May_Cover_CollagelrHello everyone! It’s actually been an incredibly busy few weeks. I’m happy to say I’ve been eager to post this interview I had with Gabriel Rodriguez. As most of you know, I’ve been interview each month’s winners.  Click on each month to see those interviews. December. January. February. I wasn’t able to reach the artist for March, but here’s the announcement for it.

I am happy to have an interview for you today from the man who designed Singular,  April’s winner.

Without further delay, let’s get right to it!

Hello Gabriel! I just wanted to say congrats one more time!

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Image of Gabe provided by him and used with his permission.

First off, do you have a website? Would you be willing to allow me to post 3 or 4 of your favorite projects? If so, please attache JPGs to your reply.  Do you have an image of yourself or a logo I may use?  If so, please attach that as well.

My name is Gabe Rodriguez. I’m a creative handyman living in Seattle with my beautiful wife and three rad kids. You can see more of my work at http://radriguezinc.com/

When did you get in to art? 

I gained more of an appreciation for art after I married an artist. At the time we married she was studying art in college and she helped open my eyes to museums, the theatre, we even sat in the nose-bleed seats watching an Opera performance. To this day (almost 14 years later) we still love going to museums and are very much inspired by the art of others.

How long have you been creating covers?

Believe it or not, Singular is actually my first book cover design.

What got you started in creating covers?

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The cover to April’s winning cover provided for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine. 

Designing book covers has been a long time coming. I spent over 10 years as a freelance photographer. It was only in the last two years that I started to focus on design. I was fortunate to work with a good friend and talented designer who brought me under his wing and taught me a lot about design.

One of the ways I learned design was studying book covers with him. He encouraged me to keep a file of screenshots and iPhone pics of inspiring covers. So when I was approached by Zack to design the cover for Singular it was fun to go to my inspiration files and study what others have done and fuse that with the story and meaning behind the book.

Do you prefer one medium over another?

I still love photography and I think in pictures a lot. I’m very much intrigued by digital illustration. It keeps me up at night. Either working on drawings of my own or going down rabbit trails of various artist portfolios and Instagram feeds.

Do you have someone who inspired your own work? If so, who? Why?

I love the creativity of folks like Brad Montague (Montague Workshop) whose work makes me feel that art and creativity can change the world.

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A book cover by Peter Mendelsund posted for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

In terms of book covers, I’m a big fan of Peter Mendelsund and Daniel Gray. I’m in awe of their seemingly effortless designs that pique interest, convey meaning, and make you think.

In illustration I love the work of Don & Ryan Clark of Invisible Creature and artist Jean Jullien. They create characters and build worlds that blow my mind. In a similar way I’m inspired by authors like Zack in their ability to create a world of their own.

What makes you choose to work with an author or not?  What do you look for in a great client? 

I haven’t had to make this choice with authors yet, but in photography and design it usually comes down to looking for clients that are passionate about their work, can bring some good ideas to the table, and then trust me to execute a concept that will serve them well. Obviously it would be amazing if every project had an endless budget and a deadline that would allow for research and experimentation. But in the end, creatives love to create. Let us do that for you and we’ll love you.

What are some of your pet peeves about clients?

I’m a pretty easy going guy so not a lot comes to mind. I don’t love having to educate clients on importance and realistic costs of particular things, but I feel it’s an important part of the job. If I could pass anything on, it would be to value the work of others in the same way you want others to value your work.

What would an author need to do to work with you? Do you have a link to your standard rates, or do you negotiate fees by author?

Being relatively new to (book cover) design, I don’t have a standard rates page. I’d love to work with talented authors both new and old. The only requirement for me is passion and ideas, I can take it from there. I understand that there are a range of budgets and projects so rates depend on complexity and vary from project to project.

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Image of Zack Hubert taken from his Amazon page for review and promotion purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

How did you come to be chosen to create the cover for Singular?

I’d like to say it was destiny because that sounds more romantic but in actuality Zack is long time friend of mine. He’s been a supporter of my work in the past and I appreciate that he took a flyer hiring me to design his book cover as it was my first one. I’d also like to think that we’re just getting started together and that this is the first of many.

Artistically, what were your goals for the cover?

We wanted something that would catch your eye and draw you in as well as a design that had some meaning and gave insight into what the book is about. The cover needs to help sell the book but also compliment the story.

How was Zack to work with?

Zack was great to work with. He brought a lot of good ideas to the table and was able to point me in the direction of art and covers that have inspired him.

Singular was such a clean, simple concept.  What inspired the idea?

I visited a lot of used book stores looking at old covers and artwork to pull ideas from. Zack also gathered a collection of book covers he liked and we those served as a mood board. I tend towards clean design so I think I was looking for a clean design solution from the start.

APRIL_Cover_Collage FinalCan you walk me through the whole process of that cover? From commissioning to final product? How did you feel about it once it was finished?

Zack asked me about designing the cover as he was nearing the completion of writing the book and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to sit with the story for about two weeks before starting in on the design. I started with a handful of loose design concepts. The concepts varied in style but all paid homage to the book and tried to go beyond clever idea or just looking good and convey some sort of meaning as to the themes of the book. It was nice to work with a great story that had solid themes I could work into the cover design.

We agreed on a concept that would work well and then I got to work on giving it a spit shine in Photoshop. The final design ended up combining a few elements from other concepts which we both really liked. Along the way Zack had great feedback of what he liked and I was up front with my opinions as well. We worked great together to produce a final cover that I’m very proud of.

Is it your favorite cover? If so, why?

This is definitely my favorite book cover. But I’m optimistic that my next cover will be just as good! 🙂

What can we expect to see from you next?

Currently I’m working on writing and illustrating a short story book about a fat chicken. I’m excited to share it with the world soon.

Is there anything you’d like to say to readers?

I’m very inspired by authors like Zack biting off a huge project like writing a book. The discipline to sit down everyday in the face of resistance is amazing. I would add a bit of encouragement to your readers. If you are interested in design or writing books (or something equally as cool), sit your butt in a chair and do it! A little everyday. It’s something I’m trying to live out in my creative endeavors. Cheers!

Once more Gabriel, I just want to thank you for spending time to do this interview. You’re an amazing designer, and I, for one, am glad I’ve gotten to know you.  

For all you out there in the blog land, thanks for another great month of voting! The June BCOTM tournament is pretty much set up and will kick off July 1!

Thank you for reading,

Matt

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