– Donna Parkinson
Keith Parkinson was born on October 22, 1958, in West Covina, California. He attended elementary school at Weinberger School, San Diego, and graduated from Okemos High School, Lansing, Michigan. From a very young age, Keith had an interest in the arts. His take on what exactly constituted “art” was a little different from the definitions of most, though. Inspired by the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, he started painting sweeping landscapes occupied by fearsome monsters during high school. He quickly developed an affinity for his new hobby, and was soon splitting his time between painting and playing drums in a rock band.
Citing a desire for a more stable career as a freelance fantasy artist, Keith eventually abandoned his dreams of rock stardom and left his band to go to art school. Upon graduating from Kendall School of Design in 1980, Keith took a staff artist position at a company called Advertising Posters. Contrary to the way it sounds, the company had nothing to do with advertising or posters, and they may or may not have been owned by the mob. They were silk screen printers that printed and generated all of the art for the pinball, and blossoming arcade video industry. Keith had a direct hand in the artwork of many of the most popular games that mark the beginning of the video game industry.
After working with Advertising Posters, Keith took a job at a company called TSR; the publishers of the popular Dungeons & Dragons role playing game. During a five year stint as a TSR staff artist he contributed to a wide variety of projects. These range from book and magazine covers to calendars to game boxes and modules. Various titles include Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, Gamma World and Amazing Stories. With the help of his realistic, yet fantastic style that blended a wry humor with subtle optimism, they all became best sellers. It was during his time at TSR that his first son, Nick, was born.
After TSR, Keith decided it was time to move on to a freelance career. Just before uprooting from his Wisconsin home and moving to rural Pennsylvania, Zachary, his second son was born. The next seven years were spent primarily doing book covers for the New York publishing market. Clients include Random House, Bantam and Penguin Books. Covers for best selling authors include Terry Goodkind, David Eddings, Anne McCaffrey, Orson Scott Card, and Terry Brooks. Keith received many accolades and awards during this period from fans and his peers alike.
In 1995, Keith created a collectable card game called Guardians — his first foray into game design. It was a new experience for him but despite that, many of the top artists in the fantasy art field contributed to the game by illustrating Keith’s characters. While short-lived, Guardians was successful in great part due to the fantastic artwork and Keith’s unique brand of humor. During this time, he also released his first art book entitled “Knightsbridge: The Art of Keith Parkinson.” It has long since completely sold out.
In 2000, Keith began devoting more time to writing and moved the focus of his commercial artwork into the software industry, producing art for the hugely popular EverQuest online game by Sony Online Entertainment, and THQ’s Summoner. He also painted an EverQuest piece that appeared on the cover of TV GUIDE magazine.
In April of 2002, Keith was eager for a change in scenery and moved to San Diego to — along with several EverQuest colleagues — found Sigil Games Online, Inc. Among his many responsibilities as Art Director for Sigil Games Online, Keith created and maintained the overall style of the game, contribute to in-house concept art, in-game art, posters, promotional material, and more.
During his life, Keith traveled the world many times over. He explored castles across Europe, camped in the deserts of Kenya and wandered the busy streets of Hong Kong but his favorite place to be was always at home surrounded by friends, family, and of course, lots of paint.
After a lengthy struggle with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML), Keith passed away on October 26, 2005. He was 47 years old. He was an inspiration to everyone that knew him and he will be greatly missed..