Sunday, November 6, 2011

Meet Fiona Jayde - cover artist extraordinaire!

How did you get your start in Graphic Design?

FJ:  I’ve always wanted to be an illustrator – my inspiration was fantasy cover art by Michael Whelan. Later, I fell in love with fantasy artists like Boris Vallejo and Luis Royo. Problem is, I couldn’t draw.  I went to art school and still I can’t draw a stick figure. I can paint landscapes a la Bob Ross, but even those are questionable.
When I was in art school, I discovered that I could make images on the computer and somehow my pencil clumsy hands could do wonders with a computer mouseJ I started learning more about web design, graphic design etc, all under the banner of “art”. And I discovered that I don’t need skills with a pencil to achieve my dream of producing fantasy covers. I still wish I could draw though.

What are your favorite sort of covers to do? (erotic, fantasy, etc.)

FJ: My favorite covers are edgy moody dark fantasy/sci fi. Give me a hero and a pair of wings and I’ll be happy J Give me a setting where I have to make things blow up or drip with bubbles (or blood, I’m not picky), and I’m in heaven. Give me something metal, and I’ll make it shine (and that can be a pair of handcuffs or a gun… like I said, I’m not picky) I love high contrast colorful dramatic images that draw the eye.

You’re now one of our house cover designers. Do you remember the first project you did for Decadent Publishing? (you can also elaborate into the other stuff you’ve done for us, like the RT magazine layouts)

FJ: I believe the first cover I did for Decadent was Long Hard Ride. I still remember trying to find the perfect cannon with Keta Diablo.  I think I didn’t officially become a house cover designer until I did wings for Deena Ramiel for her Angel series (Deena – when am I getting more angels to play with ???), and we formed a beautiful friendship J

What are a few of your best or favorite Decadent Publishing covers? (we’ll post an image and URL)

FJ: My favorite covers are the ones where I get feedback along the lines of “the staff was speechless for full five minutes”. Hell yeah, I’ll take that compliment!
I already mentioned my winged angels for the Brethren series by Deena Ramiel. A couple more are:

Handcuffs & Silk

The Middlesex Suite (I was afraid Facebook was going to ban that image when it was uploaded!)

I also love the Absinthe series images I’ve done for Azura Ice:

And of course, we can’t forget the awesome Run Devil Run covers (and can I just say I behaved like a mature adult and didn’t giggle like an idiot when I met my cover models? That’s my story and I’m sticking to it)

Do you have other creative outlets besides designing? (good place to talk about your own books!)

FJ: Oh man, what creative outlet don’t I have? I’m a writer as well (and by the way, I hate doing my own covers because I’m my own worst client). When I do drag my rear away from the computer, I paint happy little landscapes a  la Bob Ross,  play a mean F Blues Boogie on the keys (I just bought a gorgeous old upright and already  have a story brewing about it), and I practice martial arts when my long-suffering hubby manages to drag me to class.

Have you won awards for your covers?

FJ: Brethren Trinity was #2 favorite cover at You Gotta Read Reviews. And one of my covers – A Captain’s Order, A Duke’s Command  won favorite historical cover at the Australian Romance Writers Association.

What would you advise authors in terms of communicating their vision to you in creating cover art?

FJ: Authors are my first line of defense in understanding the mood and feel of the book. Give me adjectives that visually describe what your book is about – a dark angsty feel is something I can visualize, while  “a book about revenge” isn’t quite as graphic.
And then,  the best thing an author can do is leave me to my own devices. Authors are emotionally invested in their works – as they should be – and don’t see the marketability aspect. It doesn’t matter that the heroine’s cheekbones/jaw line is different than the stock image, or that a certain scene is the “key” in the book. My job – as is the job of every cover artist – is to create a compelling commercial piece that will show the reader what the book is about and make the reader want to find out more. (This is why I can’t do my own covers, by the way, because I can’t unhinge myself from my own emotional investment to let my non-verbal artistic side come out and play)

Find out more about Fiona, her artwork and her books at


Barbara Elsborg said...

That was really interesting, Fiona. Some great covers there and if there are wings involved - I'm there. I recently bought a book JUST because of the cover. I've never done that before, but I loved it so much. Not one of yours - I don't know the artist but the picture was of an angel falling with his wings broken - on Hush, Hush. Pity the book didn't live up to the cover!

Jessica E. Subject said...

Oh, I've bought many books because of the cover.

You do have great covers!

I understand the emotional investment in the story. It's great to know what the cover artists are looking for when we're filling out the forms. :)

Casea Major said...

Fiona - Your covers are AMAZING! I know your work. I drool over it and covet it for my stories. Decadent has amazing cover artist each with their own style but I personally love your covers the best. The Emerald Moon cover is one of the most beautiful covers I've ever seen for a book.

Samantha Gail said...

It's the awesome Fiona Jayde! Woohoo! Book covers are so crucial...especially with ebooks, and yours are some of the best out there.

Anonymous said...

@ Barb - I've done the same, buying a book simply because the cover was amazing:) I looove wing covers:)

@ Jessica - Thanks! I always like to go to bookstores to drool over covers and steal ideas:) I tend to haunt the sci-fi fantasy isle a lot.

@ Casea - Thanks so much! Decadent does have amazing cover artists - I'm thrilled to be in the company of such talented professionals.

@ Samantha - oww, thanks! Covers really are crucial - first and sometimes last chance to grab a potential reader:)

Thanks for commenting, ladies!

Deena said...

Fiona! How the heck did I miss this?! I am so happy you're my cover artist. Words cannot describe adequately how I feel about your work. You create mood, passion, angst, joy, intrigue, and more with your magic touch. Your covers tell a story before the story even begins. That's the mark of a master. Mwuahhh!