Being a writer, I have to paint with words, using description, comparison,and imagery, to help the reader paint a picture in his head of the people and places in my stories. But the world in my head is unique to me; each reader has his own world, and the words echoing there will strike light onto different pictures. If my writing is good, there will be a commonality between the pictures we see–but for readers to see the same pictures I do would require telepathy.
Normally this commonplace observation means nothing–until you try and turn your word-pictures into, well, pictures.
From the day I self-published Wearing the Cape, I have been seeking a cover-artist. Not that the covers I’ve got are bad–in fact I rather like the cape-and-symbol layout; it’s elegant and simple and very thematic. But superheroes come from a very visual medium; they begin life as real images, and their appearance is almost as important as what they do. I flirted lightly with graphic design in school, but suck as an artist, thus my quest. Mostly I hunt on Deviantart.com, an awesome site where artists of all types can post portfolios of their work for comments. I’d recommend it to anybody–just keep the adult-filter on. And in early January, I found her. Or rather, I found this piece.
The amazing thing is the artist, Viktoria Gavrilenko, is not yet a full-time professional artist. I’m sure she will be soon, especially after following the link to her portfolio and finding this:
Sadly, Viktoria’s profile stated explicitly that she was not accepting commissions at this time. I fired off an email explaining my situation and asking when her schedule might be free–and got back a “For this, now” reply. I’m still not sure why; it couldn’t have been my devilish good looks or my begging. And she probably regrets it, because the back-and-forth on details has since filled up my mailbox screen. But look at this.
This is a rough color-sketch of Atlas, and she nailed him in almost a single go based on my meandering description and a bunch of emailed reference-pics of various superheroes. This isn’t his cover-pose, but, not to repeat myself, wow. For the past few days, Viktoria and I have been haggling over the cover-angles and other little details, and I’m sure she wishes she had telepathy (that or a gun capable of reaching me here in Vegas), but it’s coming together and I’m very excited.
I will not disclose how much I’m paying for her work (too much for me, and for her level of ability, not enough), but it will be the single largest out-of-pocket expense of my self-publishing career to-date, and it will be worth it. Because I’m beginning to think she might be a little telepathic.