Luis Royo is a Spanish artist born in Olalla, a village in the Aragonese province of Teruel. He is best known for his fantasy illustrations published in numerous art books, magazines such as Heavy Metal and various other media including book and music CD covers, video games and Tarot cards.
Beginning his career as a furniture designer, he was attracted to the comics industry in the late 1970s by the work of artists like Enki Bilal and Moebius, and in 1979 he turned to art as a full-time career. Within a few years, he was publishing art within and on the covers of such magazines as Comix Rambla Internacional, El Vibora, Heavy Metal, National Lampoon and Comic Art as well as providing cover illustrations for several American publishers.
In 1983, Royo began working as an illustrator for publishers in the United States such as Tor Books, Berkley Books, Avon (publisher) and Bantam Books.
As his reputation grew, other publishers contacted Royo and he created custom covers for novels and magazines for Ballantine Books, NAL, DAW Books, Doubleday (publisher), HarperCollins, Zendra, Hasa Corporation, Penthouse Comix, Pocket Books with Star Trek: Voyager series and Battlestar Galactica novels, also Fleer for Ultra X-Men by Marvel.
An ongoing collaboration with Heavy Metal (magazine) produced a large number of magazine covers including the 20th anniversary issue in 1997. Illustrations for the character F.A.A.K were based on actress Julie Strain.
Royo’s other well-known covers for fantasy and science fiction titles of this period included Robots and Empire by Isaac Asimov, Conan by Robert E. Howard, 2010: Odyssey Two by Arthur C. Clarke and StarMan and Wayfarer Redemption saga by Sara Douglass among others.
Women, Royo’s first art book was published in 1992. It brings together many of his cover illustrations up to that date into one volume. His second book, Malefic, was published in 1994 and was dedicated to fantasy and science fiction imagery. This was followed in 1996 by Secrets, which was dedicated to erotism. Later art books, (III Millennium, Evolution, Visions and Dark Labyrinth) explored the same genres combining science fiction, apocalyptic worlds and myths of beauty and the beast, but received criticism for their explicit content.
In 2006, joined by Romulo Royo, Luis Royo traveled to Moscow to complete a commission to paint a fresco on a domed ceiling, reflecting classic themes of eroticism. The process and result of this work was published in another art book, Dome.
Royo began to work on Dead Moon in 2009, a project with an oriental theme. This produced two art books, Dead Moon and Dead Moon: Epilogue that tell a love story. Royo also designed a tarot deck using the Dead Moon theme. The original paintings were exhibited at Salón del Manga de Barcelona, ExpoManga and retail store Fnac.
In 2011, Luis and Romulo Royo started a multimedia project, Malefic Time, that included illustrated novels, a role playing game, figures based on illustrations, calendars and other spin-offs.
Royo worked with George R. R. Martin in 2014 to produce illustrations for Martin’s novelette, The Ice Dragon.