Welcome to another installment of Confessions of a Cover Artist. When I saw Selina Fenech’s work I was blown away. Unlike me, Selina isn’t just a cover artist, she’s an amazing illustrator, who also has several illustrations in her YA dark fantasy novel, Memory’s Wake. Though the story looks awesome, I admit I bought her book mostly for the pictures and can’t wait to read it. It’s in my TBR pile right now. Though Selina isn’t currently taking clients until this fall, she still sells some amazing premades that would make beautiful cover art.
SF: I’ve loved writing and drawing since I was a child. Illustrated books had a huge influence on me, mostly fairytales, and I always dreamed of being able to make pictures like the ones in the books. In high school I succumbed to peer pressure and stopped reading books as much (reading wasn’t considered cool at my school, such a shame!), and turned my attention more towards visual art, and pursued my art career from then onwards in one way or another (first I wanted to be a comic book artist, then a children’s book illustrator, then a graphic designer, then fantasy artist). I’ve thankfully been very successful with my artwork, and have made a living with my art since 2003. It was after a brush with cancer in 2008 that I decided I wanted to pursue my other childhood dream, of being an author. I’ve been putting a lot of my attention to that goal now. Part of me still loves the sequential art format (i.e. comics) and illustrated books, so my first book I released, Memory’s Wake, includes 44 illustrations I did specifically for it.
TW: What have you learned along the way?
SF: Getting into writing has been a steep learning curve, but so much fun. I had a story in my mind for years that I wanted to share, but I realised I hadn’t really learned the craft of storytelling, or the craft or writing. I didn’t just want to throw words on a page just to say I wrote a book and get my story done, I wanted it to be done well. I wanted to learn how to write well. In the past four years since I really dove back into writing, I’ve probably bought and studied about fifty books on the art of writing and storytelling, and read many more online tutorials. I joined online critique groups (specifically sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com was fantastic) where I learned from other writers. I made a conscious decision to approach storytelling with the same professionalism as I did my art career.
TW: What mistakes, if any, did you make early on when designing art?
SF: Human proportions have always been difficult, and I made a lot of mistakes with them early on. Once I even drew a character’s foot on back-to-front (they were sitting cross legged and I didn’t think enough about how the foot came out of that). As a practice in humility, I keep an almost complete archive of all my artwork at http://selinafenech.com/archives/ so that people can see all my old and embarrassing work.
SF: I’ve been closed to commissioned art for many years now. Like many artists, I was burned by one or two bad clients, and as I didn’t need the commission money anymore I stopped taking them. Here’s the big BUT- I’ve been loving being part of the indie author community, and would love to offer my artwork to other indie authors for their covers. Right now, I’m midway through an illustration project for a publisher with a looming deadline and much work still to do, but once it’s done (November 2012) I’m planning to open up to book cover commissions again! Until then, many of my existing artworks are available for use on covers. If an author is interested, just get in touch and we’ll work something out.
TW: List in order, the five most important elements of a good cover.
- Indicative of the genre/target reader
- Relevant to the story
- Professional typography (many covers, no matter how great the image, are let down by bad typography.)
- An eye catching image (or eye catching text and design if there is no actual image)
- True to the story- more something that annoys me personally, where a detail on the cover doesn’t match the story, e.g. model’s eye colour is incorrect.
SF: Poor typography is one of the hallmarks of self-published covers. Even complete amateurs with a decent eye and good taste can put together some great looking graphics, but typography is an art form in itself, and without some understanding of the art and science of type, it’s rare that the text on a book cover is going to look good.
TW: What advice would you give to the indie author trying to design cover art?
SF: On typography again, if you aren’t sure what you’re doing, follow the Keep It Simple rule. No more than two fonts on the cover (including variations of the same font), and a simple ALL CAPS, Serif font (Trajan is great, widely used on movie posters) will keep things classy with little room for error. Check out some professional book covers and see how they lay out their text as a guide as well, although, many mass published books will have the author name way more prominent than the title itself. For Indie authors, it’s probably better to have a bit more balance, or emphasis on title instead of name.
SF: I almost exclusively use Photoshop CS5 for all my design work and also my digital painting work. I am also spoiled in owning a Wacom 24HD, which is a pressure sensitive screen for digital art. I paint straight into the screen!
TW: Tell us a little about your novels. Where can we buy them?
SF: I write exclusively to the young adult market so far. My first novel, Memory’s Wake, is a dark fantasy with a Victorian flavor, and Emotionally Charged is a paranormal romance novella, about super-powered teens who’s abilities are charged by other people’s emotions.
SF: Lost in a world of magic and monstrous fairies, a troubled sixteen-year-old with no memories must discover who she is, before she is discovered by those who want her dead.
Thanks, Selina for stopping by my site and sharing your beautiful drawings. I can’t wait to read Memory’s Wake. 🙂 Tara
Selina Fenech – Portfolio Website
Fairies and Fantasy Pty Ltd – Selina’s Online Art Store
Memory’s Wake – Illustrated Fantasy Novel by Selina Fenech