Saturday, March 29, 2014

Book Cover Design with Liliana Sanches

The cover of a book should, essentially, be the icing on the cake. When browsing books, I look for a strong hook because I believe a good cover evokes anticipation to dive into the story. 

On the blog today is professional book designer Liliana Sanches of Princess of Shadows.

Cover design: Liliana Sanches
Liliana, tell us a little about how you came to be a book cover designer. Was it something you grew up dreaming of doing since you were young?
I didn’t exactly plan or dream to become a book cover designer. I have a master’s degree in graphic design, which is something a lot wider. but I’ve always been very passionate about communication and telling stories through a single image. I think when I started working in digital art, I ended up gravitating towards that and soon people became interested in my work because it spoke to them.  

Most authors are mystified about how designers work. What goes into your process when you design a book cover?
Graphic design, more than art, it’s a method. It includes the communication of an idea or concept that should be perceived by the viewer, and at the same time leave an imprint in order for him to adopt a certain behavior.
Cover design: Liliana Sanches
That said, when working on a book cover, it is of absolute importance for the designer to know as much about the story as possible (characters, setting, time frame, objects) to really have a grasp and feel of it as a whole, and also listening to the author about any ideas he may already have.

I, personally, always try to keep in mind that I’m bringing someone else’s world to life, which is a huge responsibility; therefore, it should be respected above all else.

Have you always designed covers for indie authors, or did you previously work for traditional publishers?
I’ve worked for publishers as well. Unfortunately, in some cases I don’t get to work directly with the authors. 

Are there specific rewards for you that come from working directly with authors? Or specific difficulties in the process?
Cover design: Liliana Sanches
My relationship with the authors is extremely positive. In some cases we end up forming a bond that goes beyond work, which I’m very grateful for and it’s the best reward really. I’ve been working as a freelancer for around 8 years now and any of the (very few) less positive situations came from my own inexperience, but they were obviously used to my own advantage and made professionally stronger.

What do authors need to know to have the best outcome when working with a professional cover designer?
My best advice is choose someone who is qualified. Someone who has a good grasp of how visual communication works.

Nowadays anyone can download and play with Photoshop; however, a pretty image isn’t enough to making to the viewer interested and actually sell the book. A solid knowledge of subjects such as color/shape psychology, typography design, fine arts, and photography will make the difference between that “pretty image” and a book cover that will stay in people’s minds long after they’re away from it.
Cover design: Liliana Sanches
What is your take on typographic covers versus the illustration or photo-centered cover?
I believe graphic design can’t be seen as something linear like that. There isn’t anything inherently right or wrong, unless it’s Comic Sans! *laughs* Seriously though, to answer this question I’d have to look at each context. Purely typographic or minimal designs can be the best options for a certain story, just as extremely intricate illustrations can be the best for others.

What is your take on e-book covers versus print covers? Do you design differently for each format?
There are some technical things that need to be changed when switching from paper to an online format. For instance, on paper when the image is printed it appears darker than what we see on the screen. This is not only because when we first saw it was on a source of light, but also because paper presents many variations (coated or uncoated, thickness, color, etc.) and with them, many changes will occur.

Cover design: Liliana Sanches
Do you have any tips for authors who are self-publishing when thinking about their book covers, hiring designers, or any other part of the process? 
As I stated previously you should try and hire someone qualified to do it; however, I understand that when you’re starting off you don’t always have the money to make such investment.

If you are considering designing a cover for your own book, make sure to do some research beforehand. Study the best examples made by professionals (usually these are the best sellers). Don’t follow fads or your own personal taste. Try to be as objective as possible and critique it as if you were the viewer looking at it for the very first time. What does it tell you? Would you buy it? Is the cover giving out the atmosphere of the story?

I started studying Visual Arts at the age of 16 and soon felt attracted to the Romantic artwork from the 19th century. The Pre Raphaelites and Friedrich were my biggest inspirations at the time, and I felt compelled to explore this graphic language of desolated landscapes that were the reflection of the painter's emotions.
After graduating college, specializing Graphic Design, I created my own business under the name of "Princess of Shadows", my style had now evolved, and had technical knowledge to support it. Intricate concepts with a much better grasp of image composition and visual balance, and also used color and shape psychology to imprint my work on the viewer.
Along the years I have been working with musicians, authors and even other designers who have allowed me to express my creativity, develop visual communication skills and explore different graphic styles to better suit each project. 
Nowadays, my personal work has been exploring the human psyche, imbuing it with a dark surreal feeling. My biggest inspirations are J-Horror movies, dreams/nightmares and mental health pathologies.

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