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Where do you find cover artists?

9 May 2013

Passive Guy received a simple question from Amey:

Where does an indie author find cover illustrators online?

She knows about DeviantArt, but finds it too complicated and believes there aren’t a lot of real artists there.

So, what’s the answer to Amey’s question?

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71 Comments to “Where do you find cover artists?”

  1. Depends on how much you want to pay. There was an artist whose work I admired, who has done book covers. Since he had a website, I sent him an email, and learned that he’d do a cover for $500, which I thought was surprisingly reasonable.

    The point is to not be afraid of asking a pro artist. They’re just as interested in getting work as anyone you’d find on DeviantArt.

    • Hi Bill

      Who was this artist? I’d like to look him/her up. $500 for a true pro artist is reasonable.

      • I’m an author and cover artist/illustrator! It depends on the style and medium an author is looking for. The author has to feel it and if the artist has what they want it’s a win, win situation. There are allot of very talented artists our there.
        Please check out my style at http://www.DonnaMassa.com if you like what you see and your inspired by my work contact me.
        info@DonnaMassa.com
        Sincerely in Peace,
        Donna Massa-Chappee

  2. “She knows about DeviantArt, but finds it too complicated and believes there aren’t a lot of real artists there.”

    Er…what? There are plenty of real artists on DA. I’d wonder what her definition of ‘real’ is.

    Anyway, I’d encourage Amey to visit here:

    http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,123703.msg1837120.html#msg1837120

    And spend some time on the Kindle boards Writer’s Cafe in general. There are a lot of folks there doing cover art and cover design.

    • ^This.

    • Ditto. I’ve found excellent artists of pro level skill on DA and either commissioned original work for my covers or licensed existing work. It’s where I found two of my cover artists – Louisa Gallie and Isis Sousa–and licensed existing work for a bookmark from Nathie Block.

    • All of the artists, with vanishingly few exceptions, on deviantART are real artists.

      Many of them are amateurs and more than a few of them haven’t got a lot of talent. Or any at all.

      But to say they are not “real” artists goes beyond insulting and demonstrates a deep lack of understanding as to the nature of art.

      Sorry, had to say it.

  3. 99designs.com lets you receive up to 99 spec designs. The designers only get paid if you pick them. A great resource to get a lot of different professional (okay, some are a little grade school but usually you get several pros per project) covers to choose from. It is where I got my cover artist 🙂

  4. I tried Mark Coker’s list, but although the sample covers were often inexpensive they didn’t impress me.

    Carl Graves sells some for $200 or so. I disremember his URL but I think it’s his name dot com. I liked those but (okay, I’m cheap) I didn’t want to spend that much. I would have paid him more than that, actually, but his site said he wasn’t creating any more custom covers and I didn’t fall in love with any he had available. Besides, I want to do at least a little bit of branding so my covers will be identifiable. Dunno if that actually matters, but buying pre-designed covers won’t get me there.

    99 Designs seems okay, but there’s a strong bias toward nonfiction covers. Which is fine if that’s what you’re doing.

    In the end, I’ve done my covers myself. I used to be a half-assed graphic designer, about 25 years ago. I don’t think I’m very good at it, but learning to do better is on my list of Very Important Things.

    FWIW, I’d strongly recommend getting original files that preserve “layers” (.PSD or whatever) from whomever you hire, so if you decide to change your title–or anything else–it’s a quick and easy edit. Also, even if you’re only planning an ebook at the moment, it’s probably a good idea to get images that would be suitable for printing. Otherwise you’ll eventually end up paying twice…at least.

    I’ll check back and see if anyone has a better answer. I’d like one!

  5. If you want a whimsical illustration for a cover, my friend Kee Rash does a great job with that. To see his work, check out my covers on Amazon for Near Death Cat: Nine Lives with a Speed Bump at the End and Finnegan’s Way: The Secret Power of Doing Things Badly. His e-mail is Krrash@aol.com and phone number is XXX-XXX-XXXX.

  6. Hello!

    I haven’t actually published my book, or even began writing it for that matter, but being a very organised person I researched the whole process of self-publishing before I invested money into it, and I have a few designer websites bookmarked for when I come to that stage.

    Here are my tips:

    1. First, google search book cover designers. Sounds simple but some people don’t even bother looking. Then try searching for designers within your genre, for example “romance book cover designers” or “fantasy book cover designers.” Hopefully, some big and successful book designing companies will appear in the results.

    2. However, I would also spend time reading blogs around self-publishing, both on the topic of self-publishing and authors working in your genre. Many designers will be linked or suggested on there. Many authors will link the people they have used.

    3. Your best bet would be to google search self-published works in your genre, identify good looking covers, find the book on amazon, preview it and if the author was nice, they will have mentioned their designer in their copyright page. Google search the designer, find their website and portfolio and check them out!

    Hope this helps!
    -Godfrey Knaggs

  7. I found mine by marrying her brother. She’s AWESOME and does freelance work: http://www.carlystricklandart.com

  8. My son works in the video games industry and knows a lot of digital artists. My cover for the Curiosity Cabinet was done by a Scottish digital/textile artist friend as a gift to me. My most recent cover artist – for The Physic Garden – and one I hope to stay with for a LONG time is a young Dundee based guy called Michael Doig. I think he’s exceptional. He’s also on Deviantart. I consider myself lucky to have found him: http://michaeldoigart.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/daily-deviation-attained.html

  9. 1) word of mouth (I use EJR Digital Art and have been happy)
    2) copyright pages (some copyright pages indicate the cover designer

    If you see a cover you love and the style fits your vision for your cover, reach out to the author for the cover designer’s name. Most authors would graciously share that kind of information.

  10. Professional artists abound on DeviantArt. You just have to learn how to find them. That’s where I went and I love my cover art. All of it was done by Leos Ng “Okita” luches.deviantart.com except the White Tigress cover by Sandara.

    • I’ve been on DeviantArt for close to two years, & I can attest there are a lot of good amateur & professional artists there. And as David says, you just have to learn how to find them.

      A couple of hints are these. First, get past the opening pages & look for artists that appeal to you, & once you find one, you’ll find more. Then there are tools, which include a Deviant’s–that’s what they call themselves–Favorites list, & now each piece has a “More like this” link. In other words, the good stuff tends to cluster. Lastly, it helps to create an account for browsing–which is free.

      But you aren’t going to find the right cover artist on DeviantArt in 15 minutes any more than finding the right artist anywhere in 15 minutes–unless one is already a friend or a relative.

      • Amazingly, I found a great artist for my Commando novels on DA – in literally about 15 minutes. He’s fast, he is very responsive to feedback, and his rates are very reasonable.

        I was searching DA for “British Commandos WW2”, and he’d actually done a Commando that had just the sort of style and character I was looking for.

        Haven’t looked back since, and he’s done the cover of a friend’s novel and the cover of one short story for me and working on another.

        • Yeah, but did you go to DA just to prove me wrong? 😉

          People should consider using DA as a resource, whether it takes more or less than 15 minutes to find an artist.

          • It was just luck that the search ended so quickly, but a fellow action/adventure author, Jack Murphy, found his cover artist on DA and remembering this I decided to check it out.

            I think if someone is specifically looking for an illustrator/cover artist, and not just a graphic designer who’ll do some Photoshop/Illustrator work with preexisting elements, DeviantArt is probably the best place to start looking.

      • I spent several days looking, adding things to my favorites, and then contacting a lot of good artists. It was all worth it.

        • Deviantart is Youtube for graphic artists. It isn’t indie-book cover.com or harcore aspiring game designer.com. It’s a melting pot of pro and amateur artists from all over the world so you’re going to get all types of folks.

          I highly recommended it as I’ve fond two fabulously talented, professional and affordable designers there. I recommend it particularly for writers who want the illustrated look commonly find in Sci-Fi/Fantasy, but I’ve always said this with caveats that you’ll be querying artists who, like writers, will have greatly different professional and artistic goals and your search will not be quick or easy.

          Many artist’s never returned emails inquiring about book cover design and some wanted thousands of dollars for 5-10 hours of work. There’s a ton of game designers there, some who’ve worked on major titles and (I forget his name, Steve something) Ridley Scott’s conceptual designer has a page there showing all his ‘Prometheus’ work.

          An amazing resource and talent pool but be prepared to do some digging to find the right artist and, likely, the really talented ones won’t be cheap. So that’s my take on Deviant.

          I would also stop by Kindleboards as there’s been an explosion of cover designers posting there recently. In most cases you can get some pretty amazing pre-mades for under 50$, custom photo-manip for $80-100.

  11. I read Joel Friedlander’s e-Book Cover Design Awards every month, and through that, I found Kit Foster. If you see a designer whose work you like, you’ll have to google the name to find their website.

  12. I married one! And there are professional artists on DeviantArt.

  13. I found one living in my guest bedroom *grin* He’s pretty cool and I’m always happy to give out his contact info. Although, he gets irritated at me because I haven’t let him redo the covers I currently have up. He’s doing my next one, though!

  14. I make all my covers myself, using stock photos(Depositphotos and ShutterStock mainly), Paint.net(modified with a lot of specialized plug-ins), the occasional use of Photoshop CS2(cheapo, old version) for some stuff that I can’t do in Paint.net(GIMP would work fine, too, though, and that’s free), and I grab free commercial use fonts from fontsquirrel.

    The positives to this are that my covers literally cost less than $1 most times(except ShutterStock pictures, those are expensive), plus a couple hours of time. I have direct control over everything and can make it look like I want. My first covers were pretty terrible, but I learned how to make better/nicer ones pretty fast.

    The negatives are that a lot of people use similar stock photos(since they’re stock photos and anyone who “buys” them can use them). This is kind of fun, though, since there’s a lot of ways to make a commonly used stock image into something original through various techniques. My covers are also probably not as good as some super pro covers, but I’ve seen some supposedly professional covers from small publishers that were junk. Some of my earlier covers are/were awful, but I can go back and fix them up and make them nice now with minimal extra investment, so that’s not so bad.

    I realize it’s not for everyone, but I’m probably the cheapest person ever(people say I should say frugal, but I’m just cheap) and I’m not going to pay someone $200 for something I can do for $2.

  15. You could try selfpubbookcovers.com

    I don’t like most of them personally, they’re all photoshopped stock photography. But that appears to be *the thing* these days.

    I do some nice artwork and have been thinking about expanding from my own entertainment to doing covers, but I don’t have anything online except for my caricature work. chandrawhitecaricatures.com or sporkdelis.com has my cover art for my own book. I also did the art on my (unfinished)website lenaweiss.com. I’m definitely in the whimsical category as well.

  16. The cover to Diary of a Small Fish was done by Dean Rohrer, a very talented artist with several Big 6 covers (and a New Yorker, too) under his belt. It’s not his main bag, but he did a superb job for me. I paid him $350, more than typical. But we used to play in a rock band together, so…

    http://www.deanrohrer.com

    Here’s the cover:
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005Q33C1K

  17. Here are the artists my shop recommends most frequently (aside for Jeroen ten Berge, whose sked is closed to new clients until after June):

    Stewart Williams at http://www.stewartwilliamsdesign.com/
    Rebecca Swift at http://www.rebeccaswiftartwork.com/
    Peter Ratcliffe at http://bit.ly/pDnfHo

  18. I’m a professional cover artist and most of my work has come from referrals.

    The very best way to find a cover artist is to collect the cover art you find most appealing, then email the author or the publisher and asked who designed that cover.

    Take into consideration not only price, but turnaround, and a detailed account of what you’re getting for the fee.

    If your questions aren’t answered to your satisfaction in writing, go somewhere else.

  19. I recently combed through http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/837698-book-cover-artists-illustrators and thought the following looked like they provided pretty good bang for the buck:

    http://www.kitfosterdesign.com/
    http://www.dreamscapecovers.com/
    http://www.thedarkrayne.com/ (not for covers but I thought her original art was outstanding)
    http://louharper.com/Design.html
    http://artbykarri.com/

    I’ve signed up with Karri to do my next cover.

  20. Kit Foster is a wonderful graphic designer specializing in book covers. He’s also very reasonable. His contact info is at his website kitfosterdesign.com.

  21. I am also a graphic artist specializing in Book Covers.

    My info can be found here:

    http://www.thecovercounts.com

    and

    http://www.facebook.com/thecovercounts

    I am also putting together a list of other cover designers whom I know personally and trust implicitly. It should be done by the end of today
    http://bookcoverdesigners.blogspot.com/

  22. Look up a self-published author whose covers you like and then send them an email asking them about their cover artist. Same as Maria said above. That’s how I found mine, through Lindsay Buroker who graciously told me everything I needed to know.

  23. There are several Goodreads groups with threads where members can recommend cover designers and/or designers can promote their work.

  24. DA has a lot of very talented artist, but if you are looking for a service that does a great job and specializes in publishing, I would recommend Streetlight Graphics. They did the art on my last book and are wonderful. They also do amazing work on eBook and print interior layouts. To get your cover, print layout, ebook layout and another graphic (like a business card or bookmark) it will run you $460. Their site is http://streetlightgraphics.com and you can’t go wrong with them.

  25. Dreamup is run by deviant art, I do believe, but it’s a curated list: http://dreamup.com/find/artists/ For custom artwork and illustrations, this is where I would start.

    If you’re looking for photomanipulations, I’ve run into many talented arists on FB, including Renee at The Cover Counts: facebook.com/thecovercounts?fref=ts An Authors Art: facebook.com/anauthorsart Karri Klawiter: facebook.com/karriklawiter and many others.

  26. Go look at book covers in your genre. I recommend the Pauper’s Book Club for browsing. 🙂 Find a cover you love. Contact the author and ask who did it.

    I found a lot of authors who posted on their websites who did their cover art for this very reason. They got a lot of inquiries. A great cover sells itself, so why not look for a great cover that would entice you to buy? Then go hire the person who did it. 🙂

  27. If you want really professional covers, take Dean Wesley Smith’s class on truly professional covers that dont look like knock-offs of others in the genre, learn to do pro covers yourself. his website contains all his classes and they are damn good.

    There’s also $5 dollar art by direction at a site online, cant think of the name of it. But, google or bing it. There are some great artists there and you cant beat the price, be sure you say it is for a book cover.

    Since most of the ‘book cover’ makers are using all digital which is essentially a drag and drop, crop, shade and add text jobber [easy peasy], and cant do hand drawing, dont have the skills of an ace illustrator or draftsmen/women– digital is another disruptive technology– for many artists who formerly could sell their work for megabucks. No more. With photoshop and inDesign in the cloud for currently $10 a month rental… and inDesign literally once you set up a template, in SECONDS pours your ms Word or PDF manuscript into proper format for all devices… I see the day when authors who are on tight budgets wont pay for that either. They’ll DIY for $10 instead of $100-150-200. The author has to proof the ‘pour’ either way. Fixing widows and orphans while doing so is a snap. The time involved in text only ebooks/epub/pod is so tiny, but most authors seem not to yet realize it is just a few steps and then, uploaded and done.

    Just my .02. I do all my own covers, either by art directing them closely or painting, drawing the art myself. I have bought art, drawn art, rented art from $0 to enough $ to have bought a ford pinto new years ago. Depends on the sales volume expected. I’ ve also written books to go with fabulous artwork I’ve seen done by others and contracted with them to use their art on the cover. There’s not just one way to go. Good luck to all.

  28. Preston DuBose

    I had great luck finding artists at conceptart.org.

  29. You can find eBook cover designers on Fiverr:
    http://fiverr.com/categories/graphics-design/ebook-covers

  30. I found my cover artist when I met a travelling young German man whose hobby was graphic design. He went home after making a few covers for us – learning the basics from us and what we and Createspace/KDP needed and set up http://fireflycovers.com/
    Nils is great at communication and good at cover design and has a network of other artists who will put together a cover for you of altered photographs or drawn art or a combo of both.
    However twitter is good to find active cover designers so search there instead of on Google – Google info can be old… twitter is always new and ppl who have quit for some reason won’t be tweeting, whereas their old web page might be on Google for years or forever.

  31. This is the cover artist I use. She is really reasonable and there are some pretty cheap (and amazing!) pre-mades on her etsy site.

    http://www.etsy.com/listing/130288938/sparkle-self-published-digital-book?ref=shop_home_active

    PS: She has also done covers for print books for me as well.

  32. I’ll toss in Jared Rackler. He’s done workj for friends. Fast, inexpensive (generally under $100), good looking: https://jaredrackler.wordpress.com/gallery-of-works/

    And from upthread, I think the $5 thing you were thinking of is Fiverr: http://fiverr.com/categories/graphics-design

  33. And of course, if you’re a romance novelist, the go to person is Kim Killion Hot Damn Designs. She does her own photoshoots: http://www.hotdamndesigns.com/home.asp (also does web sites, promo materials, etc.).

  34. I found my graphic designer/cover artist through my epublisher, and love her covers. She works with stock art photo, so is much more reasonably priced than many other cover designers. She also works freelance, so she’s available for other projects at
    http://www.tibbsdesign.com/covers-2/

  35. Here’s a question for the hive mind…if one had a specific style they wanted for some cover art, what sites are best to post those specific needs?

    I ask because I’m working on a weird western series, and I’d love to have cover art done in a style reminiscent of Frederic Remington. I’ve been spending a lot of time digging through DA and other sites, but I’m wondering if it’d be more efficient to post a job offering on their forums with the specifics and see what happens.

    Other approaches, other sites to try? I think I’ll plan to hit local bookstores and sit in the westerns section and compile a list of artist names if I can find them in the paperbacks.

  36. My publisher often uses SelectOGrafix, who does a very fine job on book covers. The owner also does covers for indie authors as well. I don’t know what her rates are, but I’m sure they’re very reasonable.

    She’s done mine, which has garnered numerous comments/reactions, both good and bad. And she can be found at http://www.selectografix.com

  37. I went to C2E2 last month, and spent 8 hours in the artist alley, walking up and down, looking at the art, and talking to the artists whose style matched the books I was writing. I chatted, got their rates, took their cards, and sent follow-up emails.

    About half use Deviantart as a portfolio site. These are professional artists who work in visual arts industries.

    • Yeah, if you write in any fantasy/sci-fi genre, the art shows at cons can be very useful. Also, people make and sell steampunk/Elven/whatever objects, and I’d think that many of them would be willing to have their items photographed and featured on a book cover.

  38. If you like my covers (www.daletphillips.com), you can contact http://www.snapichic.com for some great, affordable cover art and design.

  39. There are a lot of very talented cover artists out there, but when I first started to self publish, I looked around and chose Jeroen ten Berge. He’s definitely not the cheapest, but I don’t think he really wants to be. What he is, is reasonably priced, very approachable, and a consummate professional. Choosing Jeroen was one of my better business decisions and I recommend him without reservation. His website is:

    http://jeroentenberge.com/

    • I agree he’s very good, but at the time I was farming around, and contacted him, his prices were way, wayyy out of my range (if memory serves, ebook + wraparound was close to a thousand dollars), and his backlog was such that it was going to take months for him to even consider the job.

      Is he even taking on new clients these days?

      • I’m not sure whether he’s taking new clients, but he continues to do my stuff on a timely basis. And as far as price goes (and obviously, this is just my opinion), I think you usually get what you pay for. I do know that my books have done very well and that’s due in large measure to Jeroen’s covers. I’m pretty much an unknown, and his covers captured the essence of both books extremely well and enticed enough folks to hit the ‘buy’ button to give me a fighting chance. You definitely can find cheaper, but I doubt you can find better. I don’t say that to be argumentative, merely to put my opinion in context. As the saying goes, your mileage may vary.

      • He’s only accepting projects from existing clients at the moment.

  40. @Jim Johnson If you want Frederick Remington, go to ArtRenewal.com and see which pieces would suit you. They will sell you a suitable file. A bit pricy for RF work, but gorgeous reproduction.

  41. I found one cover image on Flickr. It was a little hard to track the artist down, but he ended up being kind enough to let me use the painting for free! The rest of the cover design for my self-issued books, I do myself.

    At some point in the future, though, I’ll try to put together a more cohesive set of covers. The comments on this post will be invaluable then.

  42. May I recommend my awesome artist – Robin Ludwig. She has a real gift.

    http://www.gobookcoverdesign.com/

  43. I’m doing a sci-fi series now and using Mike Tabor (who does Hugh Howey’s self-pubbed versions of many of his books). He’s been great, and is affordable for the quality of work he does.

    You can find him at http://miketabor.deviantart.com/gallery/

    The kind of cover that works for each type of book varies widely; wander around and find what would attract you as a reader in your genre and follow the trail.

  44. I’ve been messing around in Photoshop for a few years and when my first publisher asked what I could do, I showed her and the next thing I knew I had another career. I do mostly photo manipulation covers starting at $50. My daughter does hand drawn art and has illustrated YA books inside and on the cover, has done chic lit covers and paints on my digital covers when needed. We’re both on Deviant Art too. Our graphic design website is at http://winterheart.com.

    Oh, and Winterheart Design has also won an EPIC Ariana Award for cover art. We’re proud of what we’ve done and we’re proud to be able to list quite a few authors as our regular clients. And we proudly make beautiful covers for a reasonable cost for indie authors.

  45. I’ve been a professional graphic designer for over 30 years and my specialty is cover design. I’m also a published author, and as an author I can relate to other authors with a vision for their book’s cover. You can see samples of my covers on my design website:
    http://www.duvalldesign.wordpress.com/book-cover-design

    I’ll be giving a workshop on how authors can be their own art director when they contract an artist to design the cover of their book. This workshop will be part of the curriculum at The Colorado Gold Writers Conference in Denver, CO on September 20-21, 2013. http://www.rmfw.org

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