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Entries in Cover Art (2)


The making of a book cover

Choosing book covers is like choosing what outfit you're going to wear to the bookstore. Do you go in footie pajamas with bed-head? Do you go in a grey, three-piece suit, wearing a nose-ring? Or do strap on a corset from the Victorian Age?

With WILLOW as well as HOTEL, I was asked for my input, which I benignly gave. I was hesitant because I was an art director in my previous career and never once was the process improved by the client saying, "Hey, I've got an idea!" That adage about a camel being a horse designed by committee was never more apt.

But when prodded I relented. And I didn't just send written ideas, I knocked out some rough (very rough) thumbnails in Photoshop.

And just like with HOTEL, my ideas might have been directional (at best) but the designs my editor came back with were 100x better that my ideas. That being stated, here are my roughs, and the eventual covers we had to choose from.


Here's an early design that we felt was too generic.


And now the good stuff, courtesy of The Book Designers.



Portrait of the artist as a middle-aged collector

I write for a living these days, but my background, oddly enough is in art and design. So it's been a strangely ironic, pleasurable, and fortuitous few weeks with regards to my former career catching back up to my present one.

It started when I was researching flop-houses in Seattle during the depression. This is one of those weird, esoteric moments like in Ghostbusters where Harold Ramis says with complete seriousness, "I collect spores, molds, and fungus." So...YES...I was eagerly reading about the economics and practical realities of flop-houses (don't judge me), when I stumbled upon an interview with one of my old art teachers—the late Bill Cumming. He grew up during the depression and waxed poetically about that time and those humble four-penny hotels (actually about 15¢, inflation, I suppose). Two weeks later I step off the elevator at some strange, nameless hotel, and there are three of Bill's paintings. I swear they were winking at me.

Known for his shoes, Louie Gong has created a few skateboards as well.In between those moments I happened to purchase some artwork. First was the original cover drawing for DC Vertigo's UNWRITTEN #14, by Yuko Shimizu.

And later I picked up a painting by Seattle artist Kathy Liao, and also this skateboard deck by Salish/Chinese artist Louie Gong.

Plus I donated to Molly Crabapple's Kickstarter campaign for Shell Game, her series of paintings about the pending/ongoing/future economic meltdown.

Now if I can just finish this new manuscript I can get around to buying that Bill Cumming painting I've had my eye on...

Yuku Shimizu, not to be confused with the Hello Kitty creator with the same name.