Painting Pictures

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.

Apparently there’s an app for that.

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, 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.


9 thoughts on “Painting Pictures

  1. As an avid reader, I have more often than not been irritated that the cover bears no relation to the story. I’m so happy for you to have found an artist who will work with you and seems to be on your wavelength. Would that other authors could be so lucky. Congratulations!

  2. I love hiring artists to do covers/artwork for my novels. It’s always fun to see their vision for my characters/setting and watch it all come to life.

    It’s funny how everybody has different visions for what a character looks like in a novel (which always inevitably leads to “They hired THAT actor!?” when readers see a novel adapted to film). I always pictured Atlas looking more like Patrick Swayze. Of course, that’s just how I pictured it in my mind’s eye.

    Hope everything is going well with you and your writing career. Viktoria Gavrilenko seems to be quite the talented artist and I will definitely have to check out more of her work.

  3. These are amazing! However I pictured Astra different (shorter hair) & Atlas older. As a lifelong fan of all things comic and scince ficton related, I was surprised that I found this gem of a story through Amazon.

    Any thought on turning these adventures into a full time comic book?

      1. Oh, I thought the first picture was Astra, I stand corrected.

        Question: will we ever see another Astra based story? Also, I personally would love to read an Atlas origin book. Just putting it out there!

      2. No plans for Atlas, but I have at least one more Astra story waiting. But first I’m publishing Bite Me: Big Easy Nights–Artemis’ adventure that comes between WtC and VI. After that we’ll have to see, but I may be finishing up Worst Contact, a sci-fi novel, first.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s