authorthoughts AND behind the design: adrienne kress & outcast

If you paid a visit to The Story Siren or The Book Smugglers yesterday, you may have already spotted this lovely little gem:

outcastadriennekress3

But let me tell you what makes this cover particularly interesting to me. I mean, besides the fact that yeah, it does make me want to read its summary: I love the typeface, colors, and sprinkling of symbolism on its face without it being too heavy in a “I got tipsy and fell into a giant vat of Photoshop” kinda way. But not too simple as it doesn’t feel listless, either. I definitely feel the “quirky, paranormal YA” vibe from this cover design. But as I started earlier, what makes this cover so great is that it was designed by its author, Adrienne Kress.

You know I’d be lying if I said that ebook covers aren’t stereotypically…ahem…different. I won’t come out with guns blazing claiming that the lot of them are fugly, either, but really, we’re on a cover blog here, folks. Currently, they’re not exactly drinking from the deep end of the great cover design pool. At least not from what I’ve gathered. And I think in a lineup of online jpegs of book covers I wouldn’t peg Outcast as an ebook-only release.

Designing her own cover was a new experience for this multi-talented creative. I’m honored to have Adrienne here on the blog to share the process!

TCG: Yo, Adrienne! (I’m so not sorry) You tell me you designed a book cover…by accident? How’d that come about?

AK: Lol, yes, it is a bit odd isn’t it? It’s not like you’re just walking down the street, trip, and oops here’s a cover!

What happened was this: I was going back and forth with my publisher discussing images that I thought might be interesting options for the cover. And I was kind of inspired. So one night I started playing around with Photoshop (Photoshop is my zen garden, whenever I play on it I have a singular focus and find it very calming), and came up with a cover idea. It was all images I’d grabbed from online and was cobbled together very roughly. But I sent it to my publisher as an example of something I thought might work. And they loved it. And while I suppose I could have left the actual cover making to them, I felt a sense of ownership for this project. I also rather liked the challenge. So I kind of took it upon myself to create a proper cover by licensing stock images and also creating original art with Clarice Thornton (a friend of my mother’s). And I played with it all in Photoshop.

And that is how that happened :) .

This may be a bit of an odd question, but what are your favorite things about the cover? What do you think is the most important thing that stands out?

I of course really love all the elements. But what I love most of all is how well the cover captures the essence of the story. It’s got a magical mysterious feel, but I think the silhouette of the couple adds a certain lightness to the tone. The image also captures a really nice moment in the book between the two main characters, which I like.

I also love the wings constellation in the sky. And the Spanish moss. I think the Spanish moss is just gorgeous.

Paranormal book covers, regardless of what genre they’re in, tend to get a pretty bad (and stereotypical) rap. What things did you know you didn’t want on the cover?

I didn’t want a photographic cover. While there are stunning photographic covers out there (I personally believe I was a recipient of one of them myself with THE FRIDAY SOCIETY), I think they can sometimes veer into the cliche. Especially in the paranormal romance genre. I also didn’t want a cover that was too too serious. While there are some real moments of pathos in OUTCAST, it also has a light touch and a sense of humour.

Henri_de_Toulouse-Lautrec_049

Also, as far as personal taste is concerned, I prefer graphic art covers. I like covers that look like posters and especially ones that have a two dimensional aesthetic. When I was studying art history in university, I was obsessed with Toulouse-Lautrec‘s poster art and I think that just always stayed with me. I love the precision of that look. There’s a unique kind of creativity behind its simplicity that I really respect.

Were there any other types of artwork/designs you looked to for inspiration?

Definitely movie posters.  But not necessarily actual movie posters, more often than not they’re fan art posters.  Like this one for SKYFALL:

skyfall

In fact one of my favourites isn’t for a real film at all.  It was a poster someone designed when the Chilean miners were rescued with the assumption that someday someone would make a movie about it:

waitingforphoenix

And other book covers of course.  This one I discovered through your blog actually :) and I really love that graphic novel kind of feel to the illustration:

hautman_bigcrunch

I’d love to show you off: are there any other pieces you’d like to share?

Sure!  Here are a couple things I’m rather proud of :) .

This is a cover I designed for my friend Danielle Younge-Ullman’s novel FALLING UNDER.  It had initially been released by Plume, but when the rights reverted back to her she was now free to self publish the ebook and really give it the cover she wanted.  The artwork is by Louisa McFarlane.

This is a cover I designed for fellow author Lesley Livingston just for fun.  It was what I guess you could call fan art for her novel STARLING.  She showed me this amazing picture of actor Josh Holloway that she thought was a perfect representation of her male lead.  Well, I just was kind of inspired and decided to make a cover out of it.  I find Josh Holloway rather inspiring in general :) .

Starling

Yes, yes I agree:

The 64th Annual Golden Globe Awards - Arrivals

I designed the logo for my theatre company “Killer Kat Productions”:

killer kat logo solo

These are postcards I designed for a stage combat show I was in a few years ago called “Duel of Ages”:

duelofages

I have also created a badge and banner for OUTCAST for its upcoming blog tour:

blogtourbadge

You’ve told me that you’re more of a Photoshop hobbyist — was there anything that you discovered in designing Outcast’s cover that came about to be more difficult or easier than you’d previously assumed?

Actually the hardest thing about doing the cover was not the photoshop, but rather learning about copyright and what stock images I was allowed to use and for what purpose etc. The language on some of those sites is very dense, so I had a lot of emails back and forth with support teams helping me out. 

And even though this is something I’ve already kind of known, I really learned to appreciate the beauty of a mistake. So much of why the cover looks like it does is because I clicked on the wrong thing, or pulled at the wrong layer, and suddenly was inspired by the accident. Keeping an open mind during the design process is key because you just never know what might happen.

What are 3 of your favorite book covers and why?

kress_favorites

The Vesuvius Club by Mark Gatiss: I love the simple Art Nouveau pastiche design that works brilliantly with the pastiche between the covers. I had never heard of this book when I saw it on the shelf in the bookstore (it had just come out), but I immediately picked it up, read the back cover and bought it, just like that. Highly recommend it as a fantastic fun read.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews: How can you not love this? It’s pure brilliance. In fact it’s so brilliant I think it speaks for itself.

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher and Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld: Just beautiful covers and even more gorgeous in person. Also they both have Steampunk elements, and I do love me some Steampunk.

Love your picks, Adrienne! As you all may know, I’m pretty fond of Me & Earl’s cover. ;)

Thank you so much for stopping by TCG, Adrienne! Outcast is out on June 4th (and will also be available as a print book), and you can read the first chapter via Diversion here!

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8 thoughts on “authorthoughts AND behind the design: adrienne kress & outcast

  1. ooh, I didn’t know she designed the cover! I love how different it looks from the typical paranormal cover and I LOVE the starry background/silhouettes. I totally get what she means about Photoshop, a lot of my things I design happen by accident. I also prefer graphic art covers as well. I’m not fond of faces on covers. Anyway, this is a fantastic interview! I love seeing you post again. :)

  2. How beautiful! And how empowering for an author to design her own cover. It would be so cool to see that become more common, or at least for artists and authors to have some opportunities to collaborate or discuss.

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