WillowRaven, Founder of WillowRaven Illustration & Design Plu
An Artist’s Impression with Aidana WillowRaven
WillowRaven, Founder of WillowRaven Illustration & Design Plus, has created many pieces of stunning artwork for book covers. Her style of is mainly futuristic and fantasy and this week she is here to talk about her work and how she got started as a 3D artist.
Where do you draw inspiration for your art work?
The commissioned work comes from the books.
My personal work comes from a place I have yet to be able to pinpoint. I get a flash of something in my head, or see something, or hear something, and it just grows from there. I don’t know what the image is going to be until I am finished.
When did you become interested in becoming an artist?
Later than most artists. I was in my early 20’s before I even picked up a pencil with the intent of creating a visual (except for elementary school, of course).
What art movement has inspired your work the most?
Ugh! There are so many I pull from … Honestly, those that inspired me the most don’t really fit into a strict ‘movement’ class. Dali was the first classic artist that I always believed was the early beginnings of the modern fantasy artists, and the critics didn’t like his work. He was too unconventional. But the first artist I bothered to study and learn the name of was Michael Whelan (also, not part of a classic ‘movement’).
Of course, what’s seen as fantasy now, was being produced before, since prehistoric times, but then, the stories and folklore were being represented as truth. Science changed all of that. I found myself drawn to the art representing my favorite books, and knew I wanted to become a book cover artist.
How would you describe your style?
I argue with people all of the time that I don’t see a ‘style’ in my work. It’s just a digital painting or a charcoal drawing or whatever the medium for a particular piece may be done in. However, I have been told over and over that I DO have a style, that many can recognize a new work as ‘mine’ if they are familiar with my other works. I have no idea what they are seeing, lol.
Is there a particular genre of book that you mostly design for?
I think if I did the math Sci-fi/Fantasy has dominated my folio for the last couple years, but I make it a point to seek out a variety of genre projects.
How did you start out as a designer?
I didn’t. Although my artistic career goal was to be a fantasy book cover artist, not a designer (two different things), I started illustrating kid’s picture books first, to get my foot into the publishing world’s door. Then, through that same publisher, started designing (title placement and most recently utilizing/manipulating photo-stock to create a visual) book covers for inspirational books. I had learned some design in college just because I was too cheap to pay a designer to ready my work for print.
That publisher didn’t work with fantasy, though. So I started branching out, working with other publishers and freelance. Many books/genres later, I finally got my first fantasy project, but by this time, I had developed a taste for a variety of genres.
Apart from book covers, what else do you do?
I create logos, websites, do book layout, copy editing … Basically, I can do everything but write the book,
How long have you been designing covers?
My first book cover was illustrated in 2007. A children’s picture book.
What was the first book jacket you did?
The first jacket was for a murder mystery, in 2008.
How do you approach a design brief?
I always approach the cover art first. Once the art is approved by the author, then I design around that.
Do you get commissioned by publisher to do book jackets?
I do work with one royalty-based publisher. However, if that’s all I relied on, my family would never get fed, lol.
If you get commissions what is the design process?
My commissioned work starts with the author or publisher. We have an in depth live chat on my website and discuss character traits, environment, and storyline. Then that weird thing in my head takes over, though it’s really a team effort. Drafts are submitted, feedback given, revisions made, until both I and the client are proud to show off the work.
If there was any book cover you had the chance to redesign, what cover would it be?
Probably the first cover I was compelled to do just that, Terry Brooks’ ‘Running With the Demon’. I wanted to see a character from the book and instead it was a big old tree with some green goo oozing from it. So, I redrew it for a college project, I still have the framed original.
It’s been redressed since I bought my copy. And although I felt the first cover art could have better represented the book, at that time, the current cover makes absolutely no sense, At least the first cover LOOKED like an urban fantasy novel and gave buyers a hint of what they’ll find.
What’s your favourite book cover design to date?
That’s a tough one. I approach every cover as a personal work. Even the ones outside my normal genres. Every one of them has a part of the story and a part of me, how I see the world. I really can’t pick a favorite, it would be like picking which kid is your favorite.
‘Although my artistic career goal was to be a fantasy book cover artist, not a designer (two different things), I started illustrating kid’s picture books first, to get my foot into the publishing