artist abbreviated: christopher silas neal

So I have this little list in my Gmail account that has a variety of links. This list includes blogs to check out, book covers to love (or loathe), illustrators, designers, photographers, you name it. And illustrator Chris Silas Neal has been sitting on this little list for quite some time. I think it’s high time I share his work with you.

He’s the guy who illustrated this cover. You might have seen it around somewhere or something.

A fangirly moment here, if I may. I have not read Chains yet. I’ve heard fantastic things about Chains but the reason why I want to read it is because of this cover. I’m not a historical fiction aficionado. I haven’t read much of it, to be honest. But there is something so poignant about this cover that just makes me want to pick up and hold this book. I want it to whisper its secrets to me. (I’m sure those whispers would include whisper-yelling, “Geez woman, READ ME ALREADY.”) From its combination of color to its handcrafted lettering and even to right down to its shading, this is the type of cover art that doesn’t feel manufactured or contrived.

And all of Neal’s work on his site feels the exact same way.  There’s something quietly beautiful about his illustrations. I was introduced to his work last year by my coworker (another illustrator) Vince. He sent this image via instant messenger, and I was immediately in love:

Cover for an MG novel by Kate Elise. Click through for Goodreads link.

Grounded is the perfect example of what I think is missing on the face of a lot of YA literature. It’s incredibly emotive. It can stand on its own as a work of art, but it gestures to its story within, paying respect to the fact that some author slaved over writing its insides. When I see a SGiPD (or Girls in Gowns) cover, I feel like I already know what the novel is about. Or, conversely, I don’t necessarily need to know what the novel is about because 80% of the time, its cover is a fraud and that sad skinny girl would never be caught dead in that dress anyway. 

Before I get too ranty, here’s more of Neal’s beautiful work.

Have I mentioned how unfair it is that MG gets all the good covers? Also, it’s a bit ridiculous how talented this guy is. Because if illustrating covers I’d like to have framed on my wall some day isn’t enough, he’s also made a little film for Kate Spade.

I mean really.

I would totally JPEG-bomb the rest of this post but you probably ought to go to cyber-stalk Chris on his tumblr or follow him on Twitter instead.

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5 thoughts on “artist abbreviated: christopher silas neal

  1. Love these covers. Yes, it is fascinating that MG cover art has a kind of subtlety that’s missing from YA. Makes me think that publishers are marketing MG with the adult buyer in mind, not necessarily the preteen. Makes sense, I guess, since most MG titles are probably bought by parents for their kids. Anyway, it does make me long for similarly understated covers on YA novels from time to time.

    • You raise an interesting point I’ve never even thought of — the idea that these MG books are more geared toward an older audience because they’re the ones with the purchasing power…

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