Time and creativity are more precious than money. So hoping that people buy your book is one thing (did you know you can pre-order GILDED CAGE, heh). But hoping that someone might feel inspired by your characters and world to give up their time and use their talent to create art feels a much bigger ask.
Yet I’ve been lucky enough recently to see not only preliminary sketches for what promises to be an amazing painting of Silyen (more on that in another post), but to have these two beautiful covers designed by the talented Stef Saw. I was so blown away that I wanted to know more about the designer and the ideas behind them, so I asked Stef a few questions.
Q: Tell me a bit more about yourself
A: I’m born and raised in Malaysia. I’m a university English major, and freelance graphic designing. I love reading anything Fantasy – it’s hands down the best genre ever! And I write, too. Right now I’m focusing on editing my high Fantasy novel HALL OF GAMES before I query it.
Q: How did you get into cover designing, and would you like to make it your career?
A: I got into cover designing through an online writing website called Wattpad. I make them for anyone who commissions me. My forté is fantasy-themed artwork, especially dark and epic ones. My greatest accomplishment was when bestselling author Donna Grant asked me to design some banners for her! I would LOVE to work in publishing one day. It’s my ultimate goal as a graphic designer.
Q: Tell me about your creative process
A: It’s important for the cover to tell the story from a single glance. Sometimes I design more than three covers for a single story, just to see which one correspond the most. I’m inspired by anything: other covers, magazines, paintings … there’s no end to where inspiration can come from! For designing, I use Photoshop cs6, Adobe Illustrator cs6, Blender and my trusty Wacom Intuos Pro tablet.
Q: So how did you come up with these two gorgeous covers!
A: I went for two different approaches: an object-based cover, and a vector-based cover. For the one with the key, I drew on my reading of an early draft. People are forced by the government to slave for 10 years, so I used a key to represent their desire for freedom – not to mention that keys and gates are fundamental to the world-building. The cogs and gears represent the arduous work endured by the people doing their slavedays. For the second one, the title, GILDED CAGE, says it all. A cage, no matter how beautiful, is still a cage. The raven represents a dark secret and an inner desire to be set free. I didn’t add more details, as I thought a simple cover would do the trick!
I was thrilled by Stef’s gorgeous covers! And I look forward to sharing more incredible fanart with you, as talented people out there create it.