Today I’m talking to the guys that have created all of my fantastic covers. If you’re an indie author and need a striking image that will attract readers then you should really check this out and get in touch with More Visual Ltd once you’ve read the interview!
First of all, you’re a two-man team, is that right?
Yes that’s right, we’ve been working together for nearly ten years now so we have a great working dynamic. I think it makes us both stronger to have another set of eyes critiquing our work.
How long have you been designing book covers?
I [Olly] started when we were at our previous company, so about ten years ago. Richie (Cumberlidge)’s been doing them for over 15 years.
Did you study art at school/college? What inspired you to become a designer?
Stunning cover for one of David Pilling’s great books
I did Art and Design at college and also went on to do photography as well. In fact, both of my brothers are graphic designers as well and my dad studied graphic design at college, so I guess I was inspired by my own family in a way, it’s sort of in the blood. I’ve always loved playing around with graphics, manipulating images, drawing and sketching ideas, I feel incredibly lucky to have a creative job, especially one where I work with writers. I find my clients very inspiring too; their excitement about their books and ideas is often the best inspiration for my design work. There is nothing more satisfying than when you create a cover that does justice to an author’s idea and helps with the book’s success.
What’s the cover you worked on that you personally like the best?
That’s impossible to answer; I usually prefer whatever I am working on at the time. Seriously I could not pick out one cover. Some I like because they fulfilled a challenging brief, some I like because they are technically strong, some I like because the book’s premise really caught my imagination and I am pleased with the artistic outcome. I can’t pick a cover I like best, but I can say which genre – personally I prefer working on sci-fi and fantasy the most. It’s a genre where you really have to be innovative and imaginative to make a cover stand out.
The Knight of the Cross cover for the Audible version.
Have you ever read any of the books you designed a cover for? If so, what did you think of them?
I read a lot, but I am a sucker for older classics like War of the Worlds, Day of the Triffids, I Am Legend and Dracula. But yes, sometimes I will end up reading a book because I have felt very close to the cover design, or because the writer’s idea really intrigued me. But look, you can’t ask me to start reviewing my clients! I think they all deserve their success; it can’t be easy to write a whole book.
How does the process usually work? Obviously, for my last couple of books I emailed you a sketch of what I wanted and you brought it to life, but the cover of my debut novel, Wolf’s Head was just an idea I gave you and you did the rest. How do authors normally work with you?
I do like it when writers send sketches but it can be even more challenging than a blank slate. You have an idea but I have to make it look as good as it does in your head! It’s quite good when someone knows what they want it gives me a good starting point, as long as I can get an insight into what they’re visualising. Other than that, I just work with written descriptions and sketches with a general plot line to the book.
Has anyone been a real pain to work with (no names needed, just the story!)?
Everyone’s different really and everyone has quirks that are challenging and enthusiasm that’s catching. If you’ve been writing a book for some time and you have lived and breathed the characters and architecture of your novel, it’s hard to pick a visual for the front cover which explains your book and which is understandable to someone glancing at it on the shelf. Sometimes I have to point out that my client needs to step back and not try and explain the entirety of the book in the cover, ideally you want something visually appealing that will bring your reader to your book.
Was my sketch for The Wolf and the Raven the worst an author has ever sent you?
To be fair, a lot of the sketches are quite similar to the one you did! It’s fine; it gives me a good idea of what you want, which saves a lot of time. And if you can’t draw, remember that I couldn’t write a book.
My wonderful concept art for The Wolf & The Raven…
How does it feel when you hold a paperback with one of your covers on it? It must be pretty cool to know thousands of people all around the world have your artwork in their houses!
Yeah definitely it’s good to see it printed, although nowadays quite a few are just seen online.
What other services do you offer? You had a vinyl decal made for me using the Wolf’s Head text for my guitar which was great – what other stuff do you do for authors? Posters? Business cards? Flyers? Mugs?
We originally started out doing stationery, point of sale and brochures whilst doing the covers at the same time. Although we try to specialise in the covers, we can provide other services from printed material to even websites.
My “Wolf’s Head” Jackson Randy Rhoads guitar with custom decal.
What are some of your own favourite book covers (ones you didn’t design I mean)?
I use to like those point horror book covers when I was about 12. You know the ones I mean, the they looked a bit like those illustrations by Drew Struzan (Star Wars, Indiana Jones poster artist). I really like the front cover to the hard back version of The Martian by Andy Weir, the one where the astronaut is being blown through a sand storm.
Do you take inspiration from other places, like album covers?
Probably more from film posters I’ve always been intrigued by them; I’m always looking at apple.com/trailers and Imdb at the new film posters. Saying that, I really like the photography and imagery that Storm Thorgerson created for Pink Floyd, Muse, Biffy Clyro and Mars Volta album covers.
Storm Thorgerson’s iconic (and wonderfully simple) cover for Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon”.
Thanks to Olly for talking to me. I think you’ll agree the covers these guys come up with look fantastic. I’m pretty sure a large part of Wolf’s Head‘s success was down to the great artwork.
If you’d like a quote for your own project, you can find the guys HERE.
This incredible cover was the one that caught my eye when I was looking for designers. Gordon’s books are also great reads!