One of the reasons for my (somewhat interrupted) hiatus, aside from wanting a stress-free month for writing, was to regain my happy thoughts about my artwork. I’d grown bored with the style of cover work that I was doing, and wanted a chance to start again with a fresh outlook.
I’ve recently come to a realisation, though…it isn’t so much my work that I was bored with, but the style of cover currently in vogue (at least in the area that I most often work in, which is fantasy and young adult). You see the same stock used over and over, and there are genres of cover that I personally dislike such as bare male torsos. I mean, I’m a big fan of fit, sexy men, but I hate bare abs covers. Girls in pretty dresses have come and gone, as well as Big Face covers. So much of it, though, just looks the same.
Illustrated covers have fallen out of vogue for the most part, and photomontaged covers using commercial stock reign on self-published books. Obviously, part of this has to do with cost – illustration is definitely not inexpensive. I think it also has a bit of an old-fashioned vibe, especially on fantasy covers (who doesn’t remember the greats such as Frazetta, Rowena Morrill and Jody Lee?). There are books that have used “designer-y” graphic covers to good effect, and there are also stunning painted covers such as those done for the Expanse series by artist Daniel Dociu. That kind of crazy genius talent is rare, however.
What I’ve been trying to do in these last few days is to learn how to paint. I do paint on covers, of course…but although I’m great with colour and shadow and highlight I absolutely suck at the bones of an image. I can’t draw. This is a real problem, and I want to go back and take my teenage self who refused to take any art classes because everyone was trying to push me into it…and I want to just smack her. “Oh, no, everyone says that I should be an artist so I’ll refuse. I’m going to travel and write.” Well, guess what? You didn’t, and now going back and learning to draw properly is a bitch.
I’ve been posting the speed-paint images that I’ve done recently to Twitter (sorry guys!!!) in an effort to stay honest. I won’t post them here, as at this point they’re pretty sucky. But I’ll work on it until they’re not so sucky and hopefully someday they’ll be good enough that I can consider them to be professional enough for covers. Even though everything feels horrible right now, and it’s embarrassing to show anyone these rough little sketches, eventually they’ll morph into something worthwhile.
It’s never too late to rectify the mistakes of your past. :)