Friday, March 7, 2008
Ash-Tree Press is to be commended for their commitment to keeping classics of supernatural fiction in print. City of the Sea and Other Ghost Stories by Jerome K. Jerome is their latest book. The assignment was offered to me in February 2008. Chris Roden, the publisher, phoned me, explaining that the project was late and that there was "no time" to contact another illustrator). This is a left-handed tribute that means: 1) other illustrators were probably considered first; 2) I was probably considered last; 3) other illustrators were probably too busy; 4) I probably had nothing better to do. Etcetera. The original black and white image--from inventory--did not really refer to a sunken city. But, owing to judicious color selection (two ink colors) , the artwork manages to evoke an antediluvian megalopolis. Perhaps I should have added a starfish, guppies, and a brine-rusted anchor.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
This artwork was created for volume 4 of The Collected Fantasies of Clark Ashton Smith published by Night Shade Books. The graphic designer for the publisher will mute and darken the excessively vibrant colors so that the eyes of potential readers will not be injured . . . and portions of the mundane imagery will be obscured by innovative graphical devices (e.g., color stripes). The statues on the left are carefully positioned so that the largest possible barcode can conceal them. The strategic placement of the elements on the back cover also allow the designer's name to appear at exactly the same size as the name of the illustrator, lest anyone suppose that the months of effort that it takes to create an illustration is somehow more significant than the half-day that it takes a designer to craft a cover layout. All of these measures hint at the impossibility of creating an effective layout if the illustration is left unweakened.
Monday, January 7, 2008
A few years ago Night Shade Books requested a silver foil illustration for a five-volume collection of William Hope Hodgson's fiction. Much of Hodgson's fiction refers to the sea (he was a sailor) so an imaginative map seemed appropriate. One version of the illustration, with more details and finer lines, was used for the frontispiece. Details were simplified--and the lines thickened--for the dust jacket version which was printed with silver foil. The result was appealing enough to inspire another publisher to contact me about their "silver-foil" dust jacket, an opportunity that I declined. Preparing artwork for silver-foil printing is boring and interferes with my idiosynchratic style of drawing.
Friday, January 4, 2008
This is a preliminary layout which will be replaced (in about three weeks) with the final artwork. The author--Matt Cardin--and the publisher waited patiently for six months while I dawdled, awaiting "sacramental" inspiration. Alas, the Gods do not speak to me on cue. It's better to wait until the right concept materializes. It's better to wait until there is certainty. Otherwise, there's the likelihood of a false start.
Thursday, January 3, 2008
I've had the good fortune to create artwork for books published by Ash-Tree Press. More Tales of the Uneasy, published a few years ago, is a collection of spooky stories by Violet Hunt. The dust jacket for a book of ghost stories doesn't have to include a ghostly figure . . . or any figures, because absence can imply presence. The cottage implies that there is (or was) an inhabitant. The pink bird, so present on the front cover, is mysteriously absent on the back cover. Arguably, an ethereal mystery is evoked. Illustrations can be emblematic. Illustrations that are "narrative-driven" or "narrative-specific" are like a snapshot of an event, which, in a way, refers to photojournalism more than poetry.
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Acquainted with the Night was the first in an ongoing series of supernatural anthologies published by Ash-Tree Press. I'm not always a fan of my own artwork. I disliked the figures on the front panel because they are trite, and are generic enough to be Halloween clip-art. As far as I'm concerned, unoriginal equals unintelligent . . . and unintelligent equals unimaginative. Unimaginative work clutters fantasy and horror; and I when I fail artistically I add to this clutter. But the image on the back panel (praised by Tom Ligotti) is one of my favorite.