Do You Judge A Book By Its Cover?


I don’t know about you, but I DO judge a book by its cover – literally.  When at a bookstore or library, I look at the books displayed predominantly and I’ll always pick up a book because I like the look of its cover.  Whether or not I walk out the door with it, is a different story, but I will spend some time admiring the cover.  I often wonder about the thought process behind each one.  Whose vision was it?  Was it true to the story line?  Was it true to the author’s vision?  How much time was put into it?  What was truly vested in its creation?

When I began writing my upcoming novel, Souled, I knew what I wanted on the cover, but I’m art-challenged and what happens in my head short circuits on its way to my hands.  I did make an attempt, though, albeit pathetic, and I just wasn’t happy with it.

One day, after I had gotten my quill tattoo, I really started thinking about it (well, not really because there was never a question in my mind after the seed was planted) and decided who I would ask to design the book cover.  I had walked into Crystalyn Abercrombie’s tattoo studio and asked if she would be interested in taking on the project.  I don’t think I actually got the words out before she said yes.  The connection was made.  We both knew the Universe ignited.  Yeah, it was that awesome.

The result?  Perfection.  Exactly what I had envisioned.  She nailed it.  In fact, it’s my next tattoo.

So what did she do to make me her #1 fan?  I put some questions to her and now I share them with you…..

Crystalyn Abercrombie – Damn! This girl knows her stuff!

1.         Tell us a little bit about your background in art. 

I’ve enjoyed drawing for as long as I can remember. My Uncle Nick is an artist as well and would always send me drawing materials for birthdays or holidays. In 5th grade a local artist came into class and taught us how to duplicate photographs with graphite pencils. My mom signed me up for lessons with that artist, and that’s when I started to take art seriously. I fell in love with drawing the human body and portraits of people and animals. Since then I entered every art contest I could. I would always place in the top three and have my art picked by the class to be featured in projects like yearbooks or choir t-shirts. I took various art classes that were offered in high school and some in Spokane, and worked with different mediums like acrylic paints, wire, clay, found objects, stained glass and tile for mosaics, photography, calligraphy & graphic art.

2.         What is your preferred medium and why?

That’s a tough question! I really enjoy making mixed media art, using a little of this and a little of that, usually involving some sort of natural element and acrylic paint. I like to create art with dimension. Currently in my spare time I like  to string and paint native American style hand-held drums with pagan inspired goddess images.

3.         When did you begin to draw?  What was one of the first things you drew?  What makes it memorable?
I’ve pretty much had a crayon in my hand since day one! We never had a lot of money growing up, but we could afford paper and crayons, so art was always my favorite form of entertainment. In first grade my dad was a construction worker, and addicted to yard sales, so he would pick up oil paints from garage sales for me, and I would paint flowers with butterflies and big yellow suns on his scrap pieces of 2 x 4’s I’d find around the yard. I can also remember doing a pencil and crayon drawing of a family portrait. Memorable because I had put a heart polka-dot pattern on my mom’s shirt, and my parents smirked at the two hearts that were drawn right where nipples should go.  I have been censored on my human figure drawings several times in middle and high school, and it makes me laugh to remember it started way back in first grade!

4.         What is the process you went through to create the cover for Souled?

Step 1:  Consulting with the author, Diana Murdock.  She told me she wanted a symbol to represent the Egyptian clan that some of the book’s characters were involved with.

Step 2:  Reading the novel to completely understand where she was coming from, and get the artwork to really resonate with it.

Step 3:  Hitting my symbol books to learn more about what symbols Egyptians typically used and what meanings they associated with them.  From there I gathered symbols I felt appropriately represented aspects of the novel from the Egyptian and old world cultures.

Step 4:  Putting together a rough draft of my idea along with pages of symbol explanations for Diana to look at.  This way she was able to see why I chose to draw the symbol as I had.  I gave her time to think it over and decide on any changes she wanted me to make.  This step went back and forth only twice with the actual symbol before we nailed it down, and then once more for the style of the novel’s cover as a whole. We seemed to be on the same page at every step of the way.

Step 5:  Sketching a rough layout, deciding on what medium would be best, and gather what supplies were needed.  Of course I chose to do a mixed medium piece, and photograph it when finished so it would look as realistic as possible.  I purchased a brown piece of scrapbooking paper as a base to give it the old bound leather book feeling, some antiquing silver stuff to give the look of old metal embellishments, and a red rhinestone for the snake’s eye because drawing or painting it on wouldn’t have achieved the effect I wanted.

Step 6:  Printing my layout onto my scrapbook paper.

Step 7:  Using graphite pencils to draw in the snake completely

Step 8:  Metal embellishments with the silver antiquing liquid.

Step 9:  Using graphite pencils to draw details onto the metallic areas, and around the cover to give it some depth and shadows for a more realistic sort of feel.

Step 10:  Another consultation to make sure Diana was happy with the results.

Step 11:  Photographing the final piece with the rhinestone eye in place.

Step 12:  Computer graphics stuff which involves uploading the photograph into my graphic design program, having a consultation with Diana to choose font type and where she wanted to see the title and her name, saving that project as a high resolution JPEG file, and voila! Diana received it in her email’s inbox.

5.         Did you read the novel before creating the artwork? 

Of course. It was really the only way for me to feel like I could understand what my art needed to represent. I’ve always loved anything paranormal and magical so I was all over it! Being from the same town as in the book and having gone to high school here really made it fun to read as well, I felt like I was right there with the characters at every turn. I really loved it, and I can’t wait for the sequel!

6.         Where did the inspiration come from? 

The passages from the sorceress and the element manipulation magic.  There’s a line early on about flames twisting together like snakes in the hands of one character, that is what sparked inspiration initially.

7.         The symbol is very Egyptian.  Do you typically lean in this style in your artistic work or was this a special direction for this book?

This is actually my first ever Egyptian style piece. I knew we wanted to represent an old world magic clan and I initially thought Celtic or Pagan because that is what I lean toward heavily in my personal symbolic art, but Diana mentioned Egyptian so I had to hit my symbols books in order to pick out the right symbols to resonate with the novel.

8.         Where else has your work been published?

Down There, The Wise Woman’s Way by Susan Weed in 2011

9.         Have you ever designed any artwork for an author?

This cover is the first author I have worked with during the design process. My other published illustrations were submitted into an open illustration call, so I designed them completely and sent them off to New York to compete against whoever else had submitted illustrations as well.  As a tattoo artist I’m constantly designing various things for clients.  Sometimes it’s fitting multiple images into one design or creating something from scratch.

10.       Would you be interested in designing more book covers?  If so, do you have a favorite genre you’d like to design for?
I would absolutely love to do this again! Fantasy and Paranormal are probably my favorite to read, but as far as what I like designing for best, I have yet to find out.  I’d love to try everything and see if I can eventually answer that, so bring on your ideas!

11.       Besides this book cover, where do you gather most of the inspiration for your tattoo designs and artwork?
My personal inspiration comes from the beauty of nature and my spirituality.  I resonate with aspects of Paganism, Wiccanism, and some Native American cultures.  I love to involve symbolism, balance and simplicity in my personal designs, but when designing for clients I really try to understand where their inspirations are coming from, so my art will vary greatly from piece to piece.

12.       Where can others reach you if they are interested in commissioning you for their projects?, 208-610-6527.

13.       Where we can view your work?

My biggest portfolio is on my Ouchie Mama Tattoo & Piercing page on Facebook.  Unfortunately it’s all tattoo work at the moment, but a lot of it is my own design work.  Now that I know people might be interested in seeing more of my work, I will start adding some different stuff to it.


Thank you so much, Crystalyn, for taking the time to share this process.  I’m thrilled we connected and I look forward to having you on board for other projects!

Please be on the lookout for the release of Souled this spring!


About Diana Murdock

California-grown, writer of contemporary and YA paranormal with enough energy to write, raise two boys, run, and dream.

Posted on March 28, 2012, in Paranormal, soul attachment, Souled, spiritual attachment, Tattoo, Teenager, Uncategorized, YA Novels, Young Adult and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 32 Comments.

  1. Maria Gallardo

    Waaaay cool! So excited!

  2. This is so cool! It looked Celtic to me at first. I love what she did with it, especially the red rhinestone for the eye.

  3. Fabulous! Thanks for sharing this interview, and congrats on getting the perfect cover. 🙂

  4. I remember when you showed me the finished design on Skype. It was the love from first sight. I am a watercolor artist and seeing such a cool vision stirs a lot of enthusiasm in me. Now learning the details of design process for this cover makes it that much more exciting.

    I can not wait to read Souled now, and it is not only because of the fabulous cover (I also judge the book by its cover). It is because I loved your first book, Again, and I know this one will be even better.

  5. This is AWESOME, love seeing the process. And I love the book cover.

  6. kathleenmulroy

    I’m one of the lucky women in the world who has a tattoo created by Crystalynn…. a gorgeous butterfly on my right calf. This is a very big deal for me because I never, ever thought I’d get a tattoo. It is, of course, highly symbolic. She is such a wonderful artist. Diana, I loved seeing the how the two of you created the cover for “Souled.”

  7. Very interesting, Diana. It was cool to see the entire thought process, as well as the individual steps that got us to the finished product… What? I wasn’t going to say anything about further tattoos. Honest, I wasn’t. 😉
    You know I kid. If you’re happy, I’m happy. 🙂
    And I will definitely be lurking when that new book comes out. How much will an autographed copy cost me?
    *hugs* from your boy in Cali.


    • Hey, Jimmy. I laugh when you say you’re not kidding, because I think you cringe when you type it! But with someone like Crystalyn inks a body, it is just an extension of their personality. Besides, she is so good at it! I think I’ll put this one on the side of my calf. What do ya think?

  8. What a fascinating process! Crystalyn is truly a talented artist and her beautiful work is an incredible asset to accompany your already awesome new novel. I’m waiting to download!

  9. Absolutely gorgeous, Diana and Crystalyn. So evocative. Can’t wait to read the book!

  10. First thing, Diana: I love the cover! If people didn’t judge a book by the first visual they see of it, then what’s the point of a cover design? Cover art sells books.

    I really enjoy listening to an artist go through the process of turning something verbal into a visual. Crystalyn is a great artist and her story is so interesting! I’m wondering if I could present an idea for a cover to her. What do you think, Crystalyn?

    • Thank you, Dannie! I was amazed at the lengths she went to in order to get what I wanted on paper. She’s a natural, so it wasn’t a stretch for her. I’ll be sure that she sees your message!

  11. That is so cool you used your tattoo artist! I bet she was super thrilled that you asked. You know I love the cover ~ a rhinestone eye! This book is going to be so amazing and I’m so happy you have a cover that you love. Crystalyn totally rocks and so do you!

  12. Love the art work! Great job. 🙂

  13. crystalynjewell

    I just wanted to say thank you to Diana for all this exposure! And thank you to everyone who left such amazing comments! 🙂 It makes my day (month, really) to hear how much this piece is enjoyed! I am willing to hear and work with anyone who’s interested. I really enjoy creating this type of art. You can contact me through email at with your ideas or questions.
    Again, thank you, thank you, thank you! ❤

  14. How very cool! I too am a HUGE fan of great cover art. How wonderful to read this story of how it came to fruition :)))

  15. You know, I read this the very first day you posted it. I’m sorry it took me so long to get here to comment.

    Thank you for doing this! I always wondered about the process of creating a book cover and it has been going through my mind a lot. I have no idea what to put on mine when the book is into its final stages. It’s an awesome cover! Love it!

  1. Pingback: Sunshine and Other Simple Pleasures « Fabio Bueno

  2. Pingback: Time To Soul-e-brate! « Diana Murdock, Author

  3. Pingback: Monthly Mash-up: 10 Writing Craft Books And Blog Posts | Author's Corner @ Kindle Nation Daily

  4. Pingback: 10 Writing Craft Books And Blog Posts | Writer on a Shoestring Budget

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: