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Interview: Amy Saidens

September 30th, 2006 (11:51 am)
optimistic

Current Mood: optimistic
Current Song: A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes by Ilene Woods Cinderella

A person should never judge a book by its cover. However, you can't deny that the Simon Pulse romantic comedies have incredibly cute covers - all of which have been created by artist Amy Saidens.

The original hardcover of The V Club by Kate Brian featured a piece which you'd originally drawn for yourself. How did the publisher 'discover' and option your art? Was that the first time your work had been on the cover of a book?

Wow, you've done your homework! Yes, it was originally just a piece for a promo card, though I never ended up using it for that. I had it posted in my portfolio on www.theispot.com, and the designer from Simon and Schuster found it there and said it was perfect for the cover of The V Club. It wasn't my first book cover (though a similar situation did occur for that, actually). The funny thing is that at the time, I was working with another designer at S+S on a cover for Simon Pulse (one of the romantic comedies) and a different designer, I think within the same department, found the V Club cover image.

How did you get involved with the Simon Pulse romantic comedies? When did you know you'd be the cover artist for the entire line?

There were 2 to start. I knew that there would be a series but didn't know how many books there would be. I think at this point I've done 18! It's a fun series and I hope it continues.

Your artwork has also been featured in many magazines, such as Twist and Lucky. How many of your pieces are tailor-made for specific books and articles?

Most of them are, actually. It's a bonus when I get time to do something on my own, and an even greater bonus if someone decides to put it on a book cover or some place else.

Along the same lines, do you get to read the books while working on the sketches, or do you only get a vague outline of the plot?

There's often not a whole lot of time to read the entire book, so an outline is usually enough. I like when the editors pull passages that can give a good sense of whoever the main characters are, or if the author writes a blurb about the characters for me to refer to. I need more than just a physical description -- it's nice to know *who* these people are.

How involved are the authors and editors with the cover process?

It really depends on the publisher, and the book. With most books I've had no direct communication with the author or the editor -- everything is done through the art department. But in-house, there may be a lot of back and forth between editors and authors, and then back to me via the designer.

What is your newest project?

I'm currently working on a cookbook with Running Press, and 3 sticker books that I did earlier this year should be in stores very soon. The sticker books ("Ballerina Girl", "Party Girl" and"Surfer Girl") are my first foray into children's illustration, so I'm curious to see where that might take me.

What are the tools of your trade? How do you create your art?

It's all done digitally. I use a wacom tablet and draw all my "sketches" in Photoshop, and then import them into Illustrator when it's time for final. I never thought I'd be working on a computer (I majored in painting!) but now I can barely imagine working any other way, at least not for clients. I do miss the tactile experience I used to have with paint and collage, but working digitally allows so many advantages, especially with last minute rush projects and revisions. It's a great thing.

To see more of Amy's artwork, please view amysaidens.com