Getting your art on a book cover

Most artists are used to getting their work out in the public eye through galleries, coffee shops, art fairs or websites, but what about book covers?

Having art on a book cover is a way to get it in front of hundreds, thousands or even millions of people.

The Ashland Art Center, at 357 E. Main St. in downtown Ashland, is hosting an artist career development workshop devoted to art for book covers.

The workshop is from 1:30 to 3 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 12, at the art center.

Midge Raymond and John Yunker, co-founders of the boutique eco-literature publisher Ashland Creek Press, will discuss the art and science of book cover design from the publisher's perspective.

Raymond said she and Yunker usually start the book cover design process by talking to an author to get that person's perspective.

"The title and art need to work together to give a reader not only a sense of what the story is about, but what the mood and tone are," Raymond said. "We get ideas and information from the author. Usually, they are coming from the writerly, artistic perspective. We look at it from a marketing perspective."

As a small publisher, Ashland Creek Press is usually working with a small budget for book covers.

That means they often ask to use an artist's work for free on a book cover, Raymond said.

"Artists give us the use of their art in exchange for us promoting their work," she said. "If you're an up-and-coming artist, it's a great way to get your work out there. They can put that in their portfolio."

For the book "Balance of Fragile Things," Ashland Creek Press used a butterfly painting by Ashland artist Pegi Smith for the cover. The main character in the book finds a dead butterfly, an indication of an environmental problem.

Smith said she was showing her artwork at a booth at Briscoe Elementary School in town when Raymond and Yunker noticed her butterfly painting and approached her about using the piece for a book cover.

"I think the title of the book — 'Balance of Fragile Things' — and the painting go together well," Smith said. "What's more fragile than a butterfly? It seemed to resonate with them."

Although Ashland Creek Press didn't pay her for use of the artwork, Smith said the book included a page about her and her work. Ashland Creek Press also did a blog posting and write-up about her art and has taken other steps to publicize her work, she said.

"It wasn't just 'Let us use this' and off they ran. They were really kind and respectful about my work," Smith said.

Since the book's release, Smith said she has had people write to her from other parts of the country, wanting to collaborate on projects.

Raymond and Yunker employ a range of means to find artwork for book covers.

Yunker said he looks for art via Getty Images, Saatchi Online and Flickr. He also reads the trade publication Communication Arts, an invaluable resource often used by large publishers that profiles top global artists and illustrators.

Good art directors for publishers keep up on new work, and they also get postcards and portfolios from artists and agencies, Yunker said.

He recommended that artists develop a distinctive style and look at book covers, music CDs, brochures, websites and other areas as potential venues for their art.

Ashland Creek Press will present more insights into the world of book cover design during the workshop, which is free for Ashland Art Center members and $15 for the general public.

If you plan to attend, send an RSVP message to Ashland Art Center Education Director Kara Lewis at or call 541-326-5828.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or

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