My name is Rustin Petrae. I am a self-published author as well as a graphic designer. I wrote the Histories of Purga novels (Book One: Dragon and Book Two: Roc) as well as the Bane Pack Novels (Blood Ties: The First and Coming Soon! Blood Ties: The Second). I am also the creator and writer for the comic book Hybrid Earth published through Scattered Comics. I’ve been a graphic designer for over 5 years and I have really illustrative, stylized designs.
1) You are a cover designer, what made you decide to get into this line of work? When I first published my own novels, I spent a lot of time looking through other self-published works. I quickly saw that there was a need for my skills and so I offered them.
2) Can you tell us about some of the covers you’ve designed and authors you’ve worked with? (name of books, authors you’ve worked with etc.) I designed three covers (both eBook and print) for Irish author Matthew W. McFarland. He wrote 50/50, The Liar, and Defenestration. I also did a cover for LA author Ryan Haynes and Indian author Sneha Bansal. And of course, I designed all the covers for my own books as well as all the images you see inside them.
3) Can you tell us what is involved? (I have no clue so you can be as elaborate as you like!) I first start off with thumbnails. These are very rough sketches that give the client (or myself) an understanding of the proposed layout of images and graphics. Once we decide on the route we want to take, I go about creating the images, titles, pick out fonts, etc. I then send the client a proof and they either approve that or come back with any changes they may want. Once we go through several drafts and decide on the final product, I email them their finalized files.
Software used – where you source your images, how long a cover takes etc.
I almost exclusively work with vector graphic software but I am also highly proficient with other programs such as Photoshop, InDesign, Quark Xpress, etc. I can create nearly any effect or manipulation that someone might be looking for, all they have to do is ask. When I do create my covers, depending on what graphic I want to use, I usually just create my own.
4) Where does your inspiration come from? Do you read the book first, then come up with a design, or can you produce something from an author’s description? I do not read the books first as most people aren’t quite finished with them yet. I ask the author what thoughts they have or if they want any specific graphics or images they want me to use and then go from there. Once I have a really good idea of what they are looking for, I can picture the cover in my head and start to design what I envision.
5) What are your thoughts on ‘generic’ covers – such as a sword or throne and skulls for fantasy, or interchangeable torsos for romance? Generic, to me, is usually pretty boring. I’m not saying all generic covers are boring, but if they were jazzed up and looking really cool despite being an interchangeable torso or a skull or a sword, then they wouldn’t really be classified as generic anymore anyway. You can make any image look amazing if you’re talented enough.
6) When you buy a book do you look at the cover first? What else attracts you? What turns you off? When I buy a book, the cover is the number one draw. If it looks cool, I will definitely pick it up. The second thing is the back blurb. If that is interesting enough, then I will buy it. I don’t necessarily have turn offs when it comes to buying books, just certain genres that don’t interest me much so I won’t even go in that section.
7) What advice would you give to anyone starting out in this line of work or who might want to design a cover? Be patient. Be receptive to the client’s critiques. And above all else, make sure that the client gets exactly what they’re looking for. A happy client could mean more business in the future.
8) What are your thoughts on sites like Fiverr where people can buy covers cheaply? Do you think they encourage substandard or very generic images? I haven’t actually been on Fiverr so I couldn’t offer an opinion on that particular site. I don’t necessarily think the people doing those all have substandard or generic covers but I imagine there are probably loads of them that are. It is a shame because you have to wade through a lot of people that think they can do it to get to the people that can actually do it.
9) Do you have a genre you prefer? I don’t really have a specific genre that I like to work on more than others. It’s all very entertaining to do but if I had to pick one, it would probably be fantasy. I really like drawing monsters and mythical creatures.
10) Please tell us about your favourite image and the favourite cover you have worked on? I haven’t done a huge amount of covers yet and so I can remember them all pretty easily and I have to say that there is something I like about each one. At the moment, I don’t really have a favorite.
11) Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? I really like the notion of the basic elements like water, earth, fire, wind, etc. That really sneaks its way into a lot of my stories and my artwork.
Blog/website links etc.