To celebrate the upcoming launch of a brand-new sequel Who Put Her in? has it’s own shiny new cover, courtesy of the hugely talented Ian Bristow. We took the opportunity to ask him a few searching questions about the process.
Q1. You read this book long before getting the chore of making it a shiny new cover. How helpful is it to have read and enjoyed a piece if you are artwork for it?
Oh, it is immensely helpful to have read and enjoyed a book before doing the cover art. That being said, a very similar benefit can be gained from a good excerpt of the scene the author wants captured in the art (or typically the mood of the scene). Covers are not usually an exact replica of a moment in a scene due to the necessary differences in the art of writing and painting. With writing, the author needs to show you the three-hundred-and-sixty-degree view of the world without beating you down with dense descriptions. It needs to move and flow and feel effortless. Painting, on the other hand, needs to capture a freeze frame of one passing moment in that writing that sells the whole of its mood, emotion and energy. It needs to be detailed and focused or it will never accomplish that.
Q2. Even having been given an idea of how the writer thought the heroine should look, how did you go about making her so human and real?
The short answer is that I focused on her expression and tied it to the other major element of the cover – a burning barn. Selling emotion is one of the main keys to humanizing characters. For example, think of what Disney has been able to do with animals and inanimate objects. Expression truly does humanize just about anything. The other important bit was texture. The world is textured. Look at your skin, your shirt, anything. These textures are subtle and easy to overlook, but without them in a painting, you lose a sense of realism faster than you can say lose.
Q3. I have often wondered what criteria a cover artist applies when choosing a suitable font. Please put me out of my misery…
Hahaha! It is just not easy, period. Choosing a font is a huge deal and has a greater impact on the feeling of the cover than I think most viewers could ever possibly imagine. Here are my hard, fast rules. 1. Clean/legible 2. Context sensitive 3. Not too close to hyper-iconic fonts from pop culture. I think those three rules are the path to success in almost all cases.
If you would like to find out more about Ian Bristow's cover designing services, go to Bristow Design or look for Ian on his Website, check out his awesome timelapse art videos with his own original music on YouTube or follow him on Twitter.