Hello 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.
Without further delay, let’s get right to it!
Hello Gabriel! I just wanted to say congrats one more time!
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?
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.
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.
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.
Can 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,
It’s that time again folks. I’m flying on a plan back to the place of residence, so my laziness combined with the fact that I actually sort of skipped an update lead me to post one now.
Usually with four days left, we’d be doing the final four, so I’ll update you on how that’s going. But first, this announcement:
I’m happy to report we’ve shattered the record for most votes in a bracket. We’re currently at 5,524 votes. I thank you all for your participation, and hope you’ll continue to support the Book Cover of the Month each time it kicks off.
Let’s get down to business.
As it stands right now, your final four are:
Dawn of War by Robbie MacNiven,
The Lost Travencal by C.M. Jobe,
The Other One by Amanda Jay, and
Fate of the Big Bad Wolf by Neo Edmund.
The current top dog in terms of total votes is Dawn of War with a massive 528 votes.
The lowest vote-earner is The Empire’s Ghost by Isabella Steiger.
That being said, what matters most is that Dawn of War is in the lead because it won 72 total brackets, so you don’t need 500 votes. You just need 73 more supporters to choose the next four days to vote!
If the tournament stays this way, The Lost Travencal and The Other One would receive auto-bids into the June Book Cover of the Month, but Fate and The Acquisition of Swords by X can leap right over them if they can get their following to support them for one final push, but that’s true of all 32 books. Anyone of these covers can have a final big day and steal the title for the month.
All you need to do is head over this website and vote!
Thanks for reading,
Usually about this time (three days) would be when the Sweet 16 begins. While we’re not doing a round-by-round bracket, I still think this is a nice time to update everyone on how things are shaking out so far.
First, another explanation on how this structure works. Brackify says, “Rank results are calculated by how far an entry advances in the bracket based on match results, not total vote count.”
What’s that mean? Well, You can have a million votes, but they do you no good if you only get them in one round. What matters is how many voters vote for a certain cover to move on.
What I like about this format: This structure really does make it easy on voters. One vote and done. Also, we’re getting close to breaking the all-time voting record after less than three days. That’s wonderful! The best thing about this format is that no one is ever out of it until the very end.
What I don’t like about this format: It’s possible for a book that lost a round to still win the bracket. Let me try to explain. Say Book 1 lost to Book 2 in the first round. However, if more voters selected Book 1 to go to the finals, Book 1 would actually move on unless Book 2 had a more dominant win in the first round. I’ve actually been monitoring that situation in this bracket. Tangled Echoes has a solid number of finalist votes, but it wasn’t until City of Miracles finally managed to over take it that Echoes fell from #1 all the way to #18 (as things stand as I type this).
Echoes doesn’t need a bunch of first round votes (though at this stage that would do the trick), it actually only needs one or two people to vote it back to the finals. I’m not sure what I think about a book being able to advance when it didn’t win a round. In this format, what matters is how far a book goes per bracket, not how many votes it gets. In my opinion, round-by-round is more demanding on participants, but way easier to understand. Please don’t misunderstand, I like all these covers. That’s why I featured them on this blog. If Echoes beat five other covers to win the day, then I’d have no problem with that. My problem would be if someone one the bracket after losing a round. To put your mind at ease, I’ve checked, and the current Sweet 16 all on their first round. So the current covers would have moved on in the original format. What are your thoughts?
Now that we’ve explained the process, let’s look at how things stand after three full days of voting.
The current top four are:
Dawn of War by Robbie MacNiven, The Lost Travencal by C.M. Jobe, The Other One by Amanda Jay, and Fate of the Big Bad Wolf by Neo Edmund.
The next four contenders are:
Reaper Reborn by Bryan Davis, The Acquisition of Swords by Timothy Ray, and City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett.
As you saw above, MacNiven’s Dawn of War is currently in the lead.
Top Vote Earner:
It’s important to know that this bracket was never a popular vote. The top vote earner for each round always moved on, but there have been plenty of times one cover received a ton of votes in one round, but fell short in the following round. Winning a round still means more than getting more votes. That said, it’s still cool to know who’s getting support.
The top vote earner so far is The Other One by .
Least voted on cover:
We have a tie in this regard. They are: The Wizard Killer Season Two by Adam Dreece and Immortals by . They each have 79 total votes, but they haven’t gotten enough votes to get them out of that first round.
There’s still 10 days left to show your support for your favorite cover. If you’ve already voted, but your favorite isn’t winning, please feel free to share the bracket on your respective social media platforms. The more people who vote, the better.
Vote by clicking this link.
Thanks for reading,
I’m home on vacation, which for me means I get to spend way more time on writing. I was making good progress on Sojourn in Captivity already, and now I’m happy to report the fourth (of five) draft is done! I want to take another moment to thank my beta readers. Your feedback helped make this a much stronger story, and I was pleased with it before I sent it out. Now it’s back to the editor for the copy-editing pass. The story is what it is, now we’re making sure the writing is as strong as it can be. That’ll be the last draft before I add a bit of information (a forward) to it and send it off to the Slush Brain’s honorable captain.
This also gives me a chance to put out a few other updates.
First, I’m happy to announce I did manage to get another event lined up. I went to Shore Leave a few years back, and I confirmed a few months ago that I’m heading that way again.
Speaking of conventions, at last year’s AwesomeCon, I had the chance to talk about the pitfalls of self publishing. I’ll be doing that panel again. This one is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Friday, June 16. It was a fun panel to do last year, and I have more information this year.
Sojourn isn’t the only project I’ve sent to my editor. I’ve re-designed The Journals of Bob Drifter, and I sent that PDF her way for a quick proofread before I re-release that. I would have loved for that book to be re-released before AwesomeCon, but it’s not not logistically possible. Still, it will be re-released this year, and doing so will allow me a lot more freedom with that title (not to mention a lower (I’m not sure how much) cover price).
Now that I’m not bring so much mental energy on Sojourn, I can turn my attention back to Images of Truth the actual first complete novel in the Perception of War saga. (Sojourn is simply a prequel novella.)
I want to finish Images of Truth (I was halfway done when I switched gears for Sojourn) before I put my full attention on the Oneiros log. I’ve started (and even nearly finished) an outline for a novella featuring Kaitlyn. Then it’s full steam ahead on the rest of the trilogy.
I’m a guy who needs something to look at when his eyes start to cross, so I’ll be working on a draft of 1,200 (another project that should be coming your way in the not too distant future). It’s still my ambitious hope to dedicate the rest of 2017 and all of 2018 to writing and conventions and then release a minimum of six projects in 2019. That would be three Oneiros books, 1,200, and a few from a new series I plan to start. I have a bunch of other drafts too, but those projects are much larger. My hope is this new series will keep good product from a common universe coming, which will then give me more time to finish those larger products (New Utopia and Perception of War) the way they’re meant to be finished.
I want to thank all of you who read my blog (and of course my books)! Your support really means the world to me. I’m putting a lot into 2019, hoping that will be “my year” more or less. Your support always makes it easier to sit down with the lap top.
Thanks for reading,
I came home from work yesterday to a wonderful surprise. I have a new 5-Star review for Caught on Goodreads. I’m always grateful for reviews of any type. Feedback is how authors get better. That said, when those reviews are positive and with a bunch of starts, well, that makes my day! Check out the review here to see what one reader thought of the new book!
Character: I’ve spoken about sympathy a few times, and I always made it a point to mention there is a distinction between sympathy and likability. Tyrion, and most of this cast, are horrible. The only thing more horrid than their actions is what was done to place them in this path. I had an advantage here that I don’t think other readers had. I read this book first. Now I’m eagerly reading the first book in the series simply to find out how Tyrion came to be the way he is and act the way he acts. He’s a brilliant character with devastating flaws that are all born of circumstances he couldn’t control. Readers will rip through the pages to find out if he can at least control himself.
Description: I’m pretty forgiving with description. If anyone argued that it was a bit hard to see some of the characters, I probably wouldn’t punch him, but the placement of the descriptive phrases allows my imagination to take over, which is preferable to me than painting a scene with words.
Thanks for reading,