Do You Judge A Book By Its Cover?
Posted by Diana Murdock
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…..
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?
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 MurdockCalifornia-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 art, artist, book cover, Crystalyn Abercrombie, Diana Murdock, Diana Murdock's blog, dianamurdock.com, egyptian, judge a book by its cover, ouchie mama tattoo and piercing, pagen, paranormal, quill tattoo, snake, soul attachment, spiritual attachment, Tattoo, teenager, teens, wicca, YA novel, Young Adult. Bookmark the permalink. 31 Comments.