The Evolution of Custom Art #5

Right. So. It’s been a while since I’ve updated anything. Trevor Smith, the artist for “Diabolus,” just sent me this a while ago:

"Diabolus" 6x9 paperback cover (almost complete!)

“Diabolus” 6×9 paperback cover (almost complete!)


2 thoughts on “The Evolution of Custom Art #5

  1. That really is impressive. I am having some interior artwork done for my debut sci-fi novel and the original artist and I have parted company for various reasons – the way you describe your relationship with your artist (sending concept sketches, agreeing the look of the illustrations and so on) seems so much more professional than the guy I was using and I am glad to hear that really is how it works. That’s what I expected. I’ll look your guy up. Haven’t dipped into your books, but the covers make me want to so they’re working!

    • Hi, Lucas. Thanks for the reply.

      To be honest, my journey to find an artist was a horrible, miserable experience. The original artist did great work, great enough that I kept the ‘theme’ of the idea all the way to this now-finished product. Problem is, the original artist only completed some rough sketches, then went silent for months. Then told me he couldn’t finish them. From there, it got depressing. I went through three other artists, four if you count Trevor (the first contact we had with each other, I blew Trevor off over something trivial during negotiation. Purely because four other artists had wasted my time and I mistakenly though I was getting jerked around again).

      Once Trevor and I came to an agreement on price and time frame, he worked like a champ to make sure the job got done, and was exactly what I envisioned. I’m already contracting him to do my next cover for a sci-fi alien invasion trilogy. He sent me regular updates, and I did my best to not be a diva or a drama queen, which sounds weird, but after going through four artists, I truly began to wonder if I was a complete asshole that was impossible to work with.

      Turns out, it wasn’t me. One artist strung me along for a couple of weeks before bailing with some lame excuse. Another, a local artist that was a good friend of a good friend, strung me along for another month. We’d even started plotting out a graphic novel and some adult comics (just adult themed, not erotic or x-rated). After a couple of weeks of no contact, I finally got a hold of him, and got the run-around.

      The worst was a highly-recommended ‘professional’ that was fairly reasonable for the ebook cover, but wanted an arm and a leg for the print jacket (Trevor included both in the price we agreed upon, and it was VERY reasonable for the amount of awesome I received in return). I explained, in detail, just as I had with all the previous artists, what I wanted. Two weeks later, I finally received a simple sketch that looked like someone had drawn with a pen on a paper napkin. The sketch itself wasn’t terrible (I expect very rough sketches at the beginning), but it was absolutely nothing like what I’d asked for. The guy just went off in another direction. I wrote back, politely explaining that the sketch was okay, but wasn’t anything close to what I wanted, and once again directed him to the original artist’s work, and once again explained that I wanted it based off the ideas I originally explored.

      In return, I received not one, not two, but three extremely rage-filled, unprofessional, insulting email replies. They became almost incoherent because of the intensity of rage the artist was directing at me, accusing me of wasting his precious time, being an unprofessional asshole, and then he went into some nonsense about copyright infringement. I never bothered to reply, but this was my lowest point, and I nearly scrapped the book altogether. It was also at this point that Trevor and I were exchanging emails, and he said something trivial that set me off (my fault completely, I was enraged and depressed and thought he was just going to waste my time like the others). Luckily I ate some pride and went back to him, and luckily he was kind enough to take on the job.

      So, the moral of this story (sorry for the spam-o’-text haha) is that it sometimes takes a lot of hassle and heartache to find someone truly worth working with. Definitely give Trevor a shot. He’s probably busy enough to be backed up a month or three, but as you can see from my cover, the wait is very much worth it. He’s easy to work with, has a good sense of humor (though he likes ‘soccer,’ whatever that is (there’s no other sport than hockey. period)), and definitely is a professional in every way. The truth is, his cover will probably sell more books than the nonsensical drivel written in crayon between the covers haha.

      Right. So. Again, I apologize for the length of reply. But I wanted to let you know that finding an artist that worked out satisfactorily was a journey that almost made me give up on the whole book and move on. So… don’t give up, and always remember that this self-publishing thing means every new author makes a ton of mistakes at first, and in just about every area (editing, covers, promotion and marketing, etc.). It’s a rite of passage, trial by fire, all those good cliches, but because it is a business, you’ll appreciate learning the ropes and staying in control of your creative works and your career.

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