Cover art for Alice Sabo’s “Desperate Measures”

Here is the front cover artwork for Desperate Measures – book five of Alice Sabo’s Changed World Series.

This cover was an enjoyable challenge. Alice had a rough idea of the kind of thing she wanted, but wasn’t sure how or even if it would work as a book cover, so that’s when it fell to me to come up with an atmospheric and thought provoking image, that would also sit comfortably alongside the other books in the series.

With most of Alice’s previous covers, I have always worked up one or two rough sketches beforehand, whereas with this one, I launched straight into the actual artwork.

Desperate Measures is out now – check out Alice’s blog for further information.

Desperate_Measures_WEB

Out now – No Space for Justice

Following the previous post on my cover art for William N. Gilmore’s science fiction/crime novel No Space for Justice, as promised, here is the full front and back illustration for the paperback edition, which is available now via Amazon.

No Space For Justice cover spread

And here is a photo of the finished book itself, which landed this week – William kindly sent all the way from Atlanta! Now that’s a well-traveled book.

The moment you see your pixels come to life in print never fails to be rewarding.

No Space for Justice Paperback

Cover Reveal: No Space for Justice

I have just completed the cover art for No Space for Justice, by William N. Gilmore – and here it is.

The story sees Earth’s best homicide detective shipped off to a strange alien world with no police, courts or crime, to solve an 800-year-old murder, and it was crucial to get a feel for this in the cover art.

Stay tuned for more details about the book’s release this coming December, plus a look at the back cover illustration…

No_Space_For_Justice

Cover Reveal: Blood Relations

I’m pleased to reveal my most recent cover illustration, for the latest book in Alice Sabo’s Asher Blaine mystery series, Blood Relations.

The cover art follows the same visual and typographical style to the previous two Asher Blaine titles. For this new book, Alice came to me with a fairly clear idea of what she wanted to see on the cover – Blaine, standing in a cornfield, with vultures circling overhead. My immediate reaction was to set the scene at sundown, with a golden haze enveloping our subtly blood-stained protagonist.

Below is the full front, back and spine design for the paperback version.

Blood_Relations_Cover_Art_spread

To find out more about Blood Relations and Alice’s other books, visit her blog.

Twenty!

Last week, I published Prototype, my 20th independent album release via Bandcamp. This feels like a milestone of sorts, so I figured it was a good opportunity for a look back over my musical journey.

I first started making music as The Light Dreams in 2006. I had no musical training whatsoever – I didn’t know if I even had any musical ability. I had simply spent so many years as a music fan, soaking up influences, that it felt like time to regurgitate that influence and see what I could shape it into. Over the next 18 months, I made a lot of demos and album ideas, learning as I went. They were raw and rough, but I knew where I wanted to go. I’d share them online for feedback, and that spurred me on to keep trying.

I wasn’t interested in writing songs or playing live. I wanted to make instrumental music. A kind of audio equivalent of painting. I still maintain that the creative process is the same for both; one uses sounds, the other uses colours. And both allow your mind to wonder and escape to other places.

In the summer of 2007, I made what I consider my first real album, Into the Light. Thanks to the previous year’s exploration and experimenting, my own sound and style was finally defining itself. In contrast to the optimistic soundscape of Into the Light, I was also interested in exploring darker, heavier, electronica – which I did with Mechanical Drive, in 2009. With that album, I felt I’d accomplished everything I could (I was wrong) and decided to focus on developing my science fiction artwork.

Creativity is like an itch which needs to be scratched, and in 2012, the musical itch returned. I bought some new equipment and soon got back into making music, with a renewed vigour. I called the resulting album Inferno, and felt I had made something that might be good enough to sell online.

In a 1996 interview, David Bowie said something along the lines of: If you’re really turned on by whatever it is you are creating, there’s bound to be other people out there who will like it too. As with many things, Bowie was right. It’s absolutely true. This has become my creative mantra for art and music.

Having looked at the options available to independent musicians, Bandcamp was the platform to offer what I was looking for. I joined, and published Inferno as a digital download – and it sold! Encouraged by this, I also published Into the Light and Mechanical Drive, before focusing on my next project.

Around the same time, I was invited to become honorary musician for The Initiative for Interstellar Studies (I4IS), a new organisation keen to promote its mission via the creative arts. This gave my music a second home and also the chance over the following years to work on a series of space travel-themed albums – perfect for my style of music – that I published in association with I4IS.

Every album was a learning curve. With each project, I would learn something new on the technical side, whilst improving my playing. Each album would often better the previous. Being purely independent, there is no pressure or deadlines to hit, other than my own. In a sense, I started treating music the same way self-publishing authors work, putting out one or two new releases each year to keep momentum and interest.

The contrasting dark and light themes continue through all my work, with album concepts including time, dreams and space travel (many of the same themes you’ll see in my artwork).

Making music also offers a different creative channel to my primary work of digital art and graphic design. It’s often nice to have an album project on the go at the same time as I’m working on a book cover or a personal piece.

More and more artists – amateur and established – are going down the independent route. As with self-publishing, The Internet has given our music the chance to be heard in all parts of the world, without needing a record label, and technology has allowed us to make professional quality music from the comforts of home without expensive studio time.

I like the way Bandcamp operate, and they’re an ideal platform for new and independent artists and especially for those niche genres of music such as my own.

I never imagined I would have a discography, and the simple fact that other people like it enough to buy, has kept me motivated. I appreciate that support enormously.

What’s the point in making art if nobody else gets to see or hear it?

Explore The Light Dreams’ discography at: thelightdreams.bandcamp.com

Any comments or questions welcome!

The Sleeping Dragon

This week, my latest cover art was unveiled – a full cover wrap for The Sleeping Dragon, a fantasy comedy by Jonny Nexus.

This is probably among a minority of fantasy books with “dragon” in the title, but no dragon in sight on the cover, and there is a good reason for this – but you’ll just have to investigate the book when it comes out, to discover why!

Jonny was keen to show two times within the cover; a lush, Tolkeinesque landscape of the past, intersected with a glimpse of the future metropolis that would be built on the same land. Showing the future vision via a crystal ball conveyed the magical, fantastical element that we wanted.

The Sleeping Dragon Cover

I also created a short animated visual for the cover, which Jonny has used in his own cover reveal video…

You can find out more about the book and Jonny’s other work, by following him on Twitter.

Gaming in the Obscure

One of my current projects is the design & layout of a new book, Gaming in the Obscure, by console collector, Jonn Blanchard. The book details many of the lesser known and much forgotten gaming consoles of the 80s and 90s.

Jonn has launched a Kickstarter campaign to hopefully fund a bigger print run of the book, so if retro gaming is your thing, please come and take a look!