Illustrator Spotlight: Emma Yarlett


I caught up with fellow Falmouth graduate and rising picture book artist, Emma Yarlett, about her gorgeous new picture book Sidney Stella and the Moon.

What’s it like having your own picture book out there and so soon after graduating?

Such a whirlwind! I had always dreamed and hoped, but never expected that dream to become a reality so soon! For me it feels as though it has been quite a long process, as I began working on the beginning stages of this project way back in 2010, but it’s incredible to see how far the book has come especially since Templar took me on board!

Sid­ney, Stella and the Moon is your first picture book – can you tell us a bit about the whole process from start to finish? (Sorry – I know this is a pretty BIG question!)

This is a super big question! Hmmm… where to start. I guess like Julie Andrews says “I will start at the very beginning!!” I hope you are sitting very comfortably, might be worth getting a cup of tea and a biscuit! Continue reading


Illustrator Spotlight: Kelly Murphy

Hey guys. Welcome to the first Illustrator Spotlight post of 2013! I’ve been contacting lots of artists recently about taking part and was very excited when the talented Kelly Murphy replied saying she was happy to answer some questions about her work! Kelly has illustrated a lot of picture books and book covers, but it was the cover for Behind the Bookcase by Mark Steensland that first caught my eye. For those of you particularly interested in learning about the process behind illustrating a book cover, or thinking about going into illustration yourself, Kelly gives some great advice and insight below, as well as a glimpse at her early sketches for the book.
Looking at your website, you’ve working on a lot of book covers and picture books. What was your favourite project to work on?

It’s difficult to pinpoint which project I have enjoyed the most. Most of the time, projects run several months up to several years. I can say that by the end of every project, there is a real desire to clear the desk and send the art along to it’s next destination. When I start packing it up for shipment, that’s when I start to get a bit nervous and want to keep reworking them. I enjoy projects for what they are: Picturebooks are a chance to really push my color and chapter books are to really celebrate character. Behind the Bookcase was one of my more beloved books to work on because it allowed me to show my darker side. Continue reading

Cover Corner: Neil Swaab

Today I’m really pleased to welcome Neil Swaab to Cover Corner. The cover for I’ll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan made my list of Top Ten Covers in 2011. It’s incredibly striking and it’s not hard to see why so many YA readers have been chatting about it. Neil is also the illustrator behind the cover of Sweetly by Jackson Pearce and kindly agreed to answer some questions about them and the industry itself.

Did you get to read either book before working on the cover illustration?

I read I’ll Be There, but wasn’t able to read Sweetly, unfortunately, because of time constraints. 

How much input did the publishers/design team have? Were you given a basic guideline to work to, or free reign?

A ton. Covers are scrutinized tremendously and these two were no exception. For both covers, I was given a pretty clear concept and direction by the design team of what they were looking to achieve. Based on what they wanted, I was able to build upon that and expand on their idea, bringing some of my own sensibilities and solutions to the cover.

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Cover Corner: Ana Juan

Ana Juan, illustrator of the unique children’s book Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente, is joining us on Cover Corner today to tell us a little bit about her work.

You’re work has quite a dark, almost creepy atmosphere to it, which I love. Do you try to tone that down when working on children’s book projects, or do you find kids love that?

I am not toning down  my art work, in fact , I have the feeling than I am toning up little by little my work for children books…

How did you get into illustration?

I am an illustrator and I am sure than Ive been an illustrator since I was a kid and I discovered the magic world of books. An illustrator has to work as a wizard, catching the readers to bring them into a world where they can sleep awake. During my professional life, I’ve learned how to walk on the edge of the line between the reality and the dreams. This line is so thin that often both worlds can get confused . Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Cover Corner: Christopher Silas Neal

I’m delighted to welcome illustrator Chris Silas Neal to Turn the Page today!

As soon as I saw the beautiful cover for May B by Caroline Starr Rose I knew I simply had to have it. After stalking checking out his website I fell in love with his work and Christopher very kindly agreed to chat with me about creating the image for Cover Corner.

Did you get to read the book before working on the cover illustration?

In this case, I was lucky enough to read the manuscript before starting work on the cover. For various reasons mostly due to the schedule I often only read a portion of the book and in some instances only have a synopsis. Though, a summary of the story and a few notes from the editor are enough to inspire a good cover. When I do get a chance to read the completed story I often become attached to the work and Murphy’s Law dictates that the more you love a book, the more likely your cover sketches will be killed and never see the light of day. Well, not really but it does happen. That’s the worst, when you’ve invested a lot of time reading the material, falling in love with the characters, sketching and brainstorming- only to have your cover rejected before you even make it to the final art stage. That’s just part of the business and when you do get a good cover through to final for a story that you love, it’s something special.
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Cover Corner: Heather Landis

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hopkins

So, if you are part of the YA blogosphere, you’ll already know (and probably have admired) the rather unique book cover for The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer – one of the most highly anticipated releases this year. In honor of the its release tomorrow, I thought I’d dedicate this weeks Cover Corner to Heather Landis, professional photographer and illustrator, who shot this beautiful photograph.

For those of you aren’t in the know, this is just one image from a series of photos entitled The Abyss of the Disheartened, all of which are equally stunning, haunting and simply captivating to look at. I have included a few here to give you a taste, but I highly recommend checking out Heather Landis’ website to see them at their best and see her other work.

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Cover Corner: Jason Chan

Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev

As soon as I saw the book cover for Eyes Like Stars I knew I had to read it. It’s just so pretty. Beautifully rendered, and it’s so unusual to see an illustration like this on the cover of a YA book that it didn’t really matter to me what the story was about. The best illustrations give you sense of the story within, and I think this digital painting by concept artist and illustrator Jason Chan does just that.

Gorgeous rich colours, beautiful subtle lighting, a girl with the kind of hair I only wish I could pull off, and fairies (and not just any fairies, but the fairies from A Midsummer Night’s Dream!). I didn’t even care about reading any reviews on whether the story was any good or not. When a book is graced with such quality illustration and design, I tend to just assume the story inside with live up to the artwork. I love how Square Fish has allowed the artwork sell the book, and kept any font to a bare minimum. These initial drawings and work-in-progress pictures give you an idea of how Jason Chan created the illustration…

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