Monday, January 4, 2016

The Daemons Ask the US Cover Designer!

Tal Goretsky is the cover designer for U.S. editions of the All Souls Trilogy books.

Happy New Year!  We thought we'd start it here with a big bang, and have our first post of 2016 be a really cool Q&A!  We were so grateful for the time given to us by AST's cover designer, Tal Goretsky.  His answers were so informative and interesting!  What happens when a cover designer is given the task to entice potential readers to pick up a book?  What's the process?  How is the author involved?  What inspires the artist?  Let's find out . . .


Daemons:  Could you generally describe your job and training?

Tal:  I am the art director of Crown Business at Random House. I originally jumped through majors in college, and after trying out various jobs, ended up getting my graphic design education at SVA (School of Visual Arts, in NY). I have worked in movie poster design, as a retoucher in advertising agencies, and a book cover designer.

Daemons:  How do you get from a “raw manuscript” to the beautiful covers that entice us to pick up any given book?

Tal: I love reading raw manuscripts to get a feel for the cover. The story informs the design – if it takes place at a certain period of time, that can clue you in to the typography you’ll use, for example. It also helps to think of the market for the book, and what is a person going to look for when they pick this book up. Like, are they in the mood for a fast, fun beach read? Or a challenging, sophisticated read? Or both?

Daemons:  What media do you prefer? Are you strictly a digital artist or do you use a combination of digital and traditional techniques?

Tal: I work in Photoshop a lot, but I also take pictures of people or objects for my covers. It’s always fun to get away from the computer a little bit, and play with your camera, a scanner, a photocopy machine, build a little model, etc.
Daemons:  Would you describe for our readers the development of the AST covers from conception to the bookstore shelf?  How involved is the author?

Tal:  The AST books were going to be a big trilogy. I had to develop A Discovery of Witches with a series look in mind. I worked closely with art director Paul Buckley. One of my first ideas actually featured Diana and Matthew on the cover, but ultimately, with the help of Paul, I realized that alchemy was the big sell here – it was the big magical thing that I think Deborah Harkness also wanted us to feature prominently on the cover. So I did a lot of research and ended up using the symbols on the cover. It’s a combination of several old sources. I like that Diana and Matthew still appear on the cover, but very subtly – the symbol at the bottom represents Diana, and the king at the top is Matthew, also, the sun and the moon at the top represent them. It gives them this magical representation of immortal figures appearing through time. Once Discovery was done, the subsequent books were much easier to design. Shadow of Night was really fun because Diana and Matthew travel through time – I only had 100 pages or so of the manuscript at the time I was designing this. That’s where the time tunnel comes in, and luckily, I found an alchemical symbol of concentric circles that worked well as a time tunnel. When I worked on The Book of Life, I think I had no manuscript to work from, but we knew Venice and astronomy would be part of the story.

Daemons:  What’s the best part of your job? 

Tal:  The best part is the creative process – sketching out an idea and executing it. Sometimes you hit on a great idea and know right away you’ve got something. When I finally figured out how the symbols and type should interact in Discovery of Witches, I was ecstatic. I knew I had something, and the art director and publisher were happy. That’s always a great moment. Also, seeing the final printed object is a great moment in the process. Thinking about the special effects and making them happen on a final jacket is kind of a mathematical, engineering process. It takes a lot of brain work and some trial and error, and a lot of time. So it’s great to see it executed well in the end. We printed all the AST covers on foil, and had to figure out where the foil would appear and disappear, what coating to use on the paper, etc. It was gratifying when everything worked out so well.

Daemons:  How many covers a year do you create?  Do you specialize in any particular genre?  Would our readers be familiar with any of your other work?

Tal: I work on thrillers, sci fi, fantasy books, but also literary fiction, history, current events, and business books. I’m not really sure how many I design per year, I’ve never counted. Maybe 30?

Daemons:  What was your favorite part of the AST project?
Tal:  The best part of AST was how we got the series look down on the first book, after trying a lot of things first, and then were able to build on that design for the subsequent books. I was so happy that audiences loved the books and made them successful.

Daemons: Will we see your work again on The Serpent’s Mirror?

Tal: I am not sure who is working on Serpent’s Mirror, but I wish them success and happiness!

Daemons: Thank you for your time, Tal!

Tal Goretsky

Visit Tal on the web to see some of his work (besides our beloved trilogy, we believe you'll recognize quite a few covers - especially if you are an avid reader!):

* Tal Designz  - "A Magical Assortment of Tal Goretsky's Favorite Book Cover Projects"
* TalScribbz - His art director blog.


Interesting, huh?!  If you are curious about a process, a person or anything to do with AST, let us know!  We'll certainly reach out and try to get some answers for you. Ok, guys.  Make sure it's related to the trilogy!  As much as we'd love to get a hold of your favorite actor/singer/reality star etc., we'll need to stay focused! :-p 

Feed your daemons, friends.

Follow us on Facebook - Twitter - Pinterest - Tumblr - Instagram - Subscribe