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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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