Word Branch Publishing is bound by technology. Our talented team members are spread over several continents and work through Google Docs and Skype, and we take advantage of all of the latest developments in publishing. But we steadfastly hold onto one vestige from the heyday of book publishing: the handpainted cover. This alone is the concept and execution of our talented illustrator: Julian Norwood. Because of this, WBP is able to stand out from the pack of overdone, overused stock covers and tip our metaphorical hats to a tradition that has all but faded from the world of books.
You can see more of Julian’s covers and other artwork by clicking here.
Written by Julian Norwood:
An old saying is to never judge a book by its cover, and while it stands well for people, it’s hardly true for books. The cover is often what makes or breaks a sale; it’s the first thing to catch someone’s eye; it is the hook.
As an artist, I find myself especially judgmental. When I painted in the café of a bookstore chain, I found myself pouring over the stacks, waiting for delicate layers and washes to dry, or my tea to cool. These days, overused font and stock photography have become the norm, and I’m so immersed in their world that I can often name the font they’ve chosen, and easily pick out an over-used photo which has graced far too many a cover. It’s hard to find art gracing a cover these days, unless you go hunting for it. The last cluster of it exists in my favorite nook in the corner. It’s where the science fiction section and manga are tucked together, and throughout the rest of the store, the painted cover has become extinct.
The hand-painted cover has almost disappeared, and it is not for a lack of illustrators in the world. Digital painting has taken the place of oils, and the illustrator’s studio is no longer a room of canvases and paper stacks, with the scent of solvents and printer’s ink in the air. These days, illustrators work at their computers, pulling stock photography, and air brushing, applying filters, and working with the all-purpose media of Photoshop rather than an arsenal of tools. The traditional artist has almost entirely gone from publishing, and is nearly never seen in the world of anything less than the major publishing houses.
I carry on the craft where I can; I do graphic design by hand, with cut paper and clever scanning techniques, the techniques I learned from a professor who mastered her craft before the era of Photoshop. I lay down paint, I carve into metals, I strain my shoulders for the perfect print on a machine older than I. Some days, I take my work out, and create stories in the sunshine on my porch, with painting techniques that pre-date anything I have lived through, but remember all too well on library shelves. I maintain and continue a dying art, and I hope that over the years, there will still be a place for me.