Cover Corner: Juliana Kolesova

I’m certain I’m not the only one who completely fell in love with the cover for Plain Kate by Erin Bow. If you want to find out more about this wonderful book (its become one of my favourites) check out my review here.

I personally think it was the rich colours with the contrast of the burnt orange and yellows with the blue that first drew me to this cover. I loved the girl balancing on the roof tiles (very Anne of Green Gables of her) and having read the book I think it perfectly captures Kate’s spirit while hinting at the loneliness of her life as well.

Today, I’m excited to welcome the artist behind the cover, Juliana Kolesova, to Turn the Page. Despite being incredibly busy, with eleven projects on the go (!!!), Juliana kindly took the time out to answer a few questions about her work.

Was the illustration for the cover of Plain Kate especially commissioned, or did the publishers see the piece and ask to use it?

Yes indeed, this cover was specially commissioned. Most of the work I do regarding book cover illustrations are specially commissioned. Mostly I work for book publishers, which means that the illustration has to bring across exactly what is told in the story.

Were you given a basic outline or were you given free reign to do what you wanted?

I was definitely given direction from the art director working on the cover. However, they also gave me a bit of artistic freedom.

Have you read the book? (If yes – what did you think of it?)

 I have read the book, and I thoroughly enjoyed it too! Simply put, I adored this read, the writing was very colourful and rich. As well, my teenage daughter, enjoyed it very much.

Can you tell us a bit about the image? What media do you work in? What atmosphere or idea where you trying to convey?

This work was a photo-based digital art. The atmosphere definitely had to be very deep. I was going for a dark feel, yet something that was really enchanting. I really wanted something that would convey the story, which is of course, most important. The story draws from Russian folktales, however, is not a historical read. Erin Bow is such an exquisite writer, and I wanted to make the cover fitting to her story.

Can you tell us a little bit about your working process from start to finish?

I first read a short synopsis of the story and discussed the cover with the Art director to get a feel of what the art needed to demonstrate. I made a few sketches, using different perspectives or point of views just to add variety, and sent them to the art director. When one of the sketches was approved, I began to combine images, such as those for the background, to play with. I always try to use my own images, mostly photographs that I took during my travels. In this case in particular, I had incorporated many images from Scotland and Paris. I found a model, in this case being my daughter. I combined all these images to produce the final scene. Next, began the photoshop magic, if one can call it that. When the illustration was created, I sent it to the client for approval. This process takes quite a bit of time, seeing as everyone must see and confirm the art; the author, the art director etc. to make sure it is perfect.

Your illustration work has a strong historical/fantasy feel to it – what inspires you?

As I mentioned earlier, I do travel quite a bit, which is perhaps the foundation of my inspiration. I love travelling to places with deep histories, such as Scotland for example, even the simplest ruined castle is the basis of inspiration for me. In addition, I studied the history of art and costumes, and this has been driving me ever since. I truly love classical art: literature, painting from different eras.

What is challenging about creating a book cover? Do you give a lot of thought to the age of the potential reader?

Yes, it is definitely very important to create art that applies to a certain audience. This is perhaps one of the most challenging things about making book covers. Here is when the art director really helps me. In addition, it can be challenging to combine that which every wants to see, with what is actually possible to do. Often times, it can be hard to for example change a facial expression of a model, after having shot him/her in a certain way. Nonetheless, the challenges are what make my job exciting!

Are there any illustrated book covers out there you particularly love?

There are a lot of talented artists working in the book publishing area and so many gorgeous illustrations! Some covers I really like include Fallen and Torment by Lauren Kate, Fated by Alyson Noel, With A Name Like Love by Tess Hilmo and Champion Rose by Andrea K. Host.

Some of my personal favourites from Juliana’s portfolio. Click on the images to view slideshow.

All images courtesy of Juliana’s website

If you want to check out more of Juliana’s work, take a look at her up-to-date portfolio on Shannon Associates website, or wander over to her own web page here. Juliana has worked as a graphic designer, illustrator, art director and has started her own design and illustrator business!

I hope you have enjoyed finding out a bit behind the cover and the artist herself, she’s certainly an inspiration to all us budding illustrators! A big thank you to Juliana for her permission to post images of her work and for agreeing to a Q&A!


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