A: I started out in school to be an artist and ended up changing majors. Most of what I know about cover art I learned from studying other artists and what they’re doing right or wrong.
A: As a rule, if you make money with your art in your life time, it isn’t fine art. There are exceptions (like Michael Whelan, a perpetual favorite of Lamkin’s, who is both a phenomenal artist and a commercial success).
A: Not usually. Book covers tend to have specific story cues that make their pictures look weird outside the context of the book.
A: Never. More specifically, I try to steer away from any immediately recognizable fonts in my work. If readers can look at the cover and go, ‘that’s Old Bookman style font’ or ‘Times New Roman? Seriously?’ We can go ahead and call their disbelief indefinitely unsuspended, and that will likely factor into their appraisal of the rest of the book.
A: That depends on the author. Covers for authors with no idea what they want tend to end up being solo projects for me. For authors with a nebulous concept and a “whatever you’re trying to do is wrong” mentality, I’ve sometimes had a sympathetic publisher to whom I could appeal for a clearer idea of what to do (me interjecting *helps to be married to one. I’m sure that’s just a coincidence 😉 *). Authors worth having a conversation with are the ones who have their own ideas and a willingness to talk things out back and forth to figure out what works well for everybody’s vision.
A: Erotica. I’ve got nothing against the genre. I just don’t feel confident that I could produce an erotica cover that did not look either like an obscenity or a parody.
A: In no particular order…
-variety without getting too busy (although I have seen some covers that were both busy and well done)
-hints of what happens in the book without getting spoiler-y
A: Again, in no particular order…
-orange. Not sure what the science is, but it’s hard to get the thumbnail photo to look good if the graphic has a lot of orange in it.
-poor image integration (think picture people who look like a paper doll stuck on a random background, objects that throw shadows the wrong way, or clipart-style tattoos that don’t follow the curves of the body part they occupy).