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Whether you’re a seasoned pro with a varied portfolio and keen to break into a new market, or an emerging illustrator with their heart set on seeing their artwork in Foyles, designing beautiful books and understanding how to get on the radar of publishers is key to success in this market.
Founded in London in 1947, The Folio Society publishes carefully crafted imaginative editions of the world’s finest fiction and non-fiction books, offering a rich literary experience to all readers.
A Folio book is a unique object, one in which typography, illustration, paper, and printing and binding techniques all play a part in creating a harmonious whole.
Raquell Leis Allion, one of two art directors responsible for all bindings and artist commissions
at Folio Society, says: “Before working on any book we meet with the editor and the production team to discuss an approach and if there is anything specific, they need from a commission. We look through selected images and discuss materials we might use for the bindings.”
Depending on the number of illustrations, their complexity and the artist’s chosen medium, it can take between six and 12 months to get from planning to finished artwork.
The artists will then read (or re-read) the book and are asked to suggest scenes to be illustrated and detail the type of binding to be used.
“We have a vast library of cloths and papers, varying in colors, weights and textures. I work with the artist to choose the perfect color and material. Often this is intuitive, but sometimes I’ll be picking a color for a very specific reason. A book may contain a historic uniform, so I match its color and its texture,” adds Raquell.
Bristol-based paper artist Diana Beltran Herrera enjoys transforming materials and replicating the world surrounding her, yet mostly with the flexible and easily-transformable paper.
“I like doing layering with paper, cutting things and exposing textures. Shadows have become quite important recently, and paper can give more life to a simple design for a book cover,” adds Diana.
“I try to plan it digitally first so that the process of making comes easy. I like to use paper cutting with a little sculpture, so I have flat parts and then parts with a lot of volume and texture.”
London based illustrator and art director Matt Saunders first came to the attention of publishers with his work for JK Rowling’s Pottermore, the global digital publisher of Harry Potter and the Wizarding World creating the illustrated scenes for The Sorting Ceremony and wand selection.
“I was creating personal projects at the time that visually lend themselves to book covers and that’s maybe what got me in. Pottermore opened my work up globally to publishers. Most of the books I do now originate in the States where my work resonates.”
Saunderson illustrated 50 book covers, taking inspiration from the natural world and his love for film and cinema, thus focusing on striking landscapes, dramatic lighting and atmospheric scenes created by hand and then colored digitally.
Colombian illustrator Melissa Castrillion prefers a mixture of traditional hand-drawn and digital-coloring-and-compositing for her book illustrations, approaching the design of each image as you would a screen print.
“I combine a limited color palette and hand drawn layers with a mechanical pencil. Each layer is then scanned in and digitally colored in Photoshop as a series of single-color layers. Black-and-white layers end up being red, blue & yellow on the computer. I then layer them over each other to make a full illustration,” Melissa adds.
Graphic designer and illustrator Harry Goldhawk works out of his studio in Cornwall, alongside his wife and fellow designer Zanna. He recently completed Shakespeare for Every Day of Year, his third in a series of Poetry books, edited by Allie Esiri.
“The trickiest part was figuring out a way to fit the word ‘Shakespeare’ in a way that looked organic. It took me a little while to figure out a way to place it,” he says.
Harry had a lot of freedom for the cover, and chose a series of themes and objects that appear throughout Shakespeare’s literary works, intertwining them with leaves and flowers.
Source: Digital Arts Online