I’ve always wished that I were more of an artist. I draw crappy bears and I did the bomb on the cover of Post-Apocalyptic Nomadic Warriors, but I can’t bring to life the scenes I have in my head without a few thousand words. Still I draw a great deal of inspiration from visual pieces. I got a chance to talk to Regina Wamba, a graphic artist and book cover designer. I appreciate that a cover designer’s work must be difficult because not only do they have to find their own inspiration, it has to match that of the client/author. I know it can be trying so I thought I’d ask about the process to help others not annoy designers like I no doubt annoyed mine.
Why do you think I need a great cover? I wrote a great book. Isn’t that enough?
Of course you need an attractive cover. As human beings we are naturally drawn to attractive, beautiful sights. Covers are just another aspect to beautiful things. Just like great product packaging, beautiful paintings, scenery, people… the list goes on. It’s proven that we first see what’s on the outside, and then if that draws our attention…we peek for more information.
Could you show us some of your work?
Of course! Here are a few samples and you can find all my work on my facebook profile here or deviant art or my personal website!
Since you’re not doing these designs in crayon and macaroni, I’m guessing you’ve got a background in art and/or design. Could you tell us a bit about your background?
Absolutely! Well, it didn’t just happen that I decided to go to school, get a degree and start doing graphic design. Actually, I started as a fine artist first. Painting, color pencils, pastels, watercolors, charcoal, and more. I actually had no idea what graphic design was, and never thought I could relinquish my skills to a computer. But when the time came for college, it was just the right fit. I decided on Brown College in Minnesota, and got my degree in Visual Communications or Graphic Design. I couldn’t be happier! Especially as I grow and learn as a designer, the more I learn and find my passion.
How do you work with an author to create a book cover concept? Do you read the book?
Not always. Some prefer I do. Those who want to see what I would come up with without them interfering usually like me to read the book first to give my ideas. Others give me a really good synopsis and description of what they are looking for, and some just a few chapters.
Let’s pretend I’m an author, what kind of information could I give you that would help lead to a great cover?
It depends. Do you want me to come up with my own interpretation of the book? Or do you have your own ideas? Those who want to have a really big impact and have specific ideas usually send me pictures they like, art they have seen, or even sketches of how they believe it should be set up.
Those who want to give me “free reign” usually give me the book and say “Let me know when you’re done!” I get to work and when finished I give my own ideas of what inspired me for a cover. Sometimes I dream about the cover or images flash…it’s like instant inspiration!
As an author, I’m curious, what kind of things could I ask for that would be unreasonable and completely annoy you?
Most of the time people just don’t get the time and creativity involved. They are hoping for instant gratification. I am a pretty easy person to work with, but sometimes when people don’t respect the time involved it takes to make a cover or create something custom, it can get annoying. 😉 As for anyone who puts their heart into something (artist, author, mechanic, etc)… We all hope that the receiving end will respect what has been done to produce it.
Why couldn’t I just grab an image off the web and make my own cover? I’ve got PowerPoint on my computer, you know. I’m pretty handy in it. People at work love my pie charts and graphs. You should see the Q4 report I did last year. It had 94 builds!
Because it’s illegal. You would have to track down the owner of such picture and ask specific permission. Most websites you will see a Copyright on the bottom – that usually covers ALL images and ALL information you see on the site.
Well, if it’s not okay to steal from the web, where do you get your images?
There are stock sites like Dreamstime, Istockphoto, Bigstock and more… always read their terms before, some do not like you to re-sell their images, and some are fine with just covers.
I also have some connections through Deviant Art with some stock providers that say we can use their art for covers, with just the link back or mention of their stock.
Let’s talk money. How much are we talking here? At what point do you start to charge for revisions? Or do you?
It depends how much goes into the project. If we are talking a very simple design then I round to a flat rate of 2-3 hours of time, and that usually covers all the revisions. For the bigger projects, I do the same, but usually make it clear that once we hit a certain number of hours, we will re-assess the situation. I am very easy to work with, so I have never had a problem with my method.
Why shouldn’t I just get one of those crappy, pre-designed covers that are so cheap? Hint: The correct answer here involves some form of the phrase, because they’re crappy.
Well, I guess my answer would be “you get what you pay for” and leave it at that. 😉
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I’m wondering what other questions authors usually have, that I could answer! Let me know, I would be happy to answer the best I can!
There you have it. Let the questions rip. And don’t forget to check out Regina’s other work at www.maeidesign.com/digital-art. What I’ve placed here is only a few examples of some very fine work.