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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My co-author and I are looking for a cover artist for an epic fantasy novel we're hoping to release late in the year. I've gone through the KB Yellow Pages and have done some Google fu, but I'd like to expand my search further. The reason we're struggling is we really need to commission original fantasy art - not because we are insane or have a huge budget, but because we want to look professional and get across the feel of the story/world in our cover.

If you are an indie epic fantasy author who has commissioned book covers, I would like answers to as many of these questions as you're willing to give me.

- Who did your cover art?
- How would you rate their professionalism (ability to meet deadlines, openness of communications, willingness to take direction)?
- What was the turnaround like for the project from initial contact to finished product?
- If you feel comfortable sharing, what was the cost like (low/mid/high $100s, $1,000s, etc.)?
- Were you ultimately satisfied with the result (value for the money)?

Thank you in advance for any help you can give us on this. The cover artist we had hoped to work with has proven unreliable (currently 4 months behind schedule), and I can't even begin to describe how frustrating this has made an otherwise straightforward publication process.
 

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My cover art for my fantasy novels was done by Julie Dillon (http://www.juliedillonart.com/)

For my SF, Simon Dominic (http://www.painterly.co.uk/).

I found them by advertising on http://www.conceptart.org/forums/ , which has a section for such advertisements. That's a great source for artists.

They were both very professional, met deadlines, happily made requested changes. The turnaround was around 3 months (I was commissioning a number of covers).

Cost was in the high range because I specifically wanted original (digitally) painted work from artists whose work I loved. [I researched rates for professional artists, saved up for what I could afford, and tried to come up with an amount which I considered 'fair'. So it was less than the standard rates, but more than average for a self-publisher.]

Painted art was less about marketing (frankly, particularly for my YA novel, a photograph of a pretty girl in a floaty dress seems more likely to match current marketing trends) and more about me always wanting specific sorts of painted art for my covers.

I'm very happy with my covers. I get feedback occasionally that painted covers/particularly certain styles of art look like "middle grade" books. But I also get feedback from people who absolutely love the covers and pick up the books because of them.

I have a cover for a freebie short story I did myself using photo stock which cost me something like $5 (http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/63279) and it's a pretty good cover, quite arresting. But I've always wanted beautiful painted covers, something unique and created especially for me. They also make great art to put on my walls at home. :)
 

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I'm interested in the answers to this, too.  Thanks, Kurzon, for the links.

Fantasy covers tend to have a "look" to them.  Almost always drawn/painted artwork.  Well, at least the medieval/alternate world fantasy I read and write does.  I've only been at this about 8 weeks, but I've yet to find a place to buy this kind of art.  I've tried dealing with DiviantArt.com arts, more than half responded to my query.  About half of them were interested.  Narrowed it down to one, and for 6 weeks he's barely contacted me, though he's still on the job.  I was hoping to publish the story but the 4th of July. But I've others have had great success with DeviantArt site artists.
 

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Hi, Eric:

Most of us who paint will tell you that price depends on how complex you want the cover to be. If, for example, you want a battle scene depicting more than two characters in various heroic poses, wearing full armor, with the siege of Realm du Jour in the background, that'll cost you. A single character in a compelling pose, mounted on a vorpal steed, will cost less. There are some wonderful artists out there.

Also, be prepared to be patient. We work best when allowed to 'strike when the mood is right.'

One more point: A digital artist has an 'undo' button. A painter's 'undo' button is a razor blade. Just be cautious in requesting major changes once you have approved the design, and be sure to give your artist a clear description of what you want (if you use a painter). To go in and say: 'Well, it's great. Can you turn the paladin's head a little more? I've decided I want him to face east' will  cause an artist to sigh mightily, reach for the razor blade, and scrape that part of the painting off. Not good!

People, in these days of taking stock photos and digitally manipulating them, expect custom artwork in record time. There is no comparison when it comes to final result, but one must be patient. :D
 
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There are a ton of great artists on elance.com. That's where I found mine, which was very affordable and I had a mostly good experience. Just doing a search for graphic designers will net you a list of results and you can start checking out portfolios.
 

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I hired my artist to render science-fiction, but he produces great fantasy work as well. His name is Alan Gutierrez. Look here for samples of his fantasy work: http://alangutierrez.com/gallery/fantasy/traditional-fantasy

He is a professional, at it now over three decades. Time for each project was a span of weeks, but that's after it's scheduled, which can be months out before he begins, as he is a busy guy. Price is for him to say, though I will say it is fair. Not the cheapest but not outrageous, in my opinion. I am very satisfied with the results (value for the money).

Another of my favorite fantasy artists is Peter Ortiz, who does covers for David Dalglish (Half-Orc here on KB).
 

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I hired Malcolm McClinton to do the cover for Eon's Door. Found him by posting my need in a forum on conceptart.org. I had more than 50 artists from over 20 countries reply to my post--the majority were very good artists. Malcolm's portfolio wowed me. Once hired, I found him to be very professional, his work was done in a timely fashion, and his fee was very reasonable for the quality of the work. I feel I got more than just a cover, I got a great piece of art. Here's a link to Malcolm's site: http://www.wix.com/hangedman/hangedmanstudio
 

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I featured two fantasy cover artists on my blog (well more than two but two who are open to commissions.)

http://www.bearmountainbooks.com/favorite-reads/art-reviews/artists/

John and Anne are both open for commissions and are reasonable prices (it does vary based on what you are looking for.)

Another one who did a fabulous cover for someone here is Joe Slucher:

http://bearmountainbooks.deviantart.com/favourites/#/d3d02z1

Feel free to mention my name if you contact any of them. I know them from various projects and deviantart.

Maria
 

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Deviantart is a great place to go look. You never know, you might find something that works for your story, then you can negotiate the right to use the existing piece.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thank you all for your recommendations. At least half a dozen of these seem to be a good match for this project. Still gotta go through the process of getting quotes, discussing with my co-author, and so forth, but this gives me a huge start over where I was yesterday. If others have more recommendations, keep 'em coming.
 
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