Well, here it is. The polished color cover reveal of my forthcoming YA thriller, Fireseed One! Isn't it spectacular? The virtual launch party is scheduled here for December 20th and everyone's invited so mark your Google calendars or whatever you use. They'll be giveaways and blog links galore. Getting back to cover art, I do love all of the sizzling photo montages that are so popular right now, but as an artist, I'd love to see a re-trending of the painted book cover, you know with the great, visionary art? I wanted a look like that for the Fireseed novels. That's why I chose my cover artist, Jay Montgomery, a true digital painter. And, I'd like to shine a spotlight on his talent by interviewing him, and providing links to his sites. Welcome, Jay!
Me: What's your process?
Jay: Every job is different and depends on the subject matter and deadline. In general for a book cover, I first get all the input from the client, including excerpts from the manuscript, doodles, images they like, phone call and email discussions. Then I take all that input and use paper and pencil to draw up some small thumbnail sketches. I send those to the client and get feedback and then with those changes work up a tight sketch while gathering photo reference and other inspirations. The tight sketch is usually done in Photoshop and sometimes it's value based and sometimes it's linear based. For this cover it was helpful for me to do a multilayered grayscale Photoshop file, to give me the flexibility for placing and revising various elements. Once I get approval with any revisions I add color to the grayscale layers and continue to add various details. I work from big brushes to small brushes, background to foreground. For photoshop brushes I never use a smooth airbrush perfect looking tips. I always use natural textured brushes. For this cover, from the tight sketch to the final sent file I worked 14 hour days with several breaks/errands and other jobs taking about 14 days complete. I sent a working color version to Catherine once I was happy with where it was going. Then with a few tweaks from her comments and finishing all the details it was sent to the Graphic Designer in the format requested.
Me: Some of your specialties?
Jay: My overall specialty is my flexibility in style and market. As you can see on my website, I have done work in almost every area of illustration, including publishing, editorial, advertising, institutional, multimedia, graphic design, etc. I have illustrated 3 children's books, over 30 different magazine covers and countless interior illustrations for magazine, books, technical illustrations, logos, t-shirts, on and on. I guess I specialize in conceptual realism for any market or subject matter. I love it all and can't decide a narrow focus. Maybe that's my strength and weakness.
Me: Do you have a dream project?
Jay: My dream project would be a $50,000+ commission to create all original and personal fine art work about my observations of the world in terms of making it a better place for a solo show in New York City at a prominent gallery with a deadline of one year. In addition to the commission fee, all the work would be for sale and I would get 75%+ of all sales. The gallery and people that would help me would get the remaining. It's a near impossible dream, but I believe in dreaming big!
A shorter and simpler dream job would be to illustrate a TIME magazine cover and for it to be published.
Me: What was the best thing about working on my cover?!
Jay: The best thing about working on this cover was making up water farm details, burn suits, and rock formations. It was really nice working with a fellow artist and teacher that could visualize and draw. Catherine also had a grasp on how I thought and the jargon of my industry which made things go smoothly and not have to educate the client to make the best possible cover. I loved creating visual representation of the world of FireSeed.
Me: What do you teach at the Savannah School of Art & Design?
Jay: I teach how to embrace your inner vision and visual talent though quick thinking, art techniques, and presentation. I teach a variety of illustration classes for Sophomores to Seniors. Traditional techniques with graphite, watercolor, pastel, acrylics, oils, ink, colored pencil, charcoal, etc. Digital techniques in Photoshop and Illustrator CS5. Advertising Illustration, Editorial Illustration, Book Illustration and Self Promotion. In all my classes I discuss the business side of Illustration, including copyright, contracts, negotiating, pricing, portfolio presentation, website development and anything else that will make them a successful artist today.
Here are some links to his art so you can see more! PORTFOLIO, his BLOG, on Facebook, on FLICKR, on TWITTER, on Youtube, on Jacketflap, on DeviantART.
BTW, the water farms Jay talked about painting, that's on the back cover. Stay tuned for another reveal.