This is a reprint of one my posts over at Dollycas’s Thoughts. It originally appeared on June 9, 2011. It is one of my favorite posts and I wanted to be sure it was part of the history that came along with me to Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book. It also explains to new readers why I give credit to the artists and designers when I review a book.
Today’s book covers are absolutely gorgeous, the seem like works of art that should be framed and hung on walls to be enjoyed every day!!
This year I have started to give credit to the wonderful Cover Artists if they are listed in the book, but my interest kept growing and growing so I decided to contact an artist to see how a book cover was created. Teresa Fasolino was that artist and she gracefully agreed to Guest Post here today to share the process with us.
As an illustrator for so many Cozy Mysteries it is a real treat to learn that readers notice and appreciate the paintings on the covers of their favorite books and that your readers are interested in the process by which a book gets it’s cover. In a nutshell here’s the process of creating a painting for a Mystery Book Jacket.
The cover conference stage: When a new mystery manuscript arrives at the desk of an editor it’s “Conferenced” at a Cover Conference meeting where the editors divide up the lists of new manuscripts among the art directors. The editor discusses the new manuscript with the art director pointing out important scenes, clues and mystery elements. The suggestions along with a synopsis are passed on to the artist with the manuscript to help them understand what’s important to depict on the cover. It’s the art director who matches up the illustrator with the mystery series. I have heard of a new author asking for my work when shown past covers by different artists. I personally like to read the whole manuscript for imagery, settings and pictorial detail that are so important to get the feeling and texture of the story just right. Once in a while I might be given just a few chapters or important passages but prefer having the whole manuscript.
The sketch stage: After reading the story while underlining important passages the next stage of the process for the illustrator is to create and submit a sketch. I usually submit one sketch, but there could be two sketches submitted or one sketch with some variation in placement of the elements. This stage involves taking reference photos and gathering reference to draw and paint from. The sketch or sketches are submitted to the art director for comment. The art director shows the sketch to the editor for approval. This is the stage where any revisions to the sketch would be made including any need for more “bleed” or space for type.
The finish stage: Once the revisions have been made it’s on to the finish, which for me usually means a couple of weeks of work as my oil paintings are labor intensive with lots of “Cozy” details. There is only one piece of finished art. The art directors at Berkley usually work around my drawing to set a design for the series, which will then be followed for the rest of its life. Sometimes there is a separate designer in- house who works on designing the type but it is the Art Director who sets the look of the series. Finally the finished painting is turned in and must be approved. There are usually no revisions at this stage since any problems were caught in the sketch stage where changes are much easier to make.
Who knows what E Books will do to Book Jacket Illustration so far the computer age has not been kind to print and those of us who work in print media. The future is up to your readers.
Hope this is illuminating. By the way the art directors, editors and the authors at Berkley Prime Crime are very professional and so easy to work with. Mystery authors seem to be a delightful group and very appreciative of the cover art, some have honored me by mentioning my name and work in the acknowledgments.
Here is just a small example of Teresa’s Fabulous Work!!
She also designs stamps.
So I wasn’t far off. I would love one of Teresa’s paintings to hang on my wall any time. They are very beautiful and I will continue to give credit where credit is due. Don’t get me wrong I know we buy the books to read but with covers as awesome as these these books should just leap off the shelves and into our hands. The next time you start a new book take a good look at the page the lists the copyright, most paperback books list the Cover Illustrator and Cover Designer. Hardcover books show the information on the book jacket. We have come a long way from when I started reading when the covers were just solid colors with the Title and the Author shown.
Thank you so much Teresa for bringing us into the world of an illustrator, I look forward to all the covers in your future.
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