Some of my earliest memories are of sitting at the kitchen table with my father drawing dinosaurs in crayon. Art has always just been a part of my life. It's been at times a hobby, a career, and a lifestyle.
2. What kind of medium do you usually (and/or prefer) to use?
I prefer charcoal above all else. It's a very tactile way to draw and I greatly enjoy digging my hands into the heart of it and working out the composition.
As for the medium I use most often, it's a combination of watercolor paint and colored pencil. The watercolor underlays the pencil allowing for accuracy and detail in my biological illustrations.
3. Being that (e)book cover design is pretty much one of the more rare fields in the art world, how did you find yourself designing the covers for (e)books?
Outside of the control of large publishing companies it seems that it's both difficult for artists and authors to connect. My first introduction to cover design and illustration came when I was contacted by a client who had seen my work locally and privately commissioned me.
4. Can you describe the process of designing an (e)book cover from the idea stage to the final product?
Generally a contract is first made. It lays out the groundwork of trust for a working relationship. Such things like pricing,deadlines, printing rights, copyright ownership, termination of the project fee are laid out and discussed and then signed. This just ensures that everyone knows their rights and what they're getting. I am then sent a summary of the book, or even the book itself to read, along with the publisher's or author's ideas and concepts if they have any. Sometimes I get the privilege to discuss the book directly with it's author instead of second-hand from a publisher. When discussing with the author you really get to know the book, and you lay out what's important to show. Good book covers consist of a mix of graphic design and illustration. A nice picture for the cover does nothing if the layout and design of the cover is so poor that the text of the title cannot be read, or a nice font and title does nothing to attract the eye and garner sales without an interesting cover. The cover of the book needs to be striking to get sales as the cover is the book's advertisement in bookstores. After discussing with either the publisher or author I make a series of thumbnail sketches to hash out ideas for compositions and layouts. Generally thirty or more thumbnails before I pick the best three to legitimately sketch out. Those sketches get sent to the client who will pick their favorite, tell me what they like, what they don't like, and ask for changes. After the revisions I create the final illustration and jacket design.
5. How much interaction do you have with an author? How much say does the author have on the weight of your design?
That depends. In some cases the author is very involved in the project, sometimes commissioning me personally. Other times I never hear from the author at all and work with them only through their publisher. The author's opinions are important to me. No one knows the intricacies of the book and it's characters better than the author. Getting to work or discuss the book with them is a treat and I think it improves the process. The important thing is that the client is more than happy with the resulting design.
6. Where do your design inspirations come from?
I have a great love of Baroque painters and contemporary artists. My favorite artist of the week is Paul Wright for his dynamic and insightful portraiture.
7. Do you read all the books that you design covers for? What genre(s) are you most comfortable (and/or experienced) in?
If I have time I definitely do. Books are a great love of mine, and I enjoy reading anything I can get my hands on.
8. What are some of the things a potential client should look for in a good cover artist? Does education and previous experience really matter in your opinion?
A potential client should look for a good portfolio and someone who is experienced in graphic design. When seeking an artist make sure to ask about their previous work experience and see their current artworks.
I'm of the opinion that education and previous experience do matter. A formal art education ensures that the artist is both capable, qualified, and has the skills necessary to render the cover art worthy of the author's toils. And experience is a must. Book covers need a careful hand of graphic design and illustration to be both visually clean and attractive while being visually striking. The vital importance of the cover to book sales means that you only want to only hire someone with experience.
9. What is the best way for authors to contact you?
Through my email.
10. Coke or Pepsi?