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?