1. ITV Report

Why a Birmingham artist's work is out of this world

Welcome to the worlds of David A. Hardy. He's spent more then six decades creating masterpieces of moonscapes and milky ways.

Volcano erupting in a Jupiter landscape Credit: David A. Hardy

They all start life in his spare bedroom at Hall Green in Birmingham. As a schoolboy, David saw photo-like paintings in a library book and asked his art teacher if he could do something similar.

"I said 'Aren't these wonderful how do you think he does them?' and he said 'Well they're photographs aren't they' and I said 'No, they can't be photographs - we haven't been there yet!"

– David A. Hardy

Now aged 77 he's the longest established living space artist in the world. He's illustrated and authored numerous books and has counted amongst his friends science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke and Sir Patrick Moore, whom he worked with after a friend recommended the astronomer take a look at the then teenager's sketches.

Artwork for 'War of the Worlds' Credit: David A. Hardy

"The next thing I knew there was a series of telegrams from Patrick saying could I phone his phone number and he wanted me to illustrate a book for him called 'Suns, Myths and Men' about the myths and legends of the stars. I illustrated all his book and when The Sky at Night started in 1957 I became his artist on that and that's how it all started."

David has also worked on several movies. It was his specially commissioned artwork that enabled the production team of the 1984 fantasy Never Ending Story to visualise how the final film would look.

Sketches for the Ivory Tower in the film 'The Never Ending Story' Credit: David A. Hardy

Just as technology has transformed space exploration, it's also changed the way David works. His attic is now his digital studio - with the latest software helping him to stay at the top of his trade.

"Publishers wanted work done digitally because they could have it sent on a CD or by email and if they want any changes made they can just say can you change this from green to blue and you can do it easily,"

The Bullring makes an appearance in some of David's martian landscapes Credit: David A. Hardy

David is now President of the International Association of Astronomical Artists, Vice President of the Association of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists and in 2003 an asteroid, previously known as '1998 SB32', was officially named 'Davidhardy'.

Not bad for a Brummie boy whose early work was illustrating boxes for Cadbury's just down the road.

"Science and art have always been diametrically opposed, never the twain shall meet, and I've never understood that. I think they can meet and art of the type that I produce can be just as beautiful as art that terrestrial artists produce."

– David A. Hardy