Of course, the words inside the covers are the most important thing about a book. But there’s no denying that a beautiful cover can draw the eye and convince someone to pick up a book which she otherwise might have passed over. We’ve been lucky enough to end up with a truly stunning cover for The Witch’s Kiss, so we decided to find out a bit more about the cover design process by interviewing the creator of our artwork, the lovely Lisa Brewster from Black Sheep Design
1) Why do you think cover design is so important?
Designing a cover is so important as it initially helps the consumer choose the book they wish to read ( judge a book by its cover). Based on their initial reaction to its engaging typography and imagery the reader makes a decision, whether this is seeing a book in a bookstore or online seeing a thumbnail image. Designers are conveying in a split second the author branding, age group, genre of the book, helped along with a shout-line to draw the reader into the content of the book. A lot of consideration goes into the styling and treatment of a cover depending on what’s most suitable. Illustrative, typographic or photographic approaches are pinned down to the hit the right target audience. I love working in different styles so it never gets boring!
2) Can you describe in general terms what you do: what is the process for getting from publisher’s instruction to finished cover?
As a general rule I receive a detailed brief from the publisher containing all the information I need, starting from the author name and title. The brief will explain the theme and feel of the book along with a synopsis of the story-line, key themes or events, descriptions of characters – any relevant details they think I may find useful in creating the cover. Sometimes a mood-board of other titles in the same genre will be listed for reference, to help me either get a sense of the style of book it is, or to emulate the success of similar book that’s already in the market.
3) How did you come up with the design for The Witch’s Kiss?
Within the brief I was provided with the details of a great black thorn forest. I thought immediately of the film Maleficent and Grimm woods as a starting point. I explored this concept in several different styles, all slightly sinister, illustrative, bold and iconic.
I usually provide a set of different visuals/styles to the client to have initial feedback on. This helps narrows down the solutions and direction the client wishes me to pursue and develop.
Inevitably there are changes with the sales team and publisher before we decide upon a final cover design. It’s a tricky balance refining the idea to have the best impact!
4) How did you end up as a cover designer? What alternative design based career would you like if you hadn’t gone down that route?
Growing up I wanted to be in animation. I was brought up on Disney, but after a work experience in advertising, a now mutual friend put me in touch with the guys at Blacksheep as he felt I was more illustrative based and would be more suited in publishing. That was twelve years ago!
5) What are your five favourite covers (designed by you or by others)?
1) GRIMM TALES by Philip Pullman (Paper Art by Cheong-ah Hwang and Matthew Young).
2) The Martian by Andy Weir.
3) Moby Dick cover by Herman Melville (Umberto Scalabrini).
4) Bête by Adam Roberts ( James Macey).
5) Tony and Susan by Austin Wright.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us, Lisa!
You can follow Lisa on Twitter: @lisablacksheep
And don’t forget to check out the Blacksheep website here: Blacksheep Design