Going UnderCOVER with Cover Artist Kanaxa

Yesterday we heard a little about the musical influences in Moira Rogers’ newest Bloodhounds release, ARCHER’S LADY. Today, we’re lucky to have a bit of “undercover” info from the cover artist for the series, Kanaxa.

1) You’re an established author in the sci-fi genre (as Nathalie Gray), as well as a cover artist. Did you intend to be involved in both aspects of the publication world? How did you go from one to the other? Do you design your own book covers?

I have always enjoyed reading comics, and I think that’s why I process stories visually. I’m one of those who will pick up a book for its cover. I may not buy it, but a good or intriguing cover will stop me and in the end, that’s what covers are for.

After a few years in the publishing industry, my interest in the art process only grew, especially after having my eyeballs burned by some of the more, hmm, underwhelming science fiction romance covers out there, if you know what I mean and I think you do.

I kept bitching about how we needed some SFR covers that kicked butt, that had rivets on them, that portrayed women in strong, assertive roles (with lots of cool scifi guns, if possible). Almost as a bet with myself, I tried making one, thinking, I can do that shit, man. Oh boy. No one will ever see the aberration, but it did hook me. I couldn’t put my graphic pen down! Red Sage Publishing were the first to buy my covers, followed by Samhain Publishing, for whom I have created over 100 works (and still do).

2) Can you describe a bit of your process, from conception to finished product?

**If you have, and are willing to share, a few images of the process… sketch, photo, beginning paint, photoshop work, end product… that would be fantastic. All could be watermarked if you like.**

I like to think I have a process, but I don’t, not really. I will walk into a light post because I saw something shiny on the ground. That’s the kind of methodical and organized person I am.

When I receive a cover art form, I go get myself tea then read every word of it before going for a quick visit on the author’s website to see what sort of taste he/she has. A website says a lot about a person. So when I think I have a good idea of taste, I start the hunt for good images or details. Sometimes a cover will take me 3-4 hours to create, and others will take 40+ hours. It all depends if I hit a vein right away or if I have to poke around (that sounded gross, but it’s the closest analogy I could find).

For your viewing pleasure, I have included a mock up (it took me a whole 15 minutes to make so please don’t just judge my work from this!)

  • 1. The Black Square of Doom (that’s when I stare at the screen a lot)
  • 2. Ah, here we have a nice bit of scifi sky. Looks nice. I’ll keep it.
  • 3. Hmmm, what about if I merged this image and that image.
  • 4. And for the yummy man.
  • 5. Drawing some nice light effect. A scifi cover needs some light effects, yo!
  • 6. Some type, play a bit with that. Bam, a cover!

3) Many authors use music to help get them in the mood for a certain storyline or character. Do you listen to music while you work? Do you have specific songs/bands that help set the mood for any particular series or characters you design?

I don’t use music for inspiration, surprisingly. I love music, but not when I’m working. Probably because I have the attention span of a Chihuahua.

4) How much input do you need about the book to design the cover? Have you ever started a project, then partway through had to change direction or rework parts based on info from the marketing people or the author?

I had it all: changed direction midway, redid entire drafts when it didn’t work for author/editor/management or spent 8 hours obsessing over a particular font only to change my mind and use another. I’m my own worst critic; if I finish a draft, stand back for a look and find that it doesn’t work, I drag it into the sandbox for future use and/or cannibalism. No mercy, man. A cover HAS to work. We get one shot to catch the reader’s attention!

5) You’ve mentioned on your site, and in other interviews, your plans for world domination. Are there aspects of either of your chosen crafts that you feel will help you on your mission?

I’m not at liberty to discuss my plans for world domination but I will share this: there will be silver gogo boots and heat ray guns involved. And that’s all I can say… 😉

6) What is your favorite part of cover art illustration? What is your least favorite part?

What makes my inner Chihuahua chase her tail with savage glee is when I see a positive Twitter storm or happy authors blogging/chatting about a cover I did for them. Conversely, a heart-breaker is when an author trashes his/her cover and invites others to do so. I know I can’t please them all, but I always, always try my damnedest to make authors proud of their cover.

Oh, another thing I dislike about the art process: fonts. Fonts. Are. The. Devil. I’m telling you, they are! I can spend 10 hours working on a cover and 8 hours just fiddling with the damn text. My Achilles’ heel. Good thing my art director is awesome with that and saves my (Canadian) bacon.

7) What’s your next cover related project (if you can tell)? Can you share any sneak peeks?

I can’t share any sneak peek because I want “my” authors to be the first ones to see their drafts (writing can be such an ingrate job that every bit of positive energy has to be cherished jealously). But I can tell you about my current project. It’s a paranormal romance that just demands some dark, menacing, anti-hero in an action pose. As soon as I’m done fixating on his belt buckle, I’ll be ready to show it to the author and bite my nails until I hear back from her. Waiting is very much like toenail-pulling!

Thanks for sharing your space with me. For those who have questions, I’d be thrilled to answer them. Fire away!

Alrighty… you heard the lady… if you have any questions about the cover design for ARCHER’S LADY, ask away!! Comments on this post, and on yesterday’s music post from Moira Rogers (Donna) will be included in the drawing for a free ecopy of either ARCHER’S LADY (Bloodhounds, #3), or if you haven’t started reading them yet, WILDER’S MOON (Bloodhounds, #1). Good Luck, everyone!!

3 Comments

  1. Comment by bn100:

    Nice covers. How long did it take to design the Archer’s Lady cover?

    bn100candg(at)hotmail(dot)com

  2. Comment by Nathalie Gray (@NathalieGray):

    Hi,

    Thank you. This one took me a good 30+ hours because I became obsessed with the flying embers around him. There was never enough. Plus, his hat. Took me a looooong time to ruin and shred 🙂

  3. Comment by David:

    The only thing I could come up with was Virocalypse. But, I don’t know if it rolls off the tongue. Plus, I fell like it’s not demon-y enugoh. I am looking forward to reading Demon Bait and Hammer Down! Thanks for the giveaway! jepebATverizonDOTnet

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