I am very pleased to welcome artist Craig White here to DarkFaerieTales.com to talk about his book cover artwork.
You can also visit Craig around the web here: Website
DFT: How did you get started in the illustration field?
I’ve always been into art. My twin brother, Brian and I were always doing creative things when we were kids. We chose art as careers in high school, and went to art school together and are both freelance illustrators. I was an Art Director at an ad agency many years ago, but did any graphic design and illustration that I could in-house. A friend of Brian’s was looking for illustrators to create digital illustrations (which were quite new at the time) of Marvel characters for Fleer trading cards– back in 1995 I think. Brian put me in touch with the friend and both Brian and I did some cards. They liked them so we did some more… then I quit my ad agency job to go full time freelance. I think I did about 150 cards for Fleer over a few years. I met my good friend and agent, Peter Lott through that contact. My first client with Peter was Scholastic. I did a series of book covers called Give Yourself Goosebumps.
DFT: How did you find your style? Has it changed since you started?
My first style was based on what I knew as an airbrush artist, only done on computer. Yes, my style has changed– almost constantly. I actually have several different looks that I use regularly.
My current “photographic” style was born several years ago when I did some re-covers for a Laurell K. Hamilton series. It was pretty fresh looking at the time and it just kind of evolved into what it is today. I’m actually changing that style at the moment… always trying to stay a step ahead of myself— not an easy thing to do.
DFT: How long do you generally spend on a project?
I do almost 100% book cover work these days. It really depends on the project, but if the planets are in alignment, a cover usually takes about a week. Sometimes a lot less, sometimes much, much, longer.
DFT: What are some important things to keep in mind when pursuing a career as an Illustrator?
Treat your craft as a business. When you create art for someone else, they are the ones who are in charge. Do your best to do your best work, but remember that keeping your clients happy will bring you more work.
DFT: Do you have any advice for an artist that is interested in doing book cover work?
Get hooked up with an agent. This business is more competitive than ever. You’ll have a better chance at getting steady work if you have a good agent on your side. That said, if you’re a great salesperson and have good contacts, go for it.
DFT: Are your originals for sale, owned by you or licensed?
I do all of my work on a Mac, so there aren’t any originals, per se. I do sell prints of all of my work– please check out my web site for info, or email me. Yes, I own all the copyrights of all of my work.
DFT: Do you accept private commissions?
Yes. I have accepted a few. If I have the time, I am always eager to accept private commissions.
DFT: Is any of your illustration work digital, or is it all analogue?
All digital. I do paint with oils for personal work every once in a while…when I want to get my hands dirty.
DFT: How did you get into doing work as a cover artist?
My agent works almost exclusively with publishers.
DFT: What is your process when working with clients? Can you run us through a typical job? What is your creative process?
I get an email from my agent or the client. They usually have an idea of what they want. For example: “Hero is a male “vampire” with dark hair, pale skin, muscular build, shirtless, holding a sword. A cemetery with fog and spooky trees in the background. The color scheme could be reds.” Sometimes I’ll get a manuscript and will read it and pull out things that I think would make a cool cover. Sometimes I’ll send sketches of what I’m thinking about, sometimes not.
I’ll send the client model choices and either shoot it here in Los Angeles or have a photographer shoot it in New York. I’ll email the client a few selects from the shoot and work on the one they choose. I have a library of stock images I use for backgrounds or I’ll go out and shoot backgrounds as needed. I’ll put everything together in Photoshop and email the client a couple of “comps” for approval. They usually make changes and we go back and forth until everyone is happy. Then I ftp them the high resolution file… then it’s on to the next one.
DFT: Is there a cover that you wish you had done or that you just really love?
I see stuff daily that I really love. I really like that new Hush Hush cover… very cool. I’m also a fan of Chris McGrath (Jim Butcher books) and Cliff Nielsen’s work.
DFT: Which author would you love to do a book cover for?
Hmm. That’s tough. I’ve done covers for a lot of great authors. Can I get back to you on that one?
DFT: What is the best part about what you do?
I am my own boss. I absolutely LOVE my job. I get to work in the most amazing field with wonderful people every day.
DFT: Do you ever have creative slumps? What do you do then?
Absolutely. I get stuck all the time. I try and find inspiration from everything creative around me. Movies, books, other artists, music.
DFT: What was one of your favorite projects?
I have many that I’m proud of. I really like how “And Falling Fly” came out as well as the Marjorie M. Liu “Iron Hunt” series.
DFT: Describe your work setting.
My meager office/studio consists of my desk which supports my MacPro and monitor. My wacom tablet, a couple of printers, a telephone and a day bed that my pug sleeps on (all day!).
DFT: Do you have any current projects that you would like to tell us about?
I just did the 3rd book in the Iron Hunt series– actually we’re still going back and forth with it… hopefully it will be done soon. Also working on the follow up to “And Falling Fly”.
DFT: What is your favorite fairy tale? Why?
I’m not sure if it’s a fairy tale, but I like the King Arthur story. I always liked it– from when I was young. I guess I just like knights.
DFT: What do you like to read for pleasure?
I used to read Stephen King– before his current “crazy” years. I read “The Road” by Cormac Macarthy, a while back and just tried to get through Blood Meridian, but that was just not my cup of tea. I have started to re-read Robert E. Howards Conan books again. My sister is absolutely hooked on J.R. Ward and was surprised to find out that I did a few of those covers. I guess she’ll loan me her copies when she’s done.
DFT: Craig – thanks for sharing and taking the time to stop by.