Today we have artist Paul Richmond at the cyber bar. I know! I’m getting all kinds of highfalutin up in here, with artists on the blog! Paul designed the awesome cover for my book EASY RYDER and I was just sooo in love with it, and amazed by his talent I wanted to invite him to the cyber bar so he could share with us how he makes those wonderful book covers for Dreamspinner Press.
After graduating from Columbus College of Art and Design in 2002, Paul Richmond illustrated children’s books, concert merchandise, a nationally syndicated comic strip, a greeting card line, and a variety of large-scale murals. Only after coming out of the closet shortly thereafter did his fine artwork become a vehicle for exploring and understanding his own journey and developing a dialogue with other members of the LGBT community. His work has been featured in numerous group and solo exhibitions, art anthologies, and on the covers of over 200 novels. Paul is represented by Lyman-Eyer Gallery in Provincetown and he is the Associate Art Director for Dreampinner Press. He lives with his husband Dennis and their two whippets in Columbus, Ohio.
What we are drinking:
The Pink Fairy
50 ml Absinthe
15 ml Gin
75 ml Rose Water
15 ml Sugar Syrup
Put absinthe in a chilled cocktail glass, sling other ingredients twice and add to absinthe.
Garnish with a rose petal. It’ll get you drunk.
Deanna: First things first, Paul. (((pours a round of Pink Fairies and passes one over))) Where are you, and what are you wearing?
Paul: I’m in my studio in Columbus, Ohio and currently I’m wearing a pair of bright pink boxers and a tank top. One of the many perks of working from home! :)
Deanna: Before we get into cock tales, tell me about these cocktails you brought with you?
Paul: Well, to be honest I just picked it because I like the name. LOL! The drink itself sounds like it might be a little gross, but since we’re just cyber-drinking, bottoms up!
Deanna: LOL, I love it! ((takes a sip)) Mmmm, it’s virtually delicious! LOL Now that we’re comfy, we can get started. So how you became a cover artist for Dreamspinner?
Paul: My friend Jane Seville was in the process of publishing her novel “Zero at the Bone” with Dreamspinner Press and she asked me if I would do the cover art for her. I had studied Illustration in college, and doing a painting for a gay novel sounded like a lot of fun. Sure enough, I had a blast, and the lovely folks at Dreamspinner invited me to do more. I worked as a freelancer for them for a couple of years and then became their full-time Associate Art Director last year. I couldn’t be happier – it’s a dream job!
Deanna: Can you walk us through the steps of making a book cover?
Paul: Every artist approaches it differently, and I have different techniques depending on the look I’m going for. My earlier illustrations were all done in oil paint on panel. Nowadays, I use a combination of traditional and digital techniques – whatever will give me the right effect. For my drawn covers, I start with a black and white pencil sketch that I send to the author for feedback.
Deanna: I remember how excited I was when I received the black and white sketch of EASY RYDER. I was so giddy I was showing everyone!!!
Paul: Then I render the image in detail, usually starting in black and white and then adding color as the final step.
Deanna: Do you read the books before you do the art?
Paul: I wish I could, but I would have to be a speed-reader since I usually make several covers a week. We have the authors provide pertinent details to our cover artists – a synopsis of the story, descriptions of the characters, etc.
Deanna: What is your favorite book cover you have ever done? You should prolly say EASY RYDER since this is my bar, LOL
Paul: Of course it’s EASY RYDER ;) Actually I don’t think I could choose a favorite because they’re all special and memorable to me for different reasons. The ones I enjoy the most are when an author is willing to try something really unique and unexpected.
Deanna: How about another Pink Fairy, Paul?
Paul: ((holds out his glass)) I’d love one!
Deanna: ((tops them both off and takes a sip)) You were right, these are delicious in cyber world. I can’t even taste the alcohol! Now, do you create all of your covers with a computer?
Paul: ((sips his Pink Fairy)) A computer is always a part of the process because I add all of the type in Photoshop. My photo-based covers are also entirely digital, and even many of my illustrations are done that way now too.
Deanna: How does that help or impede your creative process?
Paul: I think it’s a huge help. With the click of a button, I can access more tools than I could ever possibly fit in my art studio – every kind of paintbrush, color, and surface I could hope for. And there’s no mess to clean up afterwards! Which is a big plus, because I’m a messy painter.
Deanna: Well I’m a messy writer, to let’s toast to that ((they clink glasses)). I have so many papers lying around it’s borderline ridiculous! What was the hardest part about making a book cover?
Paul: I think the hardest part for me is figuring out how to distill several hundred pages worth of story into one powerful image that will grab readers’ attention. It’s difficult for authors too, because they have poured so much of themselves into their work and they often want to see as much of that world depicted on a cover as possible. But the best covers are the simplest. I don’t think my job is to spell it all out for readers, just intrigue them enough to pick it up and discover all that the book contains for themselves.
Deanna: And I think you do a beautiful job with that Paul. EASY RYDER is so simple yet complex because it really gives the feel of the 70s and hitchhiking. And Snake’s face? Forget about it!!! You NAILED his mad-at-the-world-sadness. LOVE IT! Did I mention that?
Paul's: ((chuckles)) You may have said so once or twice.
Deanna: (refills their drinks)) What is your favorite part of making a cover?
Paul: The hardest part is also my favorite – that initial conceptualizing phase is always a fun challenge. I strive to make each cover something special, and I love dreaming up new approaches.
Deanna: What helps you when you are stumped on a project? I usually have a cocktail … or three…LOL But that’s just me.
Paul: LOL! My art teacher always said if you haven’t cussed and pulled out your hair during the process of creating a piece of art, you probably aren’t finished yet. I think there’s some truth in that. But pushing through it is how you grow and learn. I don’t know if there’s a parallel for authors, but I find that when I have spent hours working on a piece of art, I start to see it differently than someone looking at it for the first time. It’s like I get too close to it. So I have to do little tricks to make myself approach it with fresh eyes. One thing I’ll do when I’m working on a painting is look at its reflection in a mirror. Seeing the image reversed helps me distance myself from it a bit. Similarly, when I’m working on the computer, I can reverse the image with a click and almost always immediately see what isn’t working.
Deanna: The mirror trick sounds interesting, and I can see how that would make you see it with fresh eyes. With writing, I often change the font to find typos, etc, because the eye fills in what the brain knows should be there and we get tricked.
Paul: ((raises an empty glass to toast)) Exactly!
Deanna: Oh no you’re empty! ((fills them both up))) Well, while Paul and I polish off these drinks—for which we make no promises as to the tastiness of them IRL—I want to thank all of you for stopping by. And a special thanks to my fellow Ohioan Paul Richmond for not only giving me a BEAUTIFUL book cover for my new book coming out this Friday with Dreamspinner Press, but for sharing with us how he continues to make these AMAZING book covers!
Check out Paul’s here:
Dreamspinner Press: http://dreamspinnerpress.com