, Vol. XVI.

Invasion of the Sketchers


Sunnyvale artist wins 'Future Anthology' award


By Melissa Matchak

Art may not be his main source of income, but Frank Wu will never cease to be an artist. The recent winner of the L. Ron Hubbard Illustrators of the Future Gold Award, Wu has been an artist for most of his life.

"I can't imagine living life without doing art," Wu said. "Art is something that expresses things that can't be expressed in any other media."

His recent illustration for the contest was well worth a month of constant effort. He was rewarded with $4,000, a large trophy, and the publication of his illustration in L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future Anthology, Vol. XVI.

The contest, established in 1984 and maintained separately from Hubbard's Church of Scientology, operates in two phases: three winners are chosen from both the writing and illustration categories each quarter. The 12 winning illustrators for the year, chosen from thousands of entries from around the world, are assigned to illustrate one of the 12 winning stories. Wu was chosen as one of the quarterly winners, then named as the best illustrator from the final 12.

Wu, who grew up watching Star Trek and other science fiction shows and movies, said he has always been interested in this style of artwork. He said his ideas come from many places, including images he saw on television as a child.

"I love spaceships, costumes, alien creatures," Wu said. "As an artist, I can create all that stuff. You become the director, artist, producer; what could be better than that?"

The winning writers and illustrators were honored at a gala on Sept. 15, at the L. Ron Hubbard Library in Hollywood. Among the attendees were nine best-selling authors, from among the foremost writers in the world of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. All nine served as judges for this year's Writers of the Future contest.

Wu said he spent every hour of every evening and weekend during the month he had to complete his award-winning illustration. He even took a leave of absence from his job as a patent agent for Morrison and Foerster, a biotechnology company in Palo Alto, to work on it. [Correction: The leave of absence was actually done to work on a full issue of interior artwork for Fantastic Stories magazine, not for the Illustrators of the Future illustration. - FW]

"They were really cool about it," said Wu, who has a Ph.D. in bacteriology. He added, "The guy in the illustration is my boss."

Wu said it's important for artists to be educated and to draw from life and from real people.

"The more you know, the better off you are and the more it shows in your work," Wu said. "I think most artists don't know anything about science, and you can tell when an artist knows how to draw pretty pictures but doesn't know anything about the subject."

Wu, whose undergraduate degree is in English, said he's interested in many things, including history, politics and medieval studies. He added that his studies helped him in his artwork.