top of page

An interview with: Gilbert Williams

ASTRAL speak with a true legend of visionary fantasy art, Gilbert Williams.

Born 1950 in Santa Monica (California, USA), Gilbert Williams' uncle was the head of Disney's special effects department, most famously working on the shark in Jaws. This love of fantastical visual storytelling clearly rubbed off on Gilbert who as a child remembers his uncles backyard as "a wonderland of plaster molds, tools, and movie props". Whilst at high school Gilbert Williams was drawn to art history and the techniques of the reneissance masters, providing him with a foundation to build upon, citing Bosch as a strong inspiraiton. He also frequently visited museums, gazing in awe at dinosaur relics and ancient artifacts.

Moving between areas in California in his twenties allowed Gilbert Williams to cross paths with many spiritual seekers and creative minds who motivated him internally to pursue his journey of spiritual art, being surrounded by a thriving community of like minded people.

The rest was history, and by the late 1970's Gilbert Williams was selling his paintings to galleries in California, the rest of America, and not before long, world wide.

Gilbert Williams has now become a trademark name within the fantasy art genre, known for his spell binding and other worldly acrylic paintings depicting magical forces, spirits, elves and mystical themes that he derives from "an intuitive reflection of my own dream world".

Gilbert Williams is widely regarded as one of the most beloved visionary fantasy artists of the 20th century, so it is an absolute honour for ASTRAL to present a conversation with the master of fantasy art himself. Read on below for our full interview....

Celestial Visitations

When did you first start creating art and how long did it take to develop your signature style ? 

I have been creating art since I was a small child. I always was drawn to illustrating the images in my imagination rather than the material world around me. In my teens I was swept up in the magic of the psychedelic sixties in California, and the art of that era. I traveled a lot in my early twenties, and I found myself in the Mt Shasta area, which was a center for the nascent new age spirituality movement. This is where I developed my art style in an attempt to convey the experiences I was having.

What are some key ideas and themes that have inspired your work the most and why ? 

 The central themes of my art are the inner journey of transcendence, the mythical archetypes of the path of light, and the healing magical beauty of imagination.

Far Vistas

Could you expand on what the power of imagination represents to you ? 

I think the most powerful thing we can do to heal the traumas life may throw at us is to not fall into habitual avoidance defence patterns, but to choose to align our self image with the resonance of beauty and creativity. I'm not saying "Just be positive." Repressing feelings traps them. Our subconscious  imagination is open to whatever we choose to feed it. Art and music can bypass the beliefs, fears and logic of the ego, and open us to the very real magic of creating a beautiful reality.

Celestial Visitations

What does spirituality mean to you and how does it inform your artistic practice ?

Spirituality to me is the embracing of the divine self within all of us, and the letting go of the material centered desires of the personal ego, while hopefully living in a balanced and practical day to day life. In my art I hope to create a resonance of transcendent light, a world of magical possibility. 

The Gathering

Are there any artists / books / thinkers that have had a strong impact on your work ?

I have been inspired by many artists over the years, mostly illustrators of imagination and fantasy. I now live in the Hudson Valley area of New York, home to the nineteenth century landscape art of people like Fredric Church, and Thomas Cole. In the late sixties I was inspired by the psychedelic art of people like Peter Max, and Mati Klarwein. In the early seventies I discovered Maxfield Parrish and his use of pure reactive color which I was blown away by, and used in my own art.


What are your thoughts on the current psychedelic renaissance happening within society ?

I find the resurgence of psychedelic interest a reflection of a cultural turn away from the limiting structures of a failed system, and a desire for new perspectives. I live just down the road from Alex Grey's center for psychedelic inspired art, and find it quite interesting. I personally no longer use mind altering substances, but support those who choose to explore... With some obvious cautions, of course.


What advice would give to your younger self as an artist first starting out ?

 If I could give my younger self advice it would be... Go ahead. You will make some painful blunders, but there will also be real magic along the way. No regrets. ASTRAL

The Wizard

You can discover more of Gilbert Williams' work via his website & facebook.



bottom of page