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.
WHY I LOVE THIS COVER:
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!
Today I am happy to participate in the meme Shelf Candy Saturday, hosted by Five Alarm Books, in which the cover art of a book is highlighted and celebrated along with its artist.
WHY I LOVE THIS COVER:
Tony Mauro did a fantastic job with this cover. I love it for two reasons – the mystery of it and its typographical treatment. The featured character is Criminy Stain, a magical ringmaster of a traveling circus and a Bludman, a vampire-like being. I love that Criminy is covered in shadow, that his face is somewhat obscured so that you have to look closely to make out his features. This treatment suits his character perfectly because he himself is a bit of a mystery – at once gentle and attentive to Tish, the heroine of the story, while at the same time hinting at his capacity for violence.
I also adore the type treatment – mainly how the “W” in “Wicked” doubles as blood splattered fangs. Lest you forget this is the tale of a Bludman, that “W” reminds you.
INTERVIEW WITH TONY MAURO:
I am excited to share with you an interview I did with Tony on his work for this featured cover. Tony is a graduate of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and, after moving to Los Angeles from Buffalo in 1994, has become a celebrated illustrator focusing on movie posters, book covers, and video game box art. His past projects range from posters for The X-Files and Pirates of the Caribbean, to book covers for Chicagoland Vampires, Guild Hunters, and Sunshine (some of my favorite works). He recently moved back to Buffalo in order to concentrate more on his fantasy art.
Without further ado, here is my interview with Tony.
SWR: You have worked extensively on both movie posters and book cover art. For films you usually have an actor or actress to base your piece on but for a book you really only have the text. What is your process for taking that text and bringing the characters to life in your art?
My advantage here is that most authors go to great lengths to be as descriptive as possible when they introduce their characters so that certainly helps. My first step and always the best case scenario is to read the book before I do anything. Unfortunately, because of my workload, I don’t always have time to read the whole book but the first few chapters are usually the most descriptive because that’s when the author is introducing the characters and setting the tone and environment for the story. I’m also given a synopsis from the publisher at the beginning of the project which will detail the setting and character that they are interested in seeing portrayed on the cover.
SWR: How much collaboration exists between the cover artist, the author, and the publisher in designing a book cover?
Most people would be surprised that there is no contact between the author and the cover artist at all. The publisher will often coordinate with the author and discuss the cover concepts before they contact me. All of my communication is with the in-house art director at the publishing house. In most cases they already have a good idea of what they are looking for before they contract me. A lot of these are series books so I’ve already established the style and look for the series on the past covers so our only task is to present a new scenario for our hero.
SWR: Does most of your work happen on the computer or with traditional sketching and painting?
I was a traditional airbrush illustrator for the first 5-7 years of my career before crossing over to the computer. In the beginning I still did a lot of sketching and would even traditionally paint certain elements of the piece and then scan them in to finish up the details on the computer. Nowadays I do everything from beginning to end on the computer and photography has become a huge part of what I do.
SWR: Can you tell me specifically about how you created the cover for Wicked As They Come? What was your process and inspiration?
My only direction on this one was to focus on the main character and to keep him mysterious. Obviously in this case the clothing and personal style of Criminy Stain play a huge role in defining the character. I was told to think “freak show ring master” which I thought was a great visual to play with. His tailcoat was described in a few passages from the book so I found a jacket online that fit the bill and got that ordered in time for the shoot. I’m building quite a collection of steampunk style clothing in my photo studio. I experimented with a few different lighting set-ups that would cast some interesting shadows over him and once I picked the shot I liked I started working it up in the layout and experimenting with different settings to place him in that would define the genre as well as create some depth.
SWR: I love the mysteriousness and danger hinted at on the cover of Wicked As They Come. What is the one characteristic of Criminy Stain that you wanted to make sure translated from the page to your design?
His personal style was the thing that was most important to try and get across. When you’re dealing with one single image to present a character the only thing you can really play with to define who they are is how they’re dressed and whatever subtle expression they will have on their face. The determination and intensity in his eyes as well as the shadow falling across his face are what gave him the edge that he needed to give him that dangerous and mysterious quality.
SWR: Since this is the first of a trilogy, was there an overall concept you created that would follow through to the other books in the series?
The biggest carry through for this series will be the style of the type treatment I used. We usually try and tackle each title in a series individually because even though we want them to look similar enough to be viewed as a series when they’re together, it’s very important that each book stand on its own.
SWR: Who are artists that inspire your work?
There are several people that inspire me for different reasons. I’ve always been a huge Norman Rockwell fan, stylistically my work is completely different than his but I admire his ability to tell a story with one singular image. Of the contemporary artists out there I really love Brom’s work and often look to his stuff for inspiration.
SWR: If you could create a cover for any one book what book would that be and why?
I’m a huge James Patterson fan so I’ve always said I’d love to work on his Alex Cross series books. I’ve read all of them so I definitely have a connection to his characters as well as the tone of his books.
SWR: You’ve created some of my favorite covers – Chicagoland Vampires, Sunshine, the last two Guild Hunter covers, and now, Wicked As They Come – can you give us any hints about your upcoming cover work?
I do have lots of things coming down the pipeline but I really shouldn’t discuss them until they are released. Confidentiality is very important in such a competitive marketplace. I’m working with several different competing publishers and loose lips sink ships I can tell you that I’ve done several survivalist books recently that will be hitting shelves soon. That category as well as the steampunk category are really blowing up.
Take a look at some of Tony’s cool fantasy work, some of which has not yet been posted on his site.
You can see more of Tony’s work at his website: http://www.darkdayproductions.com/
Special thanks to Tony Mauro for joining me here on She-Wolf Reads!
Please stop by tomorrow for my Wicked As They Come review!