An Interview with Aidana WillowRaven

In our quest to ensure that you find the perfect professional for your work, we have interviewed Aidana WillowRaven. She is an passionate and detailed cover artist who we wanted to get to know and connect you with. You can view her listing here.

1. What made you want to be a cover artist?   

Books … fantasy, to be precise. I was a reluctant reader thanks to feeling overwhelmed with forced-reading in school of topics not interesting to me. Then one day, an amazing book cover with this gorgeous, white dragon on the cover captured my attention and literally compelled me to read it. I was hooked on fantasy. After that, I couldn’t get enough. As I read more and more, I realised the covers could have been done better sometimes … bad proportions or wrong details, or just a boring scene when the book was so much more interesting. I found myself re-doing covers with my own ideas or copying great covers for practice. When it came time to go to college and pick a major, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else but getting my work on book covers. So I majored in fine art and minored in design. The rest was just hard work and timing. 

2. In your view, what makes a good book cover?

First, evoke a feeling. compel the viewer to stop long enough to read the blurb or description. Second, knowing the genre/target audience. Although you don’t want your cover to be a cookie-cutter of every other book in the genre, you do want to make sure enough of the rule of the genre are followed so your target audience knows at a glance that the book is their preferred genre. Then surround those rules with original elements and presentation so it also stands out within its genre. Third, accuracy. As a reader, I don’t like misleading book covers, so why would others? So I try hard to match details and descriptions found in the text. It’s not always possible, because what the author sees in his/her head isn’t always compliant with the laws of nature or physics, lol. ..but I do my best. 

3. Unlike some of the cover artists that we have dealt with, you seem to work with digital art instead of stock images. What attracted you to doing it this way? Are there any difficulties in doing it this way?

Actually, when I started out learning this craft, fantasy and sci-fi books were still, mostly, hand painted. So I learned painting and drawing. While I was in college, then struggling with an illness that prevented me from doing art for a while, the industry made a shift to stock imagery, mostly as a cost-cutting motivation. So I kind of floundered around for a while thinking I’d missed my chance when a small publisher found me in a yahoo group and asked if I’d be interested in illustrating children’s books. That’s how I broke into the book business. Eventually, I drew enough attention to start landing over projects in various genres. As with all things, tastes change. It seems a lot of authors miss the days of original artwork on book covers. Many are not willing to settle for using a stock image than could be on their book today and used in a shoe catalogue the next day. Good thing, too, since I didn’t study to be an accountant, lol. Oh, and why digital … I saw another shift starting in the industry. The video game generation was starting to grow up and write books. My son doesn’t recognise a world without smartphones and computers. So, I learned to transfer my traditional art education to the digital medium. I also thought it would save me money on endless art supplies, but I was naive, lol. Software and hardware are just as expensive, but I can’t imagine doing anything else. I’ve also found my need for control of proportion and scale and medium is satisfied better with the digital techniques.  

4. What is your process, how do you come up with the idea for the cover?

The author … I like to interview the author about their book and characters and the world they’ve created. In today’s dialog-driven literature, details I need for a good scene and representation of the book as a whole doesn’t make it onto the page. Editing could remove details or they never left the author’s inner-eye. Either way, who knows the story better than the author? Of course, although many of us over artists originally have dreams of being discovered by a big publisher, once I got into the industry, I learned there is a big disconnect between the author and cover artist. Most authors have absolutely no say about their cover. So I tend to linger in the small-publisher and indie worlds so I can maintain that connection. 

5. Which genre do you most enjoy creating for?

Although my first love is sci-fi and fantasy, I realized I enjoy working with most mediums. I find the variety helps keep me from getting bored … fewer artistic blocks. 

6. Is there anything that you would like your business to expand into?

I’ve started dabbling with music/album/CD covers. I’ve done a couple and hope to do more. But I don’t know much about that industry, so I’m going slow.

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