My first foray into cover design was a massive disappointment. I knew that Anthem’s Fall needed a strong, thematic cover. It would be an absolutely essential component of the “book package”. But after last post’s versions, along with a few others, I realized that I wasn’t looking for cover design at all.
Not yet, at least.
I was looking for an image, an illustration. I didn’t need a nuanced cover (like last post’s versions). What I needed was a money shot to grab a potential reader's impression. An illustration had to come first—a big, bold, in-your-face illustration. An evocative and thematic work of art would anchor the cover in the sentiment I wanted to convey. Then I could worry about turning that illustration into a final cover.
This realization sent me on a path that ended up taking a LOT of time. I needed to find an artist. In hindsight this was a much more difficult task than I first would have thought.
Where to begin?
My search started on Deviantart.com, Behance.com, Pinterest, and gallery collections. I more or less roamed any online art assemblage and made a long list of artists whose style I thought might work. I also perused book covers that I liked, and hunted down the names of the artists who created them. Very few publishing houses actually hire in-house artists, so most of the illustrators who do cover art (even for the biggest publishing houses) also do freelance work. The right illustrator was out there, it was just a matter of finding him or her.
Remember, this final artist wasn’t being hired to paint a surrealist piece for my living room. I needed a clear, simple and commanding illustration that would translate well to thumbnail. Over many months, I worked on several types of drafts with different artists.
Here is one example.