Friday, January 15, 2016

Every Cover Tells a Story (but not the story you think)

I remember when I took my first design class.  It was the intro class for all art study, and it was all about design principles.  You know, balance, repetition, pattern, etc.  And often our assignments involved cutting out black squares and arranging them in ways that illustrated a design principle.

We weren't supposed to try to make a picture out of them or anything.  Just keep it pure abstract.  But I had already had some design, in film and photography school, and I couldn't help but see even pure abstract in terms of motion.  I always did my designs with an idea to where they were going.  So the squares scattered across a page weren't just showing balance or repetition or whatever the assignment was.  They were falling, or rushing, or tumbling or stopping.

Whenever the teacher looked over my shoulder, she would shake her head and say, accusingly, "You like to tell stories, don't you?"


Yes.  I do.

I also like coming up with ideas for stories more than just about any other thing.  And I like the way conceptual art -- particularly book covers -- "tells a story." 

All book covers tell a story.  All of them. Even plain, boring dissertation covers.  The story they tell is NOT the story inside the book.  Even when the cover has an illustration of a scene from inside the book, they are not telling the story of the book. Only the book itself tells that story.

A book cover tells the story of how you will feel reading the book.

This is why I really enjoy doing pre-made covers.  It's like writing lots of stories. 

Right now, I am not quite ready to open my own independent cover business.  Too much set up involved, lots of skills to polish and a portfolio to fill.

However, I am putting most of the covers up at Self-Pub Book Covers.  You can see my current portfolio there at Daring Novelist Covers.  (I'm also, slowly, setting up a portfolio at Deviant Art.)

I've done several dozen covers in the past few weeks.  Here is a look at this week's covers.

As you can see, it's a widely mixed bunch.  Nonfiction, hard-boiled, cozy/light-hearted.  This is a problem for sales, as I don't as yet have very many of any certain kind for someone to choose from -- but that's the advantage of putting them up on a site like SPBC. There are lots of all kinds of covers there.  Eventually, I'll have more of every type of cover.

In the meantime, here is another dozen, from last week.

My one regret is that SPBC doesn't let the artists do the typography.  Customers have a choice: they can set the type with SPBC's rather limited online interface, or they can download the cover without type and set it at home with their own fonts and software. 

As a result, I have to design around the limited (and often unskilled) typography choices most customers seem to opt for.  Eventually I'll set up my own site, and then I'll have fun with type. (And I'll likely take any covers that don't sell at SPBC, and "refresh" them with better typography.)

In the meantime, I have lots more covers than the ones you see here.  Check out the my full portfolio at SPBC.

See you in the funny papers.

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