Melissa Gay

photo of Melissa Gay

Melissa Gay is a Nashville-based illustrator of books and tabletop roleplaying games whose diverse list of clients includes Baen Books, Llewellyn Worldwide, Hay House, Apex Press, and many, many game companies. Among the ENnie award winning and fan favorite games she has illustrated are the Dresden Files RPG, Fate Core, Part-Time Gods, Mermaid Adventures, Trail of Cthulhu, 13th Age, The Dracula Dossier, and Camp Myth, and her work for the Sagaborn RPG system won her the Chesley award for Best Gaming-Related Illustration in 2018.

Her Imaginative Realist work has been featured in ImagineFX Magazine, io9,, and several of the Infected By Art anthologies. She is co-founder of the Birdwhisperer Project
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, a member of the Changeling Artist Collective, and is on the moderating team of the art business group One Fantastic Week. Her other passion projects include sci-fi sumi-e and her acrylic space paintings, which have met with international success. A former scientific illustrator, she is constantly seeking the perfect balance between precise detail and hazy obscurity to better engage the imagination of the viewer.

"I am greatly inspired by the natural world and by folk tales. I see my creative journey as an invocation of that state of wide-eyed wonder we all viewed the universe with as children, and my quest is to communicate that to the viewer. To a child, reality itself is magic, and magic is everywhere! Recurring themes in my work are flying things that should not fly (whales, sheep, etc.), faraway visions into deep space as if seen in a dream, and moments of surreal otherworldliness in a terrestrial setting. I have come to recognize it as a part of my struggle with my own mental health issues, this desire to break the shackles of depression and to soar, regardless of circumstances! Even my post-apocalyptic paintings have hope woven into them. Apart from drawing and painting, I am never happier than when in the woods hunting for secret waterfalls and climbing on rocks!"

Look for her work on and in these recent and upcoming publications: Year's Best Military and Adventure Sci-fi vol. 4 from Baen Books, the Yellow King RPG: the Wars (based on the iconic King In Yellow character by Robert W. Chambers) from Pelgrane Press, the new edition of Over the Edge from Atlas Games, Encounters with the Imaginary vol. 3 from Boneshaker Press, and the Olde Fae card game from the Changeling Artist Collective.