No, I didn’t know Elise until she emailed me looking for a cover artist. She told me she found me through my account on Deviantart. She saw one of my commissioned works.
Elise told me that particular work captured the essence she wanted for Air Awakens. I guess it was all just luck that she actually saw one of my works and it eventually lead me into being her cover artist.
Yes, I did read the books. Initially when Elise was looking for an artist, she sent me cut up scenes and character descriptions, along with the first book. She never expected me to read them all but I loved her story and got hooked. Now I want to know how it all ends. The books are, at the moment of this interview, still being created, so I still read as we go along. Elise has an amazing schedule and time table for when she sends me manuscript.
Do you get a set theme for the book cover or are you free to come up with ideas by yourself?
Both. What I love about working with Elise is that we have an open communication that enables our work flow to be flexible. Sometimes Elise has ideas too so I try to incorporate them along the way but the theme itself comes from the book, which is why I try to read what I can in order to come up with ideas. I think it’s important to get the “feel” and atmosphere of the book first and what’s really the point of interest in it. With that, I can make sure that whatever ideas I come up with stays relevant and unique with the story.
What do you think is the most fun during the process of making a cover?
Though I love and enjoy the whole process of my work, personally I think the real fun part comes during the painting process itself. I love my tools and sometimes I experiment along the way. Whenever I paint I learn something new, even in little ways. It’s the part that comes after idea generation / thumbnailing so I feel more relaxed when painting. Not to say that I stop problem solving when painting. In fact most of the problem start to arise once you begin painting. To me it’s like solving a puzzle game, piece by piece, until it is finished. And I love puzzle games!
The time to finish a cover depends on overall complexity of the artwork. If I count by the hours worked on it, I’d say it can span from three days to a week or two, this includes reading time. With Elise, she gives me at least a month and a half until the deadline. It’s up to me how to manage my own time of course.
Do you have any tips for aspiring cover designers?
To design a cover is different from painting an illustration, I think. I can only speak from my experience but when and before I even begin illustrating for the covers, I make sure my dimensions are specific and correct. I also keep in mind the bleeds and such to remind me not to put anything important around the sides. With that said when it comes to cover design, I think the most important would be a proper composition. When it comes to the illustration principle however, make sure to keep the ideas relevant and unique for the story. You want to create something that people will remember, in other words, iconic.
How long have you done cover designs?
I’ve been freelancing since I was in college. But with covers, not long. Elise was my first client when it comes to cover illustrations. There are now others, all my thanks to her.