Behind the Cover – Karl Kwasny
(The Year of Shadows, by Claire Legrand)

by Diana Sousa

BehindTheCover

Karl Kwasny joins us to talk about the cover he did for The Year of Shadows, by Claire Legrand, published by Simon & Schuester, as well as the illustrations he did for the same book.

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How did you become an illustrator? Was it an area you always wanted to explore, or did it simply happen?

Well, I’ve always wanted to do something artistic, but it took me a while to discover exactly what that was. I bounced around various courses at university for a while until I ended up doing graphic design at QCA in Brisbane. I love design and typography and so on, but I didn’t want to end up working at some design studio doing work I didn’t care about.

So I decided towards the end of that course that I needed to have a proper go at being a freelance illustrator. I started sending out emails to every art director I could find the contact details for and eventually started getting a few jobs. Then I got an agent and work started coming in more regularly.

How did you get involved with this cover? Did Simon & Schuster contact you directly, or did they already know your work?

I think this one was through my illustration agency, actually. I’m not sure if the art director knew about my work beforehand. It’s hard to tell sometimes unless you ask.

How was the process of developing the cover? Was there a clear goal in mind?

The brief was fairly open to begin with, aside from the fact that they wanted a full bleed image, meaning the art goes off the edges of the cover. Although, on the final version there’s an ornamental border.

I did a few thumbnails of possible directions the cover could go in, and showed Lucy Cummins, the art director. She then chose a direction (thumbnail 5) and we started developing the final cover.

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Roughs

How was the author involved? Was there some back and forth conversation with Claire Legrand, any ideas or suggestions?

Well, in my experience the publisher tends to distance the author from the illustration process. I emailed Claire a few times to clarify some things, but the publisher much prefers if you don’t. I can understand why they take this approach – it makes it much easier for them to keep the process under control. If you have the illustrator interacting with the author and making decisions without the publisher being aware of it, it could cause some confusion.

Do you have pictures of earlier designs of the cover?

Just the early thumbnails of other design options and sketches for the cover we ended up with.

OliviaEarlyDesign  CoverVeryEarlyRough  BGPencils

What about the interior illustrations, how was the process there?

Well, as I recall I was given the manuscript and a series of illustration suggestions – the editor and the author went through and picked out parts of the story they felt ought to be illustrated. I picked my favourites and started working on them. Like the cover, I sent over a series of thumbnails first, then I was given the go-ahead to work on the final versions.

The deadline was pretty tight on this project, and I had several other projects to do simultaneously, so I ended up needing to substitute one or two of the more complex interiors for less detailed ones. I wish I had more time to work on the interiors because I really love the book, but there’s not much you can do once it goes to print!

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From your experience, does the publisher have the final say regarding the design of the book, or does the designer/illustrator have free rein?

The publisher definitely has final say on projects like this. They have to get all sorts of approvals from their marketing people and so on. If you’re working on your own project – your own intellectual property – I imagine you have a lot more freedom than if you’re working on someone else’s project through a publisher.

What can you tell us about the title typography?

Typography is one of my favourite things to work on. I seem to remember that I did a sketch one afternoon for the type, and sent it over to the art director to ask her what she thought. We ended up using that version for the final cover! I’m not sure how much there is to say about it really. They wanted something script-ish with some flowing embellishments. I always love experimenting with different ways to combine letters.

Was there anything particularly different or interesting about these illustrations and cover, interesting facts you’d like to share?

Well, this was my first proper book illustration project where I worked on both the cover and interior illustrations, so in that sense it was something of a milestone for me.

Finally, what are some of the favourite book covers that you’ve seen (recently or not), from other designers and illustrators?

Hmm, the one that most recently impressed me was Wild by Emily Hughes. I also discovered Henry Hikes to Fitchburg by D. B. Johnson the other day. I quite like the style, but mostly I like it because it teaches kids about Henry David Thoreau’s philosophy.

  


Thank you Karl for your time and your answers!

Here are other works Karl has done in the past:

    

Behind the Cover – Luke Lucas
(Falls the Shadow by Stefanie Gaither)

by Diana Sousa

BehindTheCoverToday I welcome to the blog Luke Lucas, the designer of Falls the Shadows by Stefanie Gaither, published by Simon & Schuster. Thank you Luke for being here!

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How did you become a designer and illustrator? Was it an area you always wanted to explore, or did it simply happen?

About half way through my first year of art school together with a friend we started a glossy print magazine and the rest is kind of history. It was really through creating layouts and lettering and design details for magazines that my obsession with lettering and illustration as a specialised career path was born.

How did you get involved with this cover design? Did Simon & Schuster contact you directly, or did they already know your work?

I have done quite a few covers with Simon & Schuster now. This one was through the art director for that specific title, Laurent Linn, and my rep here in Australia – The Jacky Winter Group.

How was the process of developing the cover? Was there a clear goal in mind?

Laurent was really interested in expressing the use of light and shadow to form a face in some way. I pitched the idea that that given there was the duality of the good and evil clone within the story line we could represent this by using the light for good and shadow for evil. I supplied a few sketches and the concept evolved.

How was the author involved? Was there some back and forth conversation with Stefanie Gaither, any ideas or suggestions?

I had no contact with Stefanie but I’m sure that the she was involved with the review process. I dealt directly with Laurent.

Do you have pictures of earlier designs?

This was one of the earlier rough drafts when we were still fleshing out the concept. The design changed quite a bit from here and subject details evolved to be more feminine but the core idea is represented here.

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From your experience, does the publisher have the final say regarding the design of the book, or does the designer (and in some small ways, the writer) have free reign?

In my experience it can really vary. I’ve worked on projects where the author is probably a little too involved and others where they appear to not really have much input at all. I’ve been briefed by authors directly also. For the most part, like on jobs like this one, it’s up to the designer to sell a concept to the art director or whoever briefs them but then the art director has to sell it internally to their superiors and the author.

Was there anything particularly different or interesting about this book cover, interesting facts you’d like to share?

I’m typically hired for crafting custom lettering so this job was quite nice in that it was more of a conceptual illustrative piece than strictly type.

Finally, what are some of your favourite book covers, whether they’re recent or not?

Of the books that I’ve read in the last few years I quite liked the use of colour in the cover for Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shtenygart. There are so many really though.

    


Thank you again, Luke, for your answers!

If you want to see more of Luke’s work you can check out his website and Behance!

  

Behind the Cover – Sarah J. Coleman
(The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Clarke, and Aristotle and Dante by Benjamin Sáenz)

by Diana Sousa

BehindTheCover

This week we welcome Sarah J. Coleman to the blog! Sarah has done some amazing work with typography and book covers, and as examples we have The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke, published by Strange Chemistry, and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, published by Simon & Schuster.

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Sarah graduated from the University of Central England (then called Birmingham Polytechnic) with a first class honours in Illustration, and she also won an award for her experimental typography. She made a lot of relevant contacts while doing research for her final project, and this led to her first pieces of commissioned work outside of college, as well as a job at the Royal Shakespeare Company.

How did you get involved with this cover? Did Simon & Schuster contact you directly, or did they already know your work?

My New York agent Bernstein & Andriulli, was contacted by Simon & Schuster.

How was the process of developing the cover (collaboration between photography and typography)? Was there a clear goal in mind?

They had an idea in mind and sent several example of my work that resonated with them for this cover, particularly ‘Amethyst Child’.

How was the author involved? Was there some back and forth conversation with Benjamin Sáenz, any ideas or suggestions?

He wasn’t!

  

How did you get involved with this cover? Did Strange Chemistry (Angry Robot) contact you directly, or did they already know your work?

Angry Robot, the publishers, they got in touch but via my London agent, CIA.

How was the process of developing the cover? Was there a clear goal in mind?

Yes, but I had quite a lot of leeway to come up with something. Again they knew what they had seen and liked about my work so I knew what my parameters were.

How was the author involved? Was there some back and forth conversation with Cassandra Clarke, any ideas or suggestions?

She wasn’t! Both authors only approved the final completed illustration.

Was there anything particularly different or interesting about this cover, interesting facts you’d like to share?

I enjoyed doing the research on the specific types of building they’d asked for. And the manticore is female; she needed re-drawing a couple of times.

From your experience, does the publisher have the final say regarding the design of the book, or does the designer/illustrator have free reign?

The publisher’s Art Director ALWAYS has final say of course, but in terms of whether the illustrator is briefed tightly or very loosely varies massively from job to job.

Finally, what are some of your favourite book covers, whether they’re recent or not?

I don’t really have ‘favourites’ as such – I applauded the Penguin Classics clothbound series and the Penguin RED classics. There are too many beautiful covers from history to mention – I have a collection of very old (18th century and upward) books whose covers are all beautiful but I couldn’t pick individuals, and the artist was often uncredited.

Any book which makes creative use of foil, of gold, embossing and traditional bookbinding techniques I will tend to gravitate towards, and also those which take risks and possibly put people’s noses out of joint – such as the recent photographic re-works of Roald Dahl’s books, packaged for an adult audience. A lot of people got very pissed off about those.

    


Thank you Sarah for your time and for these answers! If you want to see more of Sarah’s work you can go to her website Inkymole.