Today is going to be a little different. I’m going to do a little Q&A session with my cover artist, Anne Coffer. I can talk about cover art until I’m blue in the ears, but in the end she’s the one who actually did mine. So, let’s get started!
Q: First off, what is your graphic art experience?
I want to start by saying that I don’t have any kind of degree or formal schooling in graphic art. I’ve been dabbling with it since I was a kid on my parents’ Packard Bell in the 90s. It really took off for me in the early 2000s when pixelated dolls were a huge thing and from there I built up my own websites and images. It’s always been a hobby and it’s only recently that I’ve started to do it professionally.
Q: How do you approach a cover image?
When doing work for someone else I always ask for a basic concept–if they have any in mind. If not I’ll ask for any palette preferences. Then maybe one or two words to describe their novel. Like for yours you said “gothic” and “fantasy” and I tried to incorporate that into the design. I also try to keep in mind the genre and what looks are most appropriate for it and make any suggestions I have from there. If it’s a romance I’m not going to have blood and creepy eyes on it. It’s really down to how the author communicates with me and what they want to convey to their audience. I don’t have a form they fill out. When making a cover for myself I usually focus on color first. Then, what is it I want people to assume about my story when they look at the cover. I guess I do that for other people too.
Q: What are your favorite cover art designs?
I love monochromatic and simple. It reflects in my designs. I dislike very busy covers because they’re overwhelming or distracting. I’m much more likely to notice a simple design with a bold title. I go for the look that attracts me as a customer. I also greatly dislike 3D images. I could see using a 3D program to set up a reference for a cover, but a cover that is 3D itself looks so unprofessional to me. I also don’t like when someone frankensteins a bunch of stock photos over a picture background. Yuck. I also like unique but legible fonts. There’s nothing worse than trying to decipher the title of a book. I’ve had instances where I needed to turn to the title page to figure out the title. You need to find that perfect balance between simple and interesting. Sorry, I guess this turned into what designs I don’t like.
Q: What programs do you use?
I use Paint Tool Sai, Paint Shop Pro 7, Paint.net, and Photoshop CS. Sometimes a plain piece of paper and pencil to sketch an initial concept.
Q: What other sources do you use?
When I search for materials to use, such as fonts, I always search for commercial use and royalty free. As an artist myself, I don’t want to use something someone else created without their consent. I never use clip art for both commercial and preference reasons. I create the images I use for covers myself in graphic art programs. I’ll use references (usually things from around the house or myself as a model) if I need them but it’s rare. For instance, on your cover I used a photo my husband took of my own hands because I couldn’t find any applicable references.
Q: What do you charge?
I do cover art for my friends for free. Otherwise, at the moment, I’m not doing any commissions. If I ever got into it on a pay scale I’m sure I would take into consideration many factors before deciding on a price.
Q: How do print covers differ from ebook covers?
They’re a mixture of more fun and more frustration. You have more room to fit in taglines and the publishing house, so more room to play in other words. Then again you have more to do. I create the ebook cover first and then build up the paperback cover with it.
Q: Do you do anything else for books?
I do ebook and pod formatting for my friends, but nothing beyond that.
Q: What advice do you have out there for aspiring cover artists and authors?
My most important advice is don’t do it yourself unless you know your way around a graphics program and have an eye for design. I also advise you check out the portfolio of any potential cover artists before making a deal with them. I would also stay away from pre-made covers, but that’s more of a personal choice. Most importantly, communicate, communicate, communicate.
Until Next Time…
A big thanks to Anne for putting up with my questions and answering them! Be sure to check out her tumblr and remember Dragon Bloode: Covet is available everywhere ebooks are sold! Until next time, keep on keeping on!