Val was born in Youngstown, Ohio. As a young adult, he worked in steel mills to pay his way through college.With clients ranging from Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, The United Methodist Publishing House, Miller/Coors, Dark Horse Comics and Cintas the uniform company, his almost three decades of work has been as diverse as his clientele. “A true illustrator should be able to illustrate anything, it’s our job! To take something we might not know anything about and present a final product that will make the viewer assume that we are experts on the subject”. When asked to sum up the past 33 years he just says, “it’s a nice start”.
Jeff Preston treats each assignment as if it were his last. “As I’m working I ask myself if it were all to end now is this the illustration I would want to be my legacy?” Perhaps somewhat melodramatic but he truly believes in the approach and it seems to be working. More than technique and professional polish the one word that best sums up his illustration is “passion”! That’s something that can not be put on with a brush or rendered in with a pencil. It’s the one thing that connects with the viewer, the heart that goes into the illustration. It’s there or it isn’t, there’s no middle ground. “If I can evoke an emotion when the audience sees my work I have succeeded. Whether it’s a smile, a hearty laugh, a tear or even reaching in their wallet to buy the product my illustration promoted … I’ve made my touchdown”.
Awards and accolades are not sought but still welcomed acknowledgement that the path he has chosen is the right one. The earliest came in 1964. The PTA of Gallatin, Tennessee had a yearly carnival and an art show for grades 1, 2 and 3. A blue ribbon for first place was awarded for an illustration he did depicting a caveman waving good bye to the dinosaur he had just killed, he was 5 years old.
His work has appeared in the Spectrum Art Books, the annual global competition that selects the years best in contemporary fantastic art. In 2012 He was awarded the prestigious Rhondo Award for the “Best Cover of the Year” for Little Shoppe of Horrors #29 “The Definitive Dr. Phibes”.
In 2006 he was inducted into the New York Society of Illustrators where he also serves on the membership committee.
Apart from illustration he also plays the banjo to which he holds the distinction of being the only illustrator to ever play “Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony” on the 5 string banjo at the Society of Illustrators! “I wanted to make my own little historical anecdote there when I had my member show in 2010”. That particular bit of illustration trivia just might be safe… at least for now!
This will be Jeff Preston’s debut appearance at Atlanta Comic Con!