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I enjoy creating book covers, they have a purpose and yet there is unlimited scope for creativity in the making of them. With this post I’ve tried to nail down exactly what it is I enjoy about being inspired to create, and how this is triggered by a book cover brief. Be warned, this post is a little unusual, even by previous standards… still with me? Good.

Long ago now, whilst I was studying photography at college, I was lucky to be part of a field trip to the exhibition of a notable and famous portrait photographer. This photographer was undoubtedly highly accomplished and well regarded, however, what piqued my interest more was the natural history museum in the building opposite.

After a suitable amount of time had passed in which to view some of the photographer’s work, a classmate and I snuck out to discover the brooding volcanoes, gaping oceanic chasms, almost every colour of spider you can imagine, and of course the gone but not forgotten, dodo, that waited for us on the other side of the street.

Of course, middle-aged me does not condone, and may even frown upon such flagrant absenteeism, however brief, but the me of almost 25 years ago illustrated something in his behaviour that is true of me even now, I wanted to be inspired by stories.

Every story has a character
Now, it didn’t matter what stories, stories are formed from the inspiration that comes from the world around us, from the information we absorb, and especially from the artefacts and dioramas of the museum, for me at least, each source of inspiration carries its own distinct character, which for me is more detailed than say, the tone it represents. I am inspired to create something visual that is of that exact character as I perceive it. Because of this, and with specific and unique inspiration as a guide, creating something like a book cover becomes almost like setting a scene within a novel.

Why didn’t I enjoy the photography exhibition?
I like to act on inspiration, for me art is about doing rather than viewing. It was because the stories of the subjects in the photographer’s exhibition were already there and not accessible to the kind of interpretation I was looking for that I made a hasty but ever so careful dash for the dodo; the subjects of the photograph’s stories had been told by someone else.

A confession
To this day, and for this reason, I am slightly ashamed to admit that I don’t really enjoy art galleries or exhibitions, undoubtedly the work included there is usually exceptional, but it isn’t for me. Books, book shops, coffee shops, music, films, nature, folklore, conversation and people are where it’s at.

The one exception to this is the Southbank Centre in London, there’s lots to do there and usually an exhibition or two. I’d move in if they would let me.

Of course, I realise how bonkers all this sounds, but for a long time this has been how I am able to make or create art, such as a book cover.

Enjoyment through creating art
Book covers are a perfect exercise in enjoyment through creating art; all the character (in the broadest possible sense) is there in the synopsis waiting to be interpreted and made into something of the story. In this way, and to mirror a statement made on a previous post, each book cover becomes an invitation from the worlds within.

In case you were wondering I did graduate from that photography course back in 1997, and I created my first piece of digital art in the same year.

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