Many publishers will try out a talented new illustrator by commissioning a jacket for an existing classic.
It’s an excellent way to give such an artist’s work exposure in book stores. It’s also an opportunity to establish a working relationship with a publisher.
As for the artist, it’s a one-shot deal; in other words, you complete one piece, and you’re done! With a picture book, the process is on-going for several months. It can seem endless.
Hugh D’Andrade got the assignment of a lifetime: The opportunity to create the cover of a special leather-bound edition of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird. What distinguished this project was having access to the author herself. Wow. . . .
Hugh describes the experience on his blog:
“…I have loved this book since I first read it in the 7th or 8th grade. . . Re-reading it a few years ago, I remembered how this book made me feel transported to another time and place, and how it helped me grapple with really difficult questions about morality and injustice. It’s a powerful story, told with such simple, elegant language…
. . . As with most book covers, this one took a lot of back and forth between myself and the publisher. We had to get all those little details right, from Scout’s ponytail, to the type, to the Southern courthouse featured on the back cover.
The biggest surprise in this process was the fact that Harper Lee herself was involved! Yes, she is alive, and though she is careful to stay out of the public eye, she collaborated with Sterling Publishers (a publishing imprint of Barnes & Noble) on this edition, to the degree that she looked over my sketches and gave surprisingly detailed notes.
As you might suspect, they were sharp and insightful, with suggestions on how to ensure that Scout looked as if she were actually tipping up on her toes to view the gifts hidden in the knot of that old tree. . . “
A previous assignment Hugh did for Barnes & Noble was a new edition of Alice in Wonderland.
Another recent project was the jacket and interior chapter openers for A Tale Dark and Grimm, by Adam Gidwitz, a New York Times bestseller.
Note the previous working title — it changed since then. . . .
“… the really cool thing is what we did with the wraparound dust jacket for the hardcover (see above). This sort of thing is tricky, because it has to work as a whole, but each panel has to work independently as well…”
Here is the book trailer that evolved from Hugh’s iconic graphics:
See more of Hugh’s amazing work at his blog.