As the new BCOTM bracket is running, I had the chance to correspond with Lisa Pompilio, the winner of February’s bracket. You can see other interviews from December’s winner and January’s Winner if you like.
Hello Lisa! Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions.
First off congratulations on your cover wining my blog’s February Book Cover of the Month.
Thank you so much. There were so many great covers by talented artists. I’m very honored.
When did you get into art?
I’ve been drawing since I was a kid. In my teens I got into photography, collage and punk rock, which ultimately led to an interest in graphic design and photo illustration. I would make zines of my favorite bands and take photos at shows. A lot of cut and paste art, I just never connected it to being a desinger. But for 17 years, I was also heavily involved in training horses. Then in my 20s, I had a bad fall and realized it might be time to consider a career that didn’t involve broken bones (or at least pay for the broken bones since I am still riding). So I turned to art, and now paper cuts are the biggest job hazard I have to risk.
How long have you been creating covers?
It’s been almost 10 years now. I started at St. Martin’s Press and now I’m with Orbit Books.
What got you started in creating covers?
I’ve always been a book lover. I used to spend hours in the library as a kid – reading was a way to escape into another world, and everything I took in – the book covers, the stories, the characters – inspired my art.
Do you prefer one medium over another?
Above all, I’m a photo illustrator. But I let the book dictate the medium – some call for photo illustration, sometimes I hire an illustrator, sometimes there’s a need for type design.
Do you have someone who inspired your own work? If so, who? Why?
I draw from multiple influences when I’m working on a cover. I think a cover designer should be open and well-rounded, and know their art history. I’m deeply shaped by circus sideshow culture – growing up near Coney Island will do that to you. Tim Burton always sparks something in me, but so do Frida Kahlo and Carlo Crivilli – it’s really a mash-up of artists and styles and history.
What makes you choose to work with an author or not?
I’ve worked with all different kinds of authors. I base my decision on the project – if it sounds fun, I’m game to take it on.
What do you look for in a great client?
Trust. A client who trusts I will create an amazing cover for them and lets me just work my magic.
What are some of your pet peeves about clients?
I’m sure I have an official list somewhere…. One of the biggest pet peeves of any designer I know is when you send a comp, and someone takes it, just photoshops over it, and sends it back. That’s just a big no. But as a designer, or any kind of artist, you have to patient and expect criticism, even if the criticism is completely unjustified and drives you a little crazy. You have to remember it’s not just your baby, and that everyone wants what’s best for the book.
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?
All they have to do is contact me. I’m always open to freelance work alongside my in-house creations. I do have a standard rate, but I’ll negotiate with self-published authors and do what I can to work within their budget.
How did you come to be chosen to create the cover for The Unleashed?
Bentz and Jennifer had seen my work for Amada Hocking’s Trylle Trilogy and contacted me for the first book in the series, The UnDelightened. I was thrilled when they contacted me again to continue working on the series.
Artistically, what were your goals for the cover?
I really wanted the reader to feel like they were stepping into a world that was both magical and a little dark at the same time.
Can you walk me through how you approached the cover? I mean, can you take me from you were commissioned to the final product? What were some of the challenges? What techniques did you use? How much did you collaborate with Bents? How happy were you with the final product? Anything you can think of in that regard.
The first book gave me some direction, but I wanted this one to feel a little darker – I wanted the magic to kind of bleed out of the frame – I wanted it more twisted and confused than on the first book. Bentz gave me some details to play with, like the creepy fog, and he had some ideas about how it should look and which character we’d use, and we basically just hit the nail on the head together.
It’s always a little challenging to do a series. You want the covers to be cohesive, but also stand out on their own. Color was a big factor, but it was important for me that readers got the feeling they were moving through the series and growing with it. As for technique, Photoshop played a big role.
I’m very happy with the final product. It does everything I wanted it to do, and now I have to step up my game for the next installment!
How was Bentz to work with?
He was terrible! I’m just kidding of course – it was great. Bentz really gave me a lot of freedom and put his trust in me. When we did The Undelightened, he gave me the manuscript and some samples of covers and images he felt drawn to, then let me loose. It means a lot to me that he trusts me, and it’s really been a delight to work with him.
The Unleashed was an awesome image. Is it your favorite? If so, why?
That’s like asking a parent which kid is their favorite! I can’t go down that rabbit hole and have angry authors writing to say, “I thought I was your favorite!” For my own safety, I am going to plead the 5th.
What can we expect to see from you next?
I’m currently working on a lot of sci-fi and fantasy, YA, and even some military covers. I’m also working on Book 2 for Melissa Caruso, and I’ve just revealed the first in the series The Tethered Mage. I’ve got a few other surprises that I can’t share yet – but stay tuned.
Is there anything you’d like to say to readers?
I’d just like to say thank you, on behalf of all of us cover designers, for appreciating this art form. Your love really motivates us and inspires the awesome imagery we all enjoy.
I don’t think the bracket is perfect, and I don’t think it can be. But when I started this, it was with the intention of brining attention to great covers and giving the designers some credit. I think we’re accomplishing that. I’m thrilled to talk to every artist, and I plan on pestering the authors next! Thank you all for making this a success. Here’s to keeping it growing!
Thanks for reading,