Red Soil Through Our Fingers will be my first published novel-length work. But I’m not the only one with a “first” coming up in January… it will also be the first time graphic artist Stephanie Hoover will have her art on the cover of a published novel!
Stephanie and I grew up together on the same street in suburban Idaho. We lost touch over the years, but reconnected last year through social media over the intersection of our creative passions. Cover art is a special genre; it brings together the crafts of writing and graphic/visual art into a unified symbol of a story. Stephanie was kind enough to answer a few interview questions about her approach to the cover for Red Soil Through Our Fingers, as well as her work in general.
1. The cover art looks awesome! Tell us about your process for creating it. What tools and methods did you use?
Once I had the idea for what the cover should roughly look like, I played around with the concept and decided to create a crisp silhouette city and groundscape with a watercolor styled backdrop. I wanted the soil in the background to almost look like watered down blood to tie into the motifs of hardship and sacrifice, as well as the more literal ‘red soil’ of mars. The cityscape and text were drawn using the program Sketch. The Gimp and a little old Wacom Graphite tablet were used for the background colors and coloring the cityscape.
2. What imagery and themes from the novel were your primary inspirations for the cover art?
The sharp distinction between city life and farm life was the primary inspiration. This imagery led to the cover design showing a rift between the two. The more literal rift is the canyon Dao Vallis on Mars, just outside Dao. Although Malika’s farm in Hadriaca is not actually across the valley from Dao, I liked picturing it as a literal rift.
3. In your opinion, how does the cover art fit into the overall entity of the novel? What is its role for the reader and for the experience of the novel?
I’d say the first and primary goal of the cover art is to be a visual overview of the book. It’s the first thing someone browsing through a list of e-books will see, so it needs to represent the novel and entice people to learn more. Once someone has read the book, it serves as a graphic representation of the work they read, reminding them of the journey the book took them through.
4. This is your first professional sale of cover art for a novel. How did you approach creating cover art for the first time? What did you learn about your art as you went through the process?
First, I read tips about specifically designing covers for ebooks. The most important, and most difficult, requirement is that the covers be readable and recognizable at very small sizes. My first draft of the cover failed on this even so. The cityscape and rift were too small and became invisible when the cover was a thumbnail. I redesigned it so the buildings and rift were larger, compact, and prominent. When viewed at a large fullscreen size, I think it looks a little weird, but it’s more important that it looks good small.
5. Though this may be your first novel cover, you have done graphic art before. Tell us about your other works. Would you say you have a usual style?
I’ve dabbled in a few different digital mediums, vector art, digital painting, pixel graphics, etc. My strengths are probably focused on realism, stylized realism, or cartoony figures.
6. Would you be open to cover art commissions in the future? If so, what genres, themes, and images would you be most excited to work on?
I’m open to other cover art commissions. Sci-fi, fantasy, or books with strong thematics would be my top picks for making cover designs.
7. Is there somewhere that interested people can view your work online and contact you if interested in commissioning cover art?
I have a Deviant Art account that is… really out of date. I can also be contacted via email at: stephanie dot hoover at vosonos dot net.
Thanks Stephanie, for creating some amazing covert art for my novel, and for sharing your thoughts about the process!
Learn more about Red Soil Through Our Fingers including the themes, policy issues, and how you can pre-order the novel from several major ebook retailers.