The Question People Always Ask Me At Open Studios

 My Studio Wall. Studio #320, Whiting Mills in Winsted CT

My Studio Wall. Studio #320, Whiting Mills in Winsted CT

While this Blog is meant to serve as a “virtual” open studio, on June 11th & 12th we held our “Actual” Spring Open Studios Event at Whiting Mills. Over 600 people attended and I enjoyed seeing many new faces, as well as old friends who stopped by to say hello and share their support. I have participated in numerous Open Studio Events over the years and I am always asked the same question:

How did I become a book cover artist?

So let me take this opportunity explain…starting with the time that I was an Illustration major at RISD. Back to the day when my life changed forever….

 I was taking a photography course during my senior year, just to appease my mother who kept bugging me about learning photography before I graduated. On this particular day a guest photographer came to our class to demonstrate a variety of alternative photo printing techniques. One such process was a cyanotype method, which involved applying the light sensitive chemicals to watercolor paper and exposing it (along with the large sized negative) to ultra-violet light (aka, the sun). I watched in amazement as a blue photographic image emerged from the watercolor paper when washed in water. She demonstrated a more modern alternative process as well, with something called “Liquid Light” (which I see is still sold at B&H Photo). I found the results of this process to be nothing short of magical. Liquid Light is light sensitive and must be used in the dark room. She spread the thick white liquid onto fine art paper with a brush and then processed in the same way as regular photo paper. The difference was, that with liquid light, the image came out looking like a sketch, due to the brush strokes and the textured paper. Keep in mind, this was well before Photoshop, Instagram and digital photo filters that can create this effect with a simple click of a button.

To say I was excited about the demonstrations that day would be a vast understatement! I immediately abandoned my senior project of mixed media in favor of alternative photography. With only 6 weeks left until graduation, I was strongly urged to reconsider. But I assured my teachers that this is what I wanted to do. HAD TO DO! I had found an art medium I was passionate about, and nobody was going to stop me from pursuing it.

 A few different types of Alternative Photo Prints: Bottom Prints are cyanotypes. Top from Left to Right: Palladium, Platinum & Liquid Light

A few different types of Alternative Photo Prints: Bottom Prints are cyanotypes. Top from Left to Right: Palladium, Platinum & Liquid Light

I knew I was going to have to figure out a way to make a living after graduation and I decided that my work would be perfect for book covers. Book publishers needed interesting images for their jackets and my photo-illustrations were the perfect blending of the reality of photography with the unreality of drawing and painting. The final image was a combination of real and unreal, much like a good story.

 

 Some of my early book cover images. Left to right: Early Photoshop Image, Cyanotype & Liquid Light

Some of my early book cover images. Left to right: Early Photoshop Image, Cyanotype & Liquid Light

I knew that the publishers needed my work, but unfortunately they didn’t know it! After years of hard work and persistence I started slowly began to receive book cover assignments and eventually was able to make a decent living as a photo-illustrator working for publishers in New York. I have been creating book cover images for quite some time now and I feel very fortunate to say that my photo-illustrations have graced the covers of books written by many best-selling authors, such as John Grisham, James Patterson, Mary Higgins Clark and Debbie Macomber, just to name a few.  (www.lillimages.com)

 

I would love to share some of the behind-the-scenes details of my book cover projects with you, so stay tuned….

 A few book cover projects I have worked on.

A few book cover projects I have worked on.