These are the final covers complete with “Sci-Fi” text for the previous raw art I posted earlier. The top one won out over the idea below that featured my 9yo step son made into an alien.


Love it when the author has excellent definitive ideas to run with,like this Photoshop composite artwork created for this story collection.

Love it when the author has excellent definitive ideas to run with,
like this Photoshop composite artwork created for this story collection.


I don’t often get Photoshop work like this so when I do, I relish the opportunity to crank up the Joy Division and spend hours manipulating the shit out of photos. The artwork on the cover with the face looking up, is actually a picture of my nine-year-old stepson I took after dinner next to a wall in the dining room with my little Canon Powershot and crappy flash. It had to be the worst possible conditions to take a photograph and the original wasn’t much to work with. It took was about 50 layers of adjustments and some fantastic photographs from the NASA jet propulsion website, (which have this amazing collection of photographs that are absolutely free) to get him to look like some alien space child. The bottom one is basic stock. Because this project is in progress and the title hasn’t been released yet, I’m only showing the artwork at this point.


I haven’t done a cookbook in quite some time, so it was nice to get an assignment from Storey Publishing. I’m often over at Williams and Sonoma exchanging gas canisters for my Sodaworks seltzer unit, and while I’m there I always check out the cookbooks, which are always fun to look at, as well as the WS packaging which is really fucking awesome also. Food packaging and publishing in some ways, in some places, just keeps getting better and better, and working with food in the context of design was always more satisfying if you’re actually interested in food to begin with. And these days I really like to cook.


I’m wrapping up this project with Mark, an author in the UK. It’s an adventure/thriller novel set in the Himalayas, with a strong female protagonist, and all sorts of international intrigue. Some of the book involves trekking in the mountains, and I got my mind wrapped around some idea of somebody jumping over a crevasse as a cover idea, probably because I’ve seen that movie Cliffhanger with Sylvester Stallone so many times, ridiculous images from that movie keep popping into my subconscious. Since this is part of the series, I realized it was probably better to just simply brand it the design as a strong type-heavy book with the simple image on the front, though in the end the author picked a separate design I created that I’ll post here later on.


If there’s anything I love it’s working on it’s historical books, and the Civil War in particular, I’m just fascinated with it, and it’s one of the reasons I live on the East Coast. When I got this assignment from Bristol Park Books, I headed over Library of Congress’s image resource archive, which has about a zillion wonderful free and primarily copyright-free images of the Civil War conflict in United States. This shit is fascinating, and they’ve done a stellar job at scanning these images it high-def resolutions so that you can use one image to spread across an entire hardcover dust jacket mechanical layout.


So like I was saying, get a whole bunch of versions of this, and these three were basically the top picks the client liked. I think he went with the one on the bottom left-hand corner, but I like the top one with the red and black. I created the type with this sorta-new digital letterpress app called LetterMpress. It does a fair job replicating wood type and all its beautiful little fluctuating inconsistencies, but the interface is terrible and once I exported the artwork I had to spend a bunch of time in Photoshop making adjustments to get useable, practical artwork. The image is actually from some 1940’s hog-calling contest that I found on the LOC website.


I got a little carried away with with the number of comps I did for this one, I just kept coming up with new ideas, and dutifully tried to actualize them, it was problematic for me. I do this sort of thing all the time, it’s not a smart way to make money, at least on figuring what your hourly wage is after factoring project hours into the budget. Anyway, the story takes place rural in Tennessee right after Pearl Harbor, where the townsfolk get all up in arms about the threat of the Japanese dropping a bomb on their new Piggly Wiggly.


For this client in UK who teaches music, I was asked to create a cover that didn’t look a the traditional music theory tome. Fair enough. I’ve been learning bass myself for the last year, so I’ve been pouring over music symbols lately from an academic viewpoint, and this gave me a chance to really look at each figure as a beautiful symbol of form and balance, which reminded me of lettering classes in college where we made painted abstract triptychs with Plaka on cold press board. Though almost strictly an exercise in form, I think out of all of these I like the weird little Buddha figure the most. The client ended up choosing the abstract collage with white background.


For some reason this vanished off my blog. Anyway, it takes place at the college of the same name, and has some sort of Stepford Wives-ish plot. The author had given me some photos of the college for my use, I liked this brass plaque one best.

For some reason this vanished off my blog. Anyway, it takes place
at the college of the same name, and has some sort of Stepford
Wives-ish plot. The author had given me some photos of the college
for my use, I liked this brass plaque one best.


This trio I did for Mr. Hallford evolved from early discussions on tone and consistency between these titles of what I like to call “strange fiction,” along the lines of one of my favorite authors Robert Aickman. Though not entirely intentional, our concepts for the artwork at one time involved images other than sinister animals you see here, and I quite like this unique thematic tone. I have to say a special thanks to the fellow in England who so kindly let us use his fish image for the Red Devil of the title.


Susie Bright posted early versions of this the Praying Mantis cover on her website (there were some other comps I was never really that happy with) and asked her fans to rate the two. Good thing I’ve gotten over my fears of public scrutiny over my work, because she had over hundred comments going back and forth between the two, and I found myself wincing at obvious criticisms for early versions that hadn’t been fine-tuned yet. Nevertheless, I felt a certain sense of elation to have so much immediate attention, and Susie found herself unable to pick between the two and has decided to use both (a first ever in my experience). Those who know anything about Andrea Dworkin will get the Mantis reference (one of those infrequent fully-formed ideas I get once in a blue moon), a concept I thought was pitch-perfect considering her frequent disdain for the male species. The Domme image was more commercial, approachable and expected, and said basically the same thing.


I have a rather nice collection of old girlie magazines from the glorious days of 60s and 70s smut that have the most wonderful classified ads for realted material in their back pages. It’s hours of viewing pleasure and makes research for projects like this take twice as long. This salacious image was a mere gritty thumbnail size that only grew more obscene as I scanned and enlarged it. God how I love old halftones, the digital age with all its perfect bits and bytes killed ‘em. The others are early comps. Fun project.


As I mentioned somewhere earlier on this blog, I have this other business designing and printing posters. I did another poster for Tree Pittsburgh earlier this year and this project is for their Fall fundraiser. The client chose the first comp with the black bottle and I did a 200 run that I’ll take a photo of in situ and post later on.


It didn’t make sense to start from scratch with this sequel to the John Robbins revamp I did a couple of years ago. I personally like it when non-fiction titles by the same author on a similar theme carry on with some similar meme. It’s not like designers always have to reinvent the wheel with each new project, which in this case wouldn’t serve the reader any more effectively, and the client, Red Wheel Weiser, wouldn’t have wanted that anyway.

It didn’t make sense to start from scratch with this sequel to the
John Robbins revamp I did a couple of years ago. I personally like
it when non-fiction titles by the same author on a similar theme
carry on with some similar meme. It’s not like designers always
have to reinvent the wheel with each new project, which in this
case wouldn’t serve the reader any more effectively, and the
client, Red Wheel Weiser, wouldn’t have wanted that anyway.



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