Shelf Candy – Interview with Devil’s Luck Artist Anne Cain

March 31, 2012 General, Interviews, Shelf Candy 12


Today is Shelf Candy day!  This is a meme hosted by the lovely Five Alarm Books in which the cover art of a book is highlighted and celebrated along with its artist.  This is my second edition of the weekly meme, and it is quickly becoming one of my favorite things to do.

The cover I am showcasing today is Devil’s Luck, written by Carolyn Crane, artwork by Anne Cain.





The moment I saw this cover I loved it.  As a big fan of The Disillusionist Trilogy, I was excited to see a novella about the enigmatic and reckless Simon.  What I appreciated about the artwork was its subtle romanticism coupled with a sense of vulnerability that you would not expect from the character.  The textured background, brooding hero, and beautiful colors combined to create a cover I thought was pretty powerful.

The person responsible for its creation is the artist Anne Cain.  Based in the Southwest, Anne is a celebrated artist with extensive experience in publishing and illustration.

Let me introduce you to the wonderful Anne Cain!


SWR:  Can you tell me a little bit about your art background – your training and development as an artist and how you got into doing book covers specifically?

I’ve been drawing my whole life, and being an artist was one of my earliest dreams as a kid (right after being a paleontologist and crime fighter). I’m trained in studio art and have a BFA in drawing, but I fully embrace graphic and digital arts as well. A friend introduced me to the world of epublishing a few years ago, and I got into doing covers in addition to other illustration projects.


SWR:  What techniques do you use to create your covers? Traditional painting and sketching or is it more computer based?

My approach to cover art varies as much as the genres of the books I work on. I try to be a jack-of-all-trades and can switch styles/techniques depending on the project. So, for example, a YA fantasy with steampunk elements might call for an illustrated cover, while a dark paranormal romance novel needs a mixed media image with photos and digital paint. That kind of versatility is fun for me as an artist since I have more options to play with while creating the image.


SWR:  Tell me the story of how you got involved with Carolyn Crane’s “Devil’s Luck”?  Had you read the series before and what was it like working with her?

I had a little luck of my own in creating the cover for “Devil’s Luck”. Carolyn herself approached me with info on her story and characters, and I was hooked.  She was amazing to work with, not only because she’s a great person, but because she let me have fun with the art. Creative freedom is something any artist appreciates!


SWR:  The character of Simon is a bit of a mystery and tends towards the flamboyant in his sense of style.  What I love about your cover is that feeling of Simon being laid bare (both literally and figuratively) and he retains that sense of mystery while hinting at something deeper than what one might expect from the character.  I think that fits the story perfectly.  I also like its subtlety – he is depicted as a romantic figure but it doesn’t have a typical romance feel.  How did you develop the concept for the cover and how much collaboration with Carolyn was involved with its design? (and I promise my next question won’t have a paragraph lead in)

LOL! Well, it’s a fantastic question. I know there’s a lot of imagery out there that romance novels rely on to help promote the content of the book. The bare-chested hunk and, to use an older example, the “clinch” pose, are common visual conventions that let readers know at first glance, “This book is sexy, romantic, and you want to read it now!” The trick as a cover artist is to acknowledge those conventions while making sure the uniqueness of that particular story is demonstrated. With “Devil’s Luck” the emphasis had to be on Simon because he’s such a fabulous character and we wanted to capture his essence—especially with his tattoos!—but we also had to be careful to not overpower the ‘romance element’. Carolyn and I discussed whether or not to portray him with more of a nod to his flashy sense of fashion, but we decided that less is more, and that resulted in the cover where we get a sense of Simon “being laid bare”.


SWR:  What is the one thing about Simon that you felt must be translated on the cover?

Strength, physically of course, but also that intensity of spirit and recklessness.


SWR:  If you are familiar with the series, what other characters from the Disillusionist world would you like to bring to life on a cover?

I’ve read Double Cross, and I love Justine. If Carolyn were to pen another story with her, I’m claiming dibs on the chance to make some art! *lol*


SWR:  Looking at your body of cover work, I would say that subtle yet edgy and romantic are words that come to my mind when trying to describe it.  The layered backgrounds are also interesting and seem to be a signature of your style.  How would you describe your style?

I love texture and color and intensity. I like creating images which hopefully make the viewer pause for a moment or two just to enjoy looking. Rich backgrounds with just a hint of abstraction enhance that viewing experience. So I would definitely describe my style as “atmospheric”.



SWR:  What artists have influenced your work?

So many! Drew Struzan, James Jean, Paul Cadmus, Cliff Nielsen, Brom, Julie Bell…those are just a few that popped into my head on the spot. Never underestimate where and from whom an artist will draw inspiration—if art is a language, we pick up turns of phrases and colloquialisms from everywhere.


SWR:  How has the rise of the eBook format impacted the art of book cover design?

Definitely more consideration is given to how the artwork will reproduce in teeny-weeny thumbnail sizes. We also have to be mindful of how the art might look on black and white screens, in the case of some Kindles. Fundamentally, though, the spirit of the design stays the same: make a piece of art that’s eye-catching and awesome!


SWR:  If you could create a cover for any one book, what would it be and why?

I’m going to throw something out there which might be totally from left field, but it would be the bee’s knees to create the cover to a new edition of The Dark Phoenix Saga. I loooove comics, and that graphic novel is one of my all-time fave X-men books.


SWR:  Are there any up-coming projects you would like to tell us about?

On the cover art front, I’m excited to be working with a number of excellent companies. I recently added Amazon Publishing to my client list, and I’m getting ready to work with C.E. Murphy on some art projects which is going to be fun. I might also have a short sketchbook coming out from Dreamspinner Press later this year. For updates on projects and convention appearances, please check out my DeviantArt page or hit me up on Twitter!

Please take a look at some of Anne’s other beautiful work:

A big thank you to Anne for her interview!  Please take a moment to check out her site and follow up with her on Twitter.  And read the book!  The Disillusionists Trilogy is one of the most original UF series out there and the artwork on Devil’s Luck highlights that!

Happy Reading!


12 Responses to “Shelf Candy – Interview with Devil’s Luck Artist Anne Cain”

  1. Becky Black

    Anne’s done two of my covers and I just love them. The layered and textured backgrounds are indeed fantastic. I love to zoom on on the high-res version and see just how much amazing detail there is going on. I love the way they blend seamlessly in with the main image.

    • shewolfreads

      Beck, that’s fantastic! I love those backgrounds – the layers and textures add so much. You know I was trying to articulate what I saw in her style and she worded it perfectly, “atmospheric.” That is definitely the common thread I see in all of her work. Thanks so much for visiting!

  2. Cambria

    What a great shelf candy post. The cover is hot!! Lol. I love the colors and the overall strength of the design. I enjoyed reading the interview – clearly this is a talented artist. All her designs look wonderful!!

  3. Steph (@FABR_Steph)

    This is an enlightening interview. Great questions. Thank you for posting such an interesting Shelf Candy. The covers are amazing, so multi layered!

    • shewolfreads

      Thanks for starting this meme! I’ve really been enjoying meeting these artists and its become sort of an obsession! 🙂

  4. fishgirl182

    great interview and i would love to see anne’s cover to the dark phoenixi saga. how can we make this happen?

    • shewolfreads

      Thanks, Pamela! I love the cover and Anne was great. Her work is really wonderful.