In February, one of my contacts on Twitter, Claudia Hall Christian (@ClaudiaC), indirectly introduced me to Washington D. C.-based author Dwain Smith (@DwainSmith). She informed her followers that I was interested in creating book art, as I love drawing (in addition to writing). But I gave Claudia a little extra bait to put on her Tweet-hook: I said I would do the work for free in order to bulk up my personal portfolio. Within a matter of seconds, Dwain sent me a tweet, explaining that his new book, Bullheaded, needed cover art.
Below (Top Drawing) is the finished, client-approved piece that will adorn the cover of Bullheaded. Below it is my first attempt at art for the book. It is the rejected kitten of my litter of two, but I still have affection for it. Only a mother (or father, in my case) could love such a bloody miscreant. I did not have much direction in the beginning. I only knew the book was a retelling of the Greek myth of Theseus and the minotaur in the labyrinth. Since Theseus decapitates the minotaur in the myth of old, I suspected the book would be somewhat bloody. Having seen Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill movies too many times, I decided this meant the cover should be something of a splatter-fest as well. Dwain disagreed, and I was not totally surprised. It seemed a bit extreme when I submitted it to him, but I was essentially testing the waters at that point. I suspect it was the awful pun (Note the drain beneath his name – as in, “Knock knock. Who’s there? Dwain. Dwain who? Dwain the bathtub, I’m dwowning!”) that deep-sixed my first attempt at a cover for Mr. Smith.
While Kansas City-based artist Danny J. Gibson would deny that he has had any artistic influence on me, I would argue otherwise. One of the big things Danny has taught me about typography, for instance, is to be creative with it. Danny was inducted into the New York Typography Director’s Club because of a poster he created for a Californian band called The Violet Burning (who just released a 3-disc, 34 song album called The Story of Our Lives-Liebe über Alles, Black as Death and The Fantastic Machine), in which he used leaves or reeds or some sort of foliage to create individual letters.
Using Danny’s ingenuity as a starting point, I created the labyrinthine maze font for the book title in the finished product above. My first attempt at creativity with the title of the book – vertical, and covering a Grecian statue – was deemed unreadable by most who saw it. My wife liked it, and I did too. But in the end, level heads prevailed (Thankfully!). Hope you enjoy the drawings.
A big thanks to Claudia, Dwain, and Danny for making all of this possible. I look forward to reading the book, Dwain!