My pleasure, you honor me with your interview! My art career has a fuzzy start, but I would say that a major milestone was joining the FB group Grimdark Fiction Readers and Writers and posting my fan art. That got the attention of a few indie authors. I also did a free cover as promo, which helped some more.
How long have you been designing covers?
I’ve been illustrating covers for about 2 or 3 years. I haven’t really designed typography for any except yours.
What would be the height of career achievement for you?
At this point, just being able to pay the rent doing just fantasy illustration. When that happens, I would love to mix this up with game design of some sort.
Who are some of the artists you were/are inspired by?
This is always a very hard question. There’s the giant giants like Frazetta and Paul Bonner. Then there’s the giants like Bisley, Jaime Jones, Richard Anderson, Stephane Martiniere, Simon Goinard, and like a thousand others.
Do you have a favorite genre of story to illustrate (he asked, suspecting the answer is fantasy)?
Fantasy, ha! But I used to love drawing mechs. The only reason I focus on fantasy is that it comes naturally to me and earns me money. But i’ve been itching to do some space/sci-ﬁ related stuﬀ.
Do you have an all-time favorite cover that you’ve done and can share?
I did say the one I did for Jeramy Goble, Eulogy for the Dawn, because it got me the most likes I believe. It also has a dragon!
Do you dabble or outright devote yourself to other media or types of artistic expression? Like, are into sculpture? Landscapes in oil or watercolor? Macramé? (Kidding)
Not at the moment. But my wife says I could’ve been a dancer. I’ll take it.
What’s the most-common mistake authors make in choosing a cover design and/or artist?
In my experience, trying to cram too much detail into the brief. The cover itself can be complex, but I did rather have more ﬂexibility when it comes to painting or art directing.
Is there anything that doesn’t belong on a cover?
Spoilers? Maybe too much gore.
Are there trends in book cover design, and, if so, where are we now and where do you see us going in the next few years?
Theme wise, I see a lot of authors like their heroes to be looking away, sometimes at an enemy. In terms of technique there’s more acceptance for the use of photography or 3d, and I think this is where the future lies. But illustration will never go away, not for a long time. There’s something about brush strokes (traditional or digital) that is very hard to replace.
As you know, Da Vinci spent a good amount of time studying human anatomy. Has that been part of your process as well?
Yup! I started doing D&D characters, so that was certainly a huge part of my learning.
What is the hardest body part to illustrate?
Hands and feet for me (and many others I think)
Have you considered writing your own book/series?
It’s a fantasy, but I don’t think I’m good enough. What I would love to do is design an RPG and run a game some day.
Do you do a lot of reading in the fantasy genre and, if so, who are some of your favorite authors, or what are some of your favorite books?
Yes! I discovered not long ago that I love dark humor in fantasy. Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames is a big favorite. All the books by Rob Hayes are awesome. The Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz is another.
A lot of people compare the first book in my series, Steel, Blood & Fire to Eames. I’m constantly having to point out my book was first – by several years!
If you could design for any author living or dead, who would you choose? Tolkien
What the fuck is burnt umber?
According to google, reddish brown.
You have at least one child. Is your hope that child will follow his/her passion or would you discourage a career in the arts as a terrible struggle? (Asking as a lifelong actor…)
I would support her all the way. There’s a living to be made in the (commercial) arts. I had no mentoring or vision till my 40s. If I”m able to do it now, she certainly would, too, with proper direction.
This would be a great time to pontiﬁcate about the state of arts education and the way in which it is valued (or not) in our society and particularly by our government…you know, if you wanna.
I’m no expert, but I think the USA is showing the signs of a crumbling empire, or at least crumbling culture. The ﬁrst thing to go is the arts. Be that as it may, we still have the internet! For the what I do, college is great but not necessary. With proper motivation you could learn all you need online.
Cezanne, Monet, Van Gogh, Serat, or Gaugin? Why?
Monet. Though I appreciate the other artists, I prefer the more ﬁgurative styles.
Picasso, Munch, Warhol or M.C. Escher?
Escher, for the same reasons. I’ve never been a huge fan of abstraction.
Da Vinci, Michelangelo, or Botticelli?
Michelangelo. His stuﬀ looks more epic, in my opinion.
Sergio Aragones, R. Crumb, B. Kliban or Gary Larson?
Larson? These other guys I don’t know.
Do you know who John Buscema was? If so, what was his best work?
I know he is comic book artist, but I’m not a huge collector of comics, especially not of that classic style. I prefer stuﬀ like Bisley, if any.
I know: you weren’t expecting a quiz. Just having fun with you. What’s next for you? What’s coming up that excites you?
Ha! I did have to google of a couple of those guys. My art class memory is fuzzy. Recently Tor approached me to do a 2nd cover for a series by Brian Anderson. This is my ﬁrst big client and so far it’s going great. I consider myself very, very lucky.
Thank you so very much for agreeing to do this. Full disclosure to my readers, Felix has designed the cover for Book Five, which you’ll all be seeing soon. I couldn’t be happier!
My pleasure! Wish I could’ve done the previous 4!
Well, if I ever get the bank, you’ve certainly got the job!
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