A few weeks ago I hired artist Hans Binder Knott to illustrate the cover of the first book in a series I intend to indie publish later this year (tentative series name: The Calypto Cycle). Last week he sent the first set of concept drawings. I had the odd feeling of being both terrified and excited when I saw his email in my inbox, and it took me a few hours to actually muck-up the courage to open it. I’ve had artwork done for my stories before and never experience such trepidation, but this was different. In all those other cases, someone else commissioned the work and someone else paid for it, so my emotional and economic investment wasn’t nearly as deep. If I didn’t care for the artwork produced (that’s happened once or twice), it wasn’t a big deal. This, of course, was different, and I certainly felt it.
When I finally opened the email, I realized my concerns were unfounded. Hans sent six rough sketches of different covers. They were all based on some extensive discussion we had prior to him coming aboard, and each took a different look at an idea we had settled on during those discussions—different angles, different backgrounds, different poses, different compositions, etc. While none of those six concepts were the right one, among the six, Hans had captured all the elements I was looking for.
After some further discussion of what I liked (a lot) and didn’t like (not a lot), Hans went back to the drawing board, and yesterday he sent me two more updated concepts. Without hesitation this time, I opened his email, and to say I was impressed would be a bit of an understatement—Hans knocked it out of the park. Not with one of the concepts, but with both, leaving me now with the difficult decision of which concept I wanted him to develop into the final cover art.
I decided to sleep on it, and this morning, I made some quick-and-dirty mock covers from the art work. I solicited some opinions from the family, and talked over the pros and cons with others (and myself, as well). It was a tough choice, but in the end, I feel the one I picked simply fit this book better than the other, and I’m very excited to see the final product.
So it’s back in Hans’ court again. If we stay on schedule, I should see the final cover art in about a month. Once it’s done, I promise to reveal it (I don’t want to ruin the surprise), and I will likely write a lengthy post about the process I’ve gone through and my experience (both the good and the bad) for others to learn from.