Monday, April 13, 2009

Cover Artist James Griffin


Janet here. I’m excited to have James Griffin, a fabulous artist, as my guest in Seekerville today! James created the cover for my second book Courting the Doctor’s Daughter. I love the cover so when I noticed GRIFFIN in the left-hand bottom corner, I Goggled James and found his Web site. His beautiful covers and paintings blew me away! At the time, he and both happened to be in Sarasota, Florida. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to meet the artist and own a Giclee Print of my cover, soon to hang in my office.

In honor of James’ visit, I will give away a copy of my May 12 release of Courting the Doctor’s Daughter, Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical. Please leave a comment along with your e-mail address if you wish to be included in the drawing. Tina will announce the winner on the weekend edition.

I’ve brought an egg and ham bake with fresh fruit and strong coffee this morning. So dig in while you learn more about how covers are created from artist James Griffin.

JD. Welcome James! How long have you been a cover artist? How did you get involved creating cover art? How have covers changed over the years?

JG. Thank you for inviting me on your blog! It was a pleasure to meet you in person a few weeks ago.
I started illustration in 1976, so it’s been over 32 years. When I graduated from Pratt Institute I wanted to paint “pure art”, untouched by crass commercialism. It’s a fantasy about art a lot of people carry around. The idea that the world will find and support you because your work is so good and so original actually ruins a lot of young artists’ careers.

But back then, it was alive in me, so I scraped by helping to restore the old brownstones that lined Brooklyn’s lovely avenues. I was doing paintings that were ever more realistic in style, a profoundly unpopular genre during the heyday of abstract art. Galleries weren’t interested at all in my work, and I began to re-think the “pure art” thing. About that time I met Charlie Gehm, an experienced illustrator who was making a good living painting book cover illustrations. He thought I would be good at it and took me on as an apprentice for a little while, but long enough to get me started in the business. It was a novel concept for me, - making a living by painting!

I used photography and models from the start, shooting in black & white. It was a one-man operation, too, with me getting the costumes, setting up lights, directing and shooting and hoping it all looked good when the film was developed!

Now, I work with a photographer, using digital cameras that show me instantly on a computer screen what I’m getting. There’s a person in charge of costumes, another assistant who books models, arranges schedules, sets up and breaks down the set and of course me, who sketches and plans it all and gets to direct the whole thing. One thing that hasn’t changed in the passing of time is that we still have only an hour to do a shoot, no matter how many scenes there are!

JD. That’s fascinating! How has the process changed? Please explain how digital paintings are done in terms we can understand.

JG. The computer has really altered the way I work. I was actually wishing for something like today’s computers, (only without the crashes, etc.). My way of designing had already incorporated the photocopier, which I used to print out enlargements and reductions that I then cut up and pasted down in order to paint over them. That was pretty primitive, but it was a method of sketching that opened up a whole lot of new design ideas for me. When I saw that I could do all of that cutting, pasting and resizing and way more in the computer, I was really excited.

But it wasn’t until the tastes of the book publishers changed almost overnight from the look of oil paintings to a sleek, almost mechanical style produced on computers that I was forced to invest in a computer and a bunch of accessories. Almost overnight the painted cover illustration became old fashioned. I took a course at Westchester Community College in New York and learned the basics of Photoshop, still a pretty young program then.

Photoshop is still my main program, though I have added others to it in my digital paint box, like Painter, Art Rage, Cararra, Sketchup and others. Some of those mentioned are 3D programs, which I use to construct 3 dimensional settings whenever I need a special or hard to find scene, like a dizzying view down a palace stairs, or a view of the deck of a sailing ship, from above, out on the water.

I never liked the slick photographic look that publishers had fallen in love with and kept pushing for a painterly appearance in my illustrations. Some times it helps to be both stubborn and patient, because eventually the publishers embraced my painted style and now of course, are urging everyone to copy it!

There is no one way to do a digital painting, but mine usually begin with a lot of research in my picture files and on the web. I usually form some kind of mental image of what the image could look like, but try not to be too stuck on that, because other ideas are often inspired by the research I do.

I try to get the Historical period across as convincingly as possible by paying attention to the costumes, architecture and scenery. I work with pencil sketches and hand-drawn computer sketches, using a pressure-sensitive stylus and tablet, to work out the composition. I figure out where the main action is going to be and how the foreground, middle ground and background are going to work together.

If it’s a cover with prominent figures, I’ll arrange a shoot at the studio I use in New York. That means, picking out the models, providing costume sketches and detailed sketches with lighting and acting notes. When we’re doing the shoot it’s a bit like a silent movie, in that there are no lines, so the actors have to show their emotions by using their bodies, face and hands. It’s terrific training for actors and models, because they have to be able to jump into a part immediately, whether it’s a mystery, a romance or a sci-fi book. And for me it’s an intense directorial workout, because I’m the one responsible for capturing the right mood and look for my illustration and to get everyone to work together smoothly. It’s hard work, but it’s also a whole lot of fun!

When I have all my material together, pictures from the shoot, images that will be used to create the background and my sketches, I start assembling them in Photoshop. At this point it’s a bit like a collage, - a tree from here, hills from there, sky from somewhere else. If I am using a scene I invented in 3D, I’ll bring the rendering into Photoshop and integrate it with photographic elements. I usually do major “surgery” on the figures, strengthening a jaw line, adding muscles, adding to bust lines and hair, etc.

Once it’s all working I take it into Painter and play with paint textures, before bring it back into Photoshop. From then on it’s pure painting in the computer. This is when the magic really happens as the colors are brought out or pushed back, things are added and subtracted and a general whipping the thing into shape takes place.

JD. How much information do publishers impart to help create their covers? How much time do they give you? What skills have you honed over the years that enable you to achieve the author’s vision and your sense of art?

JG. In the past they used to send me whole manuscripts, which I had to read and figure out how best to portray the book in a cover illustration. Now it tends mostly to be vague one-sentence directions and I’m supposed to figure it out! Sometimes they don’t even give me the time period, or they say something like “Victorian”, which is a 60-year period with huge fashion changes from beginning to end. I get the editors to clarify, so I don’t end up having to make costume changes. Rarely do art directors give me sketches at all. They’re just too busy, so they depend on illustrators with a track record of getting it right.

Having such minimal direction isn’t as freeing, as you might think. It actually puts the marketing and positioning of the book on the illustrator’s shoulders. I handle it by looking at previous books by the author, if available, to get a feel for what market niche they’re in and how they’ve been presented before. Then I try to do something in that vein, but better. If no previous books exist I try to intuit the feeling of the book and just create something beautiful, with lots of room for type. Sometimes I’m completely off base and have to do a new round of sketches, but I’m determined to give them something that will help sell the book. When I realize how much work and care goes into writing these books and how much is riding on getting a decent cover, I feel humbled by the responsibility.

JD. In your bio, you estimate you’ve created around 3,000 covers for such clients as Avon Books, Ballantine Books, Berkley Books, Dell, Doubleday, Harcourt, Harlequin, Holt Rhinehart Winston, Little Brown, New American Library, Random House, Rounder Records, The Bradford Exchange, The Wall Street Journal, Viking Penguin, Italian Vogue, Zondervan and Zebra. An impressive list and number! For what well-known authors have you designed covers? Have any of your covers won awards?

JG. I’ve won various awards for my illustrations over the years and have had the pleasure of creating covers for many prominent authors, including Saul Below, Marilyn French, Charles Frazer, Jeff Shaara, Nora Roberts, Debbie Macomber, Victoria Alexander, LaVyrle Spencer, Martin Cruz Smith and others. In some cases I’ve been assigned the same book years later when the publisher is re-doing the look for a new edition, such as with LaVyrle Spencer’s Morning Glory and Martin Cruz Smith’s Rose.

JD. Tell us about your passion—painting. When did you know you wanted to be an artist? What factors influenced you? Does creativity run in your family?

JG. I knew I wanted to be an artist at around 10, when I began to realize it was an actual profession. Art was a way for me to get in touch with myself, sort of like meditation and also got me attention in a large family where attention was scarce. My father was very musical and my mother drew well, but neither pursued these talents professionally. They did, however encourage me to follow what I was best at and I’m very grateful.

JD. In order to survive, authors may need to reinvent themselves, changing genres and using pseudonyms. How have you adapted to the marketplace? How has your art evolved over your career? What are you working on now?

JG. I always keep an eye on the marketplace and what’s happening in illustration, but I always lose my way when I try too hard to do what everyone else is doing. It’s also not fun. I’m constantly experimenting with techniques and ways of playing with imagery. Sometimes these experiments go nowhere but often the lead to a new way of working. It’s a process that keeps my work alive and evolving.

Currently, in addition to the illustrations, I am doing oil paintings for galleries that deal with Florida, Maine and New York City, three places I frequent. A long-running series of allegorical women who embody the forces of nature is also in the works.

JD. Are you a member of a group of artists that meet either in person or on-line to give support and/or inspiration?

JG. Nothing formal, but I do discuss art with other artists and subscribe to a newsletter that addresses all aspects of art, Fine Art Views from clint@fineartviews.com. I have a blog, http://www.paintlayers.blogspot.com/ .

JD. How do you manage two careers and your family while keeping your sanity?

JG. I think that ship has sailed, as far as keeping my sanity is concerned! But I try not to be too obsessive and have fun with whatever I’m doing. Sometimes it gets very tough, when a pile of jobs is due pronto and the gallery wants something right away, too. Home life is far from idyllic at those times.

JD. What galleries exhibit your work?

JG. I am represented by the Dabbert Gallery here in Sarasota. I plan on getting one or two more galleries in different locations to handle the different kinds of work I do.

You can see if you visit my Art website, that I do several different kinds of work. It’s kind of like Winton Marsalis moving between jazz and classical genres and enjoying them both.

JD. How can we find you online?

JG. I have the blog, which I mentioned previously, http://www.paintlayers.blogspot.com/, and two websites, http://www.james.griffin.org/, which is primarily for illustration and http://www.jamesgriffin.mosaicglobe.com/, devoted to my gallery work.

JD. Thanks, James, for giving Seekerville a look at your process of producing covers for our books.

JG. Thank you, Janet and good luck with you latest book!

Fall from the Force

of Nature series


110 comments :

  1. I'm sorry I wasn't able to get the titles and authors under James' covers, but I'll list them here.

    The house covers are two covers of the same book, Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer.

    Scandal's Daughter and A Dangerous Duke are novels by Christine Wells.

    Fall is a painting by James, one in his Forces of Nature series.

    Janet

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  2. Oops, I forgot to mention A Grateful Harvest by Kristianna Gregory.

    Janet

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  3. This was a great post! How very interesting. James' artwork is amazing. I'm looking forward to reading your new book, Janet.

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  4. That is really interesting!
    martha(at)lclink(dot)com

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  5. Wow! What beautiful work! My father is an artist/author and did book covers for many years. He finally broke down and got a Mac and learned photoshop for some of his later works. It was a very interesting process. He, like you, is a "realist" painter and loves to expound on the beauty in the real...abstract, not so much.

    Thanks for sharing your journey!

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  6. Thanks for the interview it was really interesting and what beautiful covers. Its good to hear how the covers are created. Its also interesting seeing how much a computer can do with graphics.
    Please enter me in for the drawer
    ausjenny at gmail dot com

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  7. Janet,
    Thnks for the interview. Digital art is fascinating. James art is beautiful!

    mj.coward[at]gmail.com

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  8. Welcome to Seekerville, James. Have a cup of coffee and a scone please.

    Your artwork is just stunning. Thank you for sharing with us.

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  9. Hi Carla,

    Thanks! If you want in the drawing, leave your e-mail addy.

    Janet

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  10. Hi Martha, Thanks for stopping in Seekerville! You're in the drawing.

    Janet

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  11. James -- welcome to Seekerville! The evolution of cover art is so fascinating -- and your artistic talent is incredible!

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  12. What beautiful art work!

    Thank you for allowing us to see what goes into creating the book covers.

    Rose
    RRossZediker at yahoo.com

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  13. Hi Sherrinda. How cool that your father is an artist/author! What kind of books does he write?

    My father was an art teacher. My brother is a plein air painter. I've been surrounded by art all my life. I love to draw with colored pencils, but don't have the time now.

    If you want in the drawing for a copy of Courting the Doctor's Daughter, please leave your e-mail address.

    Thanks,
    Janet

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  14. Hi Jenny! It's great to see you here. I was concerned about you during all the fires in Australia. Hope you weren't involved.

    Janet

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  15. Hi MJ. Glad you enjoyed the post!

    Janet

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  16. These are beautiful covers! Very interesting how a cover comes together. I had no idea.

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  17. Good morning, Tina. Thanks for the scones! I've brought lemon curd to go with them.

    Janet

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  18. Hello Glynna. It was interesting to visit James' studio. But I didn't realize then that he goes to New York for photo shoots.

    Janet

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  19. Hello Rose. Thanks for coming!

    Janet

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  20. Hi Eileen, I had no idea how covers were created either. I'm not sure I totally understand it yet. :-) If you want to be in the drawing for a copy of Courting the Doctor's Daughter, please leave your e-mail address.

    Janet

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  21. I really enjoyed this post. It was great to learn a bit about the technology being utilized to produce the beautiful cover art that helps sell books! Please enter me in the drawing. pgrau (dot) ggi (at) gmail (dot) com

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  22. Great interview! How interesting to learn the process of how a book cover is made!
    writtenbyashli@verizon.net

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  23. James, you make beautiful covers! Thanks for taking the time to do an interview. I think it's awesome that you've found a way to succeed with what you enjoy doing.

    Enter me for Janets book, please!

    jessica_nelson7590 (at) yahoo (dot) com

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  24. This is so fascinating, Janet and James! Wow. I never realized so much went into book covers. It also made me thankful for great artists like James who put so much thought and effort into their work. The book cover is so incredibly important--especially to the author!

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  25. Thanks for sharing your insight into this fascinating profession, Janet and James. James' paintings are beautiful! I've always loved LI covers.

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  26. What a great idea for a post! Janet, the cover to your next book is beautiful and I look forward to reading it. James, thank you for sharing both your art and your story. Over 3,000 covers? That is just amazing, and each one is like a story in itself.

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  27. Thank you to all of you for you kind words! I'm glad to be able to lift back the curtain a bit on the publishing process. Please feel free to ask any questions you might have.
    James

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  28. Wow! An artist who captures the two places I call home, NY and FL. I love the book cover but I'm in love with the gallery paintings. Wonderful work!

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  29. This was so cool! What a fun interview.

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  30. Janet -- What a totally unique and fascinating blog today, and James, what an illustrious career you have had, and what amazing covers! Thank you for giving us an inside glimpse at a process I have often wondered about.

    And thank God for PhotoShop,eh??? My husband is an artist who would be lost without PhotoShop (as would I as I usually have him "doctor" my pictures whenever the crow's feet are a bit too defined to suit me!).

    And like Janet, I am an author who works with a cover artist, and am so impressed with the talent and ... uh, patience ... of artists like you who work with high-maintenance authors like me. My poor guy -- I hated the hero's hair on my 2nd book, so we scoured the Internet for better hair, and my artist was kind enough to plop a celebrity's hair (who shall remain nameless) on, as well as endow the heroine a little more to match her seductive character. Aren't you thanking God right about now that you work with Janet and not me?? :)

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  31. Hi Patricia! Thanks for stopping in at Seekerville. You're in the drawing.

    Janet

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  32. Thanks for taking the time to check out James' post today, Ashli. You're in the drawing for Courting the Doctor's Daughter.

    Janet

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  33. Hi Jessica. Great to see you this morning! I found James' journey from purist to realist a great example of finding a way to achieve our dreams.

    Janet

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  34. Hi Melanie. I totally agree. I suspect the cover makes a huge difference in sales, especially for hooking new readers.

    Janet

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  35. Good morning Lisa. I'm especially pleased with the LIH covers! Steeple Hill also creates covers in-house so kudos to the Art department!

    Janet

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  36. Hi Lorna. I was amazed by the number of covers James has done, too. And for such a number of publishers. I'm going to look at covers for his name or other artists from now on though I'm not sure all artists get their names on the cover.

    Janet

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  37. Hi janet,
    What an interesting interview! I was a fine arts major in college, so it was very interesting to learn more about how illustrations are done for book covers. Yours are lovely! I enjoyed your first book, and I am looking forward to reading this one. Please enter me in the drawing.
    Carrie
    carrie(at) turansky (dot) com

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  38. Hi James. Thanks for stopping in!

    I have a question I'd like to ask. Are the covers you created all paperbacks or have you done hardback covers, too? I'm curious about the Morning Glory covers on your post. Which came first? I love the cover that has a Norman Rockwell look. Love it!

    Also have you met any of the authors you created covers for, well, except me of course? :-)

    Janet

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  39. Hi Patricia W. Wish you could see close up the women James paints! Just gorgeous and so real you can almost feel the warmth from their skin.

    Janet

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  40. Hi Erica! If you want in the drawing, please leave your e-mail addy.

    Thanks,
    Janet

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  42. Good morning, Julie. Your covers are fabulous!!! So obviously your input is a good thing. You're fortunate to get to work with your artist. That's not how things are done at Harlequin. But I feel blessed with both of my covers.

    Now if I just had your hubby to work with my crow's feet...

    Janet

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  43. Good to see you here, Carrie! Thanks for your kind words for Courting Miss Adelaide and your interest in Courting the Doctor's Daughter.

    Janet

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  44. What a great interview! Fascinating to see that side of the book process. Thanks, Janet and James! I wonder if he did my latest cover which I love but cant' show anyone yet. LOL

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  45. Hi Cara, James signs his covers GRIFFIN. It's smallish so you may have to look carefully, especially since your cover's probably not the final jpeg.

    Janet

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  46. Wow, I enjoyed that so much. You did a great job interviewing him, JD! Interesting points on styles changing.

    I wondered how models and photos fit into the cover art scenario.

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  47. Hi,everone. Thanks for the great post. The covers are so beautiful. They add so much to the book. It is so amazing the amount of covers James' has done.

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  48. this was fascinating! i had no idea how this all came together, but i've enjoyed cover art for years. thanks for this post!

    charactertherapist (at) hotmail (dot) com

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  49. James, I am totally inspired by the last painting Janet posted, "Fall".

    It's got fairy art tendencies without the wings. You've planted a wonderful idea in my head for how I can strengthen a fairy artist heroine in a book by utilizing her talent as an illustrator as well. Thanks for the 'tweak'.

    Your work is reflective of the books within. Of course I know Janet's work, and Morning Glory is one of my favorite LaVyrle Spencer books. Her characters came alive for me, and the hope and conflict is reflected in your covers. Beautiful!

    Once you've used a photo shoot, how do you deepen the effect to look artist-produced? And what's the average length of time you have to produce a cover?

    Thanks so much for being with us today.

    I brought apple pie and fresh-churned vanilla ice cream to celebrate James' All American covers.

    Gorgeous!

    Ruthy

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  50. What a great interview. Fascinating information - on art, career, what information the illustrators are given... Just great. Thank you!

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  51. hi and welcome James; you do beautiful work- the colors are so awesome and they look as if they have been painted.

    I would love to be entered for this drawing and thanks. yourstrulee at sasktel dot net

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  52. What an interesting interview Janet. Thank you and thanks to James for giving us a peak at the cover side of publishing. Very enlightening and he's right. It is a big responsibility because most of the time its the covers that sell the book.

    It is always fun to hear how another artist struggled through the "development of his/her artistic career" In many ways we have similar trials.

    Thanks again and loved the eggs and ham.

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  53. I loved every word of this, Janet and James. The covers are beautiful.
    I have an artist friend and I emailed her, hoping she'll stop in.
    I wish she'd do book covers.

    I'll go look at your websites, James, thanks so much for the details and inside look.

    I find art so fascinating, I think it's because my artist skill pretty much begins and ends with a mobius strip...a lopsided mobius strip.

    For those interested, a mobius strip is a number eight lying on it's side. 8

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  54. A really informative interview. I am so much better informed on the process! Thanks to both of you.
    Jude Urbanski

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  55. James, I just returned from your blogsite.

    What a wonderful talent! I saw everything from shadow to light. I loved the varied aspects of your work and how you transport the reader through the cover into the pages of the book.

    And I could see traces of "Forces of Nature" in "Dawn", but I think the problem in Dawn is the face of the heroine...

    She doesn't draw my sympathy or empathy because she looks a bit too Scarlet O'Hara-ish snippy and full of herself.

    I don't sense loneliness in her, more self-absorbedness.

    But I love the style. Ginormously gorgeous.

    And now I'm done talking.

    Ruthy

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  56. Oh. My. Stars.

    These covers are utterly beautiful.

    I'm torn between wanting to sell a book just so James can design the cover...or just slapping some of his artwork onto the walls of my house.

    Well, maybe not slapping.

    Artfully hanging with perfectly measured placement of the hook and nail before sticking a wad of ABC gum underneath to keep it from going all crooked because of the herd of kids running through my house. Well, them and the dog.

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  57. The cover is beautiful. I too went to Pratt Institute, except I was in the short-lived teeny kids group 4-6yr olds on Sat. many years ago.Please enter me in your contest. My email is Marevawrites(@)gmaildot com
    A cover is important since it's the first thing people see..Kudos to James.

    warm hugs,
    Mareva

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  58. Wow! This is an active blog you have here, Janet. It's great to hear from you all. I'd like to answer a few of the questions asked. I do pretty much any size or format covers they ask for, trade, hard cover it doesn't matter to me. Sometimes a book will be initially published in trade format, (which is larger all around, with a higher retail price), then the cover is re-used for paperback size.
    I met Jennifer Blake and Debbie Macomber in person, and many others by email. You are the first to come to my studio, though!
    Ruthie asked how I deepen the photo to bring them to life. I almost never get through an illustration without lots of changes to the photographic reference. I grow their hair, change the shape of their jaw, nose, eyes, mouth, cheeks and of course, bust line. Gus don't escape this artistic surgery either. They aquire muscles the never had, a stronger jawline than Erol Flynn, great hair and often a machismo infusion. Being a painter, I like to draw and paint the characters to get a look that feels like what the book is about.Some covers come together quickly, others get bogged down, but generally they take about a week after I have done the shoot.
    By the way, the Morning Glory cover with the people on the porch was the first on, done in the late 1980s in oil paint for Ballantine books, I think.It was a "wrap" cover, meaning the image ran from the front to the back cover continuously. One small note about that painting. The photo I have of it has a carpenter's toolbox in the foreground, but in the actual painting it's just grass there. I remember being very upset when they made me paint over the tools and I used an experimental separation varnish over the tools, so that someday the grass could easily be removed. It's unlikely to happen, but it made me feel better!
    JG
    The painting is hanging at my parent's house.

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  59. Hi Ann,

    I suppose the models at the shoot are supplementing their income while they wait for their big break. Just think how many jobs are created from the production of books. And some of those books cost less that ten, even five dollars at WalMart prices. Amazing!

    Janet

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  60. Fascinating post! Thanks so much for inviting James to be our guest today, Janet. I'm learning how very important cover art is in gaining attention for a book, and these are all gorgeous examples!

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  61. Hi Linda, 3,000 covers blows me away too. Especially since James painted them in the early days. He told me he'd have to send some of the canvases wet. Talk about a scramble to meet a deadline!

    Janet

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  62. Hi there, Jeannie, I love to be surrounded by books, especially those with pretty covers.

    Love your e-mail address. Do you have any room on your couch for one of my characters? She needs some therapy.

    Janet

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  63. Ruthy, James' Forces of Nature paintings are breathtaking.

    Glad the post gave you an idea for tweaking your fairy artist.

    I'm eating the homemade ice cream slowly. Don't want one of those horrific brain freezes!

    Janet

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  64. Thanks Sheila. If you want in the drawing, please leave your e-mail address.

    Thanks!
    Janet

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  65. Hi Robyln. You're in the drawing. Thanks for taking the time to visit Seekerville.

    Janet

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  66. Hi Sandra, guess everybody who have their dreams hitched to the Arts share similar struggle.

    Glad you liked the eggs and ham. Jan, I am.

    Sorry.

    Janet

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  67. Ooo-whee....what beautiful art..thanks for a great post.

    dakotarose746@goldenwest.net

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  68. Mary, I'm grateful you explained what mobius strip meant. Where do you come up with this stuff? Please don't tell me it's something any first grader would know or I may have to join my character on Jeannie's couch.

    Janet

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  69. Good to see you here, Jude. I find the whole process fascinating. Maybe James could invite Seekerville to New York next time to see a photo shoot. :-)

    Janet

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  70. Thanks Baba. Leave your e-mail address if you'd like to be in the drawing.

    Janet

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  71. Actually if you make and 8 then make an 8 lying on it's side with the centers over top of each other, it's kind of a daisy.
    Try it, you're now an artist.

    HAS ANYONE NOT GONE TO JAMES' ILLUSTRATION SITE. It is absolutely filled with the MOST stunning cover art.

    be still my heart, it is wonderful.
    James the way you catch a mood, the variety, so, so, so unfailingly beautiful. There's everything, every ear, fantasy, sweet, hot, there's even one that's just a close up of a guy with a gun, really cool.

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  72. EXCUSE ME-Typo alert.

    I meant 'every ERA' not 'every EAR'.

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  73. Ah, Gina, I'd love for you to have one of James' paintings on your walls, but then you'd have to sell one of your kids to pay for it. So maybe just buy my book and rip off the cover and hang that. :-)

    Did you know that there's little dot like sticky things you can put on the bottom back of pictures to keep them in line?

    Janet

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  74. Hi Mareva, are you saying what you learned at Pratt didn't stick? I'm sorry but I think you owe your parents a refund. :-0

    Hugs back at ya,
    Janet

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  75. Hi James,

    Are you saying the Morning Glory painting was returned to you after the cover was produced? Or did you do another one for your parents?

    When you meet with authors is it to discuss their covers? Or just to schmooze? Any interesting stories? :-)

    Janet

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  76. Thanks, Myra. It's exciting to talk covers. Soon you're have your own on the bookstore shelves!!

    Janet

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  77. Thanks for stopping Dee. Glad you enjoyed seeing a few of James' beautiful covers.

    Janet

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  78. For a minute there I thought you had a thing for ears, Mare. :-)

    To me those intersecting 8s look like a whirligig, not a daisy. But if you use four, you'll find out if he loves you.

    Janet

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  79. Hello James:

    I’ve worked with commercial artists for over thirty years in advertising and many have told me that they think in a few hundred years museums will be displaying commercial art as the best work form the 20th Century. What do you think about this?

    Also, when photography was first developed painting moved away from realism to impressionism and expressionism to produce what the camera could not do. With computer art, is there anything left a painter can do that the computer cannot do? Where does natural painting go from here? Is there anywhere?


    Thanks,

    Vince

    P. S. Janet, I’ve already read “Courting the Doctor’s Daughter” . I’ll review it soon on eHarlequin. Five Star -- Highest Rating. I’d love to read more books from the same time and place.

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  80. Hi Vince. Great questions. I'm hoping there's always room for both computer art and art created by human hands alone.

    I'm thrilled you enjoyed Courting the Doctor's Daughter! Thanks in advance for posting a review at eHarlequin. I think this is the last book in the Courting series. But you never know.

    Janet

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  81. Thank you for joining us, James.

    I loved the story of your creative side melding with the technology of today. I so applaud you for utilizing the tools at hand and working magic with the various programs you play with.

    Your artwork is beautiful. The authors whose covers you've graced, are fortunate.

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  82. What an interesting post!! I had no idea how they do some covers.

    Thanks so much for being with us today, James! I really enjoyed hearing about how you work. And I love the artwork you shared with us. I'll be sure to check your blogs/website.

    Missy

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  83. Hi Janet, in answer to your question, my dad writes Christian Fantasy (medieval/some romance)My favorites of his are The Crown of Eden and The Devil's Mouth (Thomas Williams) He hasn't written that many, but mostly edits and ghost writes for other authors.

    How cool that you draw as well as write! It must run in the genes!
    I would enter the drawing, but I just won a book on Seekerville! I hate to be greedy, you know. I'll just go buy a copy of yours! I've heard great things about it! :)

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  84. James, I love your story about the tools being banished on the Morning Glory cover.

    That's so funny, because Will put his hand to everything around the house to help her out, from refurbishing the sheds and rooms to fixing steps, doors, etc.

    And doing dishes, way before they ever thought of it in Bridges of Madison County, LOL!

    I would have left the tools in because of that. He became her right-hand man.

    Thanks for that tidbit.

    Ruthy

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  85. Great post, Janet and James -- thanks for starting our week with something so interesting. There are so many people like James who have a big behind-the-scenes part in books that the readers never think about.

    Your work is beautiful and I'd love the chance to win a copy of the book. :-) leigh [at] leighdelozier [dot] com

    Have a great week, everyone!

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  86. wow. I loved this post.
    As a graphic artist and photoshop user myself, I am always inspired and impressed by "real" artists (i'm more of an animator/cartoonist - whole different ballgame).
    James, your work is incredible! I'm so glad you've been able to carve out a living doing what you love. So few artists get to do that. Thank you so much for sharing with Seekerville.

    DebH
    nm8r67 at hotmail dot com
    (for the drawing)

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  87. Hi again. Glad to see more posts and questions, too! Yes, the publisher buys only reproduction rights per edition and returns almost all my paintings, ( except for one or two that"disappeared" over the years). I was storing them carefully in special bins in my basement, but then I rented a big truck and drove them to my brother's new house in Maine, which has a huge, dry basement.
    Which brings me to Vince's comment about museums hanging commercial art and illustration in the future. Actually it's beginning to happen, but they haven't yet graduated to book covers.
    As for what is left for the artist to do that the computer can't, there is a lot. But first let me say that when an artist does art on the computer it requires every bit of artistic sense that painting does. It's just a different technique. What I like about actual painting is the imperfections of the hand and brush. It;'s hard to get things perfect and that is part of what give actual paintings their spirit. It's through our imperfections as well as our strong points that the artist's soul comes through.

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  88. Absolutely wonderful interview! Thank you both so much for all the insights into how the field of illustration has changed, and how you've incorporated modern software into it! I'm going to be bookmarking this one, I think! I've had some fun "rescuing" blurred photos by turning them into "paintings" with Photoshop, but you've given me a ton of ideas for creating new works of art. I love your illustrations, and hope to see LOTS more of them as time goes by!

    Oh, and please toss my name in the hat to win a copy of the book! Thank you!

    hope_chastain at yahoo dot com.

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  89. Hi Audra, well said! I'm impressed with the amount of talent God passed out. But being able to use that gift and find a way to pay the bills takes heart.

    Janet

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  90. Hi Missy, glad you're planning to check out James' sites. You're in for a treat!

    Janet

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  91. Sherrinda, ghost writing interests me. That's a whole other topic to explore one day. Congrats to your father on his books. Are they on Amazon?

    I love to use colored pencils because I like something I can control. LOL Watercolor is so fluid. The odor of oil paint bothers me. Pastels are lovely. I'd like to try them one day. I have a pastel still life my father did when he young and the colors are still gorgeous.

    Janet

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  92. Ruthy, I'm with you. But that just proves that even cover artists have revisions. :-)

    Janet

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  93. Hi Leigh, I hope to get a chance to tour Harlequin and see the production side of books. Maybe when Romance Writers of America's held in New York.

    Janet

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  94. Hi Deb H. As a longtime friend of Mickey, I admire cartoonists and animators. They're real artists to me. Of course I think Mickey's real too, so take what I say with a grain of salt. :-)

    Janet

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  95. Hi James, I hate to think of your paintings stored in a basement. Seems like authors would like to own the original of their cover/s.

    Is there a market for a coffee table book with your covers and an explanation of the process?

    It;'s hard to get things perfect and that is part of what give actual paintings their spirit. It's through our imperfections as well as our strong points that the artist's soul comes through.

    I love that you said this.

    Thanks for making today special!

    Janet

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  96. Glad to see you here, Hope. I'm delighted the post got your creative juices flowing. You're in the drawing.

    Janet

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  97. Janet and James,
    Thanks for a very interesting blog today. Your cover is beautiful, Janet. How exciting that you and James could meet.

    James, thanks for sharing your work with us in Seekerville.

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  98. Debby, it was exciting to meet James. I'm thrilled to have a large print of the cover. Once I turn my book in, I'll get it framed.

    Janet

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  99. Thanks Janet, no I was safe in South Australia but they were tragic. I have been busy with sorting stuff before moving around May 23rd. I was evicted although I knew it was happening. The landlord wants to sell and was looking for any reason to get me out and finally just gave me the 90 days so he can sell.
    So i have been around but not on blogs as much. Mum wont be coming out of the nursing home so this will be a new start for me but mum is a hoarder! I am a bit of a packrat but there is a difference!
    I dont think I will ever hoard stuff after this as some of the stuff is well interesting to say the least.

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  100. Hey Janet, thank you for introducing James to us.

    James - I love your covers and truly respect the energy you put into keeping your craft current. Best wishes.

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  101. Jenny, glad all is well. Wishing you a wonderful new beginning with lots less "baggage." :-)

    Janet

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  102. Great to see you, Anita Mae. Thanks for stopping in Seekerville!

    Janet

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  103. The works are just marvelous.

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  104. The works are just marvelous.

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  105. Simply beautiful! All of them! I never would've guessed at all that goes into a cover like that. wow. And Janet, you're book looks wonderful! I'm looking forward to reading it!
    patterly [at] gmail [dot] com

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  106. What lovely covers by a talented man!
    I can't even draw a stick person.
    Thanks for the education on how a cover artist works!
    Cindi
    jchoppes[at]hotmail[dot]com

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  107. Thanks Abi! I think so too!

    Janet

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  108. Good to see you, Patty! I so appreciate your interest in my book. Thanks!

    Janet

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  109. Thanks for stopping, Cindi. Glad you enjoyed the post!

    Janet

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