Interview with Merilliza Chan, the Illustrator for Air Awakens series

Air Awakens
Merilliza Chan is the Illustrator for the Air Awakens Series by Elise Kova. Her illustrations have gotten a lot of praise and I love them as well. I reached our to Merilliza and I was very glad when she agreed to do a little interview for my blog.


How did you get involved in these covers?  (Did you know Elise Kova from before? Did she contact you somehow?)
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.
Commissioned work “Marah and Tanner”

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.

Do you get to read the books before designing?
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?

Fire Falling
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!


How loearths endng does it take for you from idea to finished piece?
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.


Thank you so much Merilliza for doing this interview!
Merilliza Chan is based in Manila,Philippines and she is always looking for fun collaborative projects and would love to hear what you have to say, so feel free to contact her anytime!


Don’t miss Earth’s End by Elise Kova which goes on sale Feb 11 2016!
You can buy it or pre-order it  here: Amazon, Book Depository, Barnes&Noble



  1. Ohhh my God – I got unreasonably excited when I saw the update about this on insta. Thank you so much for doing this interview! (And thank-you Merilliza Chan for giving it!). I love behind the scenes stuff and cover design in particular – it’s fascinating, hearing about the process. I noticed you did a Red Queen review – there was an interview on YouTube with the cover designer of that and idk, it makes me so unreasonably excited. Creating a singular, iconic piece of art to represent an entire world must be amazing/daunting.

  2. Love this! These covers are amazing and so often we pick books for covers but never know where that cover came from. Great interview!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *