Queen’s Thief Week: Guest Post by Vince Natale

Vince Natale is the incredibly talented artist responsible for the matching covers of the Queen’s Thief series. I seriously love these covers so I wanted to feature Vince here on the blog for Queen’s Thief Week. I’m pretty clueless when it comes to interviewing illustrators so I asked my friend Capillya of That Cover Girl to help me out with the questions. Also, his concept art for the series has been featured on Sounis, which you can view here and here (click on the links only if you’ve read the books, some images may be spoilery).


Have you always wanted to become an illustrator? How did you get into illustrating book covers?
I knew I wanted to become an illustrator during my second year of art school. I’d always wanted to be an artist, but wasn’t really aware of the potential in the commercial area, the interesting and broad variety of things that people/companies needed to have art for. When I met my illustration mentor Peter Caras, I was really attracted to the types of things he was doing and decided that illustration was the thing for me.

I got into book covers, I suppose, because of the great demand, the fact that my mentor was a book cover illustrator, and with books there was lots of room for creativity, and varied subject matter.

What’s it like doing the artwork for the Queen’s Thief series? Was there pressure to make them have the same feel? Did they give you free rein in coming up with a concept?
Working on the Attolia series was a great experience. I really had a lot of fun with these covers. They were limited in their complexity, which meant I could focus on interesting detail, work with creative lighting situations, and color schemes. There was a need for these covers all to have the same “feel”, but I wouldn’t call it “pressure”. Most of the “feel” I think came from the squarish shape of the art, and the kind of zooming in on details of a “scene” rather than a whole scene itself. Hands were important, and kind of the focus, and definitely a common thread in the covers, as well as no complete faces.

For the first three books the publisher (editors/art directors) had a rough idea of what they wanted for the covers. and sent me some mocked up comps to go by. Of course visual things changed a little bit due to my input and interpretation, but the basic idea or concept remained. The last book, though, was a different story. I was given the manuscript to read and come up with concepts. I sketched out quite a few ideas for the publisher – there was just so much imagery in the book that really could have worked well in expressing the theme and color of the story. After seeing my rough concepts the editors decided that something including a horse in it might be more appropriate. I wasn’t in total agreement with them on this as it would force the cover to have a decidedly different look, content and design/composition wise, than the rest. They were OK with that, and after I delivered sketches of the main character on horseback, that’s what they decided to go with.

I love the common theme of hands and only partially seen faces in the covers. Did you get to read any of the books? If so, which one was your favorite, and did it have a connection to the ease of illustrating for that cover?
The only complete book I read was the last one (A Conspiracy of Kings). Reading it gave plenty of fodder for visual imagery and it was somewhat easy to come up with ideas. For the other books I was given synopses that gave me enough information to get a good idea of the characters’ personalities, looks, attitudes and behaviours. They also gave me good idea of plot and atmosphere, as well as background settings to work from in order to decide on a “tone” or “feel” for the individual illustrations.

How would you describe your particular type of artistry?
Hmm. I suppose my style of work would be considered contemporary realism. Some say photorealism. Me, I just call it realism.

Can you give us samples of other book covers that you’ve designed?
Gee, I’ve done so many. I’ve done covers in the genre’s of Horror, Fantasy, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Mens Adventure, Historical, Romance, Urban Fantasy, Vampires, and Young Adult.

What are some of your favorite book covers?
The Attolia series happen to be a few of my favorites. Others that I like, and liked doing were some of the covers for “The Vampire Huntress series” by LA Banks. Generally, my favorite things are on the darker, more mysterious side.

If anyone is interested in seeing more work, feel free to point them to my website.

Can you give us sample sketches that you did for the covers?
These first four are my “tight” or final sketches for the covers showing some color notes as well.

These are the rough sketches I did for Conspiracy of Kings that were rejected. I was REALLY hoping to do the one of him in the embroidered coat with his hands on the hilt of the sword… Oh well!


Thank you, Vince! Isn’t the whole creative process behind the covers so very interesting? What I love about these covers is they represent the contents of the books really well (except probably for the size of Hamiathes’s Gift in The Thief). I think the sketches for A Conspiracy of Kings are great because those are actual scenes that Vince envisioned while reading the book. I really want to have matching hardcover editions with these beautiful Vince Natale covers. What you think of the Queen’s Thief covers and everything else that Vince shared with us?

35 thoughts on “Queen’s Thief Week: Guest Post by Vince Natale

  1. Loved seeing the sketches of the covers with the color notes. It was my favorite part of the interview — in the sketches how you can see the balance and light of dark. If I could do anything I’d love to sit and watch a process from start to finish. Just to observe. Including seeing the back and forth with publishers, the notes, all the correspondence in between. That embroidered coat would’ve been really awesome to see come to fruition, too!

    • Thank you so much for helping me out with the questions, my dear! I love the sketches that Vince sent too. I agree with what you said, it would be great if we could watch the whole process from start to finish, including the comments from publishers/authors and the changes that illustrators make as they go along. I would love to see a final, colored version of that last sketch!

  2. Great questions, Capillya and Chachic. I always enjoy hearing more about the cover illustrating process. Those sketches would make great postcards. πŸ™‚ But mostly I love when details from the story are included. The covers reflect the series well.

    • The sketches, the artwork without the title, the covers themselves – all of these would make wonderful postcards. πŸ™‚ Yes, I love how the covers include details from the story, not like other book covers where the design has nothing to do with the book’s contents. I remember when I first saw the QoA cover, I didn’t even realize what she was holding until after I finished the book.

    • The one where he looks out the window? Love that too. But the last one is a winner, I think the details on that embroidered coat and on that sword would have stood out.

  3. I have seen these on Sounis thank to Deirdrej, but every time I see them I think, Wow…that man is sooo talented!!

    THank you for sharing!

    • I got the idea of inviting Vince Natale for a guest post on the blog because of his concept art that got posted in Sounis. The ones over there are more detailed but I like his answers to the interview questions, it’s like we got a peak into the whole process.

  4. I think this is one of my favorite posts from this week.:) That last sketch would’ve been a great cover, I think. But in any case, I love all of the covers.

    I’m with you on the matching hardcover editions. I really really hope they will re-release the first two books with these covers.:)

    • It’s certainly different from all the other posts. πŸ˜› Maybe they’d release matching hardcovers of all the books once the series is finished. We just need to wait several years before that happens! I want a boxed set with Vince Natale hardcovers.

  5. Just wanted to say the covers are beautiful & to also thank you for hosting this wonderful week! I first heard about it from Angie of Angieville & had never read the books. I read The Thief on my Kindle and have requested the others from my library. I can’t wait to read the others & am so glad there are more to be released!

    The covers are so lovely that I think at some point I will invest in owning the books. I hate it when you find a great book & the cover stinks so much you don’t even want it on your shelf. That is definitely not the case with these!

    • Thanks for dropping by to check out Queen’s Thief Week, Meg! I hope you get to read the other books soon. I have a feeling you’re going to love them.

      Yes, it’s frustrating when you fall in love with a book but it doesn’t have a nice cover. I don’t base my reading choices on book covers but it does matter! It makes me happy to read a book with a pretty cover.

  6. I loved this post! These have been some of my favorite covers, and reading about the creative process behind them was wonderful. I too am a big fan of the contrast between the intricate detail work/facial anonymity of the covers. While MWT does describe her characters, she doesn’t do so to the point that it takes away the reader’s ability to imagine what they want. These covers support that totally, and I love them. I totally GoodReads stalked his other cover work. πŸ˜›

    • I love the focus on the hands. I told him in my email that I think Attolia’s hands look elegant and beautiful in the covers. I agree with what you said, I like that the partial faces of the covers only give us a vague idea of what the characters look like. It’s still up to us to imagine how they really look like.

  7. I love Vince Natale’s work. It was a lucky day when Greenwillow asked him to do the art for my books. And yes, that last sketch is so beautiful . . . it makes me want to right a whole ‘nother book to go with it.

    • . . it makes me want to right a whole β€˜nother book to go with it.

      You know….that’s an excellent idea!!!! πŸ˜€

    • Vince Natale did a splendid job in designing these covers. Yes, please write a new book to go with that wonderful sketch. Or maybe even a short story? πŸ˜› We’d be happy with anything.

  8. Thanks for yet another lovely post!

    I love the cover for King best–how Irene’s hand is at one and the same time give an impression of heavy weight (the burden of being king), and a sense of comforting security.

    • The KoA cover is probably my favorite as well, it has so many nuances in it and I feel like it’s an excellent representation of the story inside. I love the matching rings that they’re wearing. Oh hey, just realized that all of the covers (aside from The Thief) have rings in them.

    • how Irene’s hand is at one and the same time give an impression of heavy weight (the burden of being king), and a sense of comforting security.

      Yes! All of them are wonderful, but that’s so perfect.

  9. This post is awesome! It was brilliant to include Vince Natale in your QT’s week and I’m so glad he contributed. It was his beautiful cover for KoA that alerted me to the series when it caught my eye on Amazon. Fateful day!

    I also love the focus on hands instead of faces. As an artist I find the complexity of the hands much more meaningful, and as a reader I like that I’m able to keep their faces as I see them in my imagination. Bravo!

    • Oooh you discovered the series because of KoA’s gorgeous cover? That’s nice! Glad to know that these covers are convincing readers to pick up the books. Thank you, Greenwillow, for publishing matching covers for the series. I’m so glad Vince Natale said yes, I actually felt bad that I kept bugging him about a post but I really wanted to include his work in Queen’s Thief Week.

  10. Wow, this was wonderful! I dearly love the Conspiracy of Kings cover, but boy would I love to see a finished version of Sophos in the embroidered coat. I’m so glad that Greenwillow saw to it that the books have such lovely, lovely covers.

    • I wonder if the embroidered coat would have been red as well in that last photo? Yeah, I love all of the covers but it’s nice to know the other options for the cover. Yes, we should all thank Greenwillow for giving us lovely, matching covers. Now they only need to release matching hardcovers. πŸ˜›

  11. Pingback: Queen’s Thief Week: Giveaway Winner and Wrap-Up | Chachic's Book Nook

  12. I love the fact that even though the cover of the fourth book wasn’t his favoured sketch the artist still managed to suggest by the way he uses the light that the reader should look at the ring on the hand of the rider and his very intricately embroidered tunic.
    So the cover is connected to the others via the embroidery, the hands and the ring after all ^^.

    • I know, I love how he managed to tie all of the covers together. In one of my replies above, I pointed out my realization that all of the covers, except for the first one, have rings in them. Well, Gen can’t have a ring in the first book, he’s a dirty little thief in that one. But the cover of The Thief focuses on the hands, just like all of the other covers.

      • Oh, I don’t really mind…I was just amused given the whole dust-up at the time. I don’t really mean dust-up, but I can’t think of the right word.

        Anyway, I love the concept art, as well as the finished pieces. So glad we have him as the cover artist!

  13. Pingback: Top Ten Favorite Book Covers Of Books I’ve Read | Chachic's Book Nook

  14. Pingback: Breaking News: Queen’s Thief Series by Megan Whalen Turner | Chachic's Book Nook

  15. Pingback: Breaking News: Queen’s Thief Series by Megan Whalen Turner | Chachic's Book Nook

  16. Pingback: 5Fave Book Covers: Month of March | Dreaming of Espresso

  17. Pingback: Queen’s Thief News: Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner | Chachic's Book Nook

Comments are like chocolate. :) Maraming salamat / thank you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.