Josh Kirby

Creator of Discworld's Magical Imagery

Josh Kirby studied at the Liverpool City School of Art in the Liverpool suburb of Waterloo. Six years later, Josh Kirby graduated and went to work exercising his particular skill, portrait painting. An art studio which produced posters advertising films on the London Underground employed Josh Kirby at this time.

Josh Kirby used this skill for a few years, painting portraits of film stars, before realizing that he would have more time to explore new areas if he were not working full time in the studio. Biting the bullet, Josh Kirby became a freelance artist.

Initially Josh Kirby was commissioned to illustrate pieces for Panther Books. Through their connections in science fiction publishing, he became involved with painting magazine covers for Authentic Science Fiction magazine. Josh Kirby moved to Bushey, in the north of London and following a Bohemian life-style Josh Kirby produced some huge paintings during this time.

Corgi Books commissioned Josh Kirby to illustrate Terry Pratchett's Colour of Magic. He was delighted with the project - and it shows! Corgi were obviously pleased with Josh Kirby's work, since he was asked to illustrate the entire series. As Terry Pratchett himself acknowledges, Josh Kirby created the Discworld as we know it. In fact Terry admits that he didn't really know what some of the characters looked like until Josh Kirby drew them!

The secret of Josh Kirby's success? Simple - he read the books! Before starting on a piece, Josh made notes from the story and biro roughs to experiment with his ideas. He then created his magical imagery using oil paints over a pencil outline on watercolour board. For the rest of us mere mortals, he could just as well have been waving a magic wand...

Sadly, Josh Kirby passed away on 23rd October 2001. You can read the Josh Kirby obituary on the Artists UK website (

An exhibition of his original paintings was hosted by the Walker Gallery in Liverpool with free entry just as Josh Kirby would have wished but the permanent exhibition of his paintings he always hoped for has yet to arrive.

Josh's work on the Web
Soul Music (DEATH on a Motorbike)by Josh Kirby
Discworld Companion (The Librarian) by Josh kirby
Men at Arms by Josh Kirby
Interesting Times by Josh Kirby

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Josh kirby profile Copyright 2004 Artists UK