My first stop on my Grand Tour de Avon was the art department where all the HarperCollins mass-market paperback covers are created. My guide, Will, was awfully nice (get used to me saying everyone was nice, because everyone just was) and terribly cute. (I’m quite certain he would blush if he read that, which is why I wrote it.)
So Will began by showing me some of the original paintings used for Avon covers. From what I gather, the editorial team comes up with the initial ideas for the covers – they tell the art people roughly how the characters should look (hair and eye color) and be dressed, and if there are any key scenes that would make for a compelling cover. Although a lot of publishers are moving to computer-generated art, Avon still commissions actual paintings for most of their romance covers. They often start with a photo shoot, with models in period costume, and then they send the photos to the artist. I got to see some of the paintings up close (alas, not the models!), and they are beautiful. Some of the authors choose to buy the paintings after the covers are done – I can understand why!
I saw the original painting for the cover of Jenna Petersen’s Desire Never Dies. Interestingly, that painting featured quite a bit of heroic posterior that didn’t quite make it onto the cover! This led to an interesting conversation about the impact of Wal-Mart on cover art. … Read More »