Saturday, March 8, 2014
This week our historical detective thriller Diary of Young Justice Bao has a new cover, thanks to designer Verónica Martínez. She also created the amazing cover for Ghostly (check out a seriously cool review) and you can read more about her here.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
The Matlock Stone team: Gan, Yi-Xuan, Kaier, and Hann Li
Well, I finally managed to put this post together to introduce the fantastic people behind this.
Sherlock Hong and the Secret City is our collaboration with Matlock Stone, a Singapore-based company that develops entertainment content for different platforms, from movies to comics. They have offices in Beijing and Los Angeles too, and they're really serious about getting this out to the world.
We had a great time brainstorming ideas for this project, and coming up with different plot twists. If everything goes well, you'll hear more about this later this year. Meanwhile, I'm pleased to feature two of our collaborators here. They'll tell you more about the origins of this project, and our plans ahead.
As Sherlock Hong would say, "The future belongs to the young and brave!"
MEET HANN LI AND GAN FROM MATLOCK STONE
Our readers are curious: who are you and what do you do?
HANN LI: My name is Hann Li, I’m from Singapore, and I’m the Project Director for Matlock Stone. We’re a creative production company that specialises in creating and developing Asian-inspired entertainment content for global audiences across multiple platforms from books, film, TV to digital and mobile. "Sherlock Hong and the Secret City" is our recent collaboration with Don Bosco and Super Cool Books to develop a story that is rooted in Asian history and culture, but at the same time, has a universal appeal to it.
GAN: My name is Gan, I'm from Malaysia and I'm the Visual Director for Matlock Stone.
Your Sherlock Hong concept art is incredibly cool! How much work went into this?
G: For this Sherlock Hong story, Don envisioned a steampunk setup and I thought that was a really cool idea. The basic concept was that Sherlock Hong lives in the 19th century where the world is powered by steam engines, and opium trade by the British Empire is thriving. With this, I visualized Sherlock Hong's city as a vibrant seaport like Singapore, where East and West collide to barter and trade for goods and services. Trade would not only bring cargo, coolies and merchants, but also bold new ideas and ambitious visions of the future. I envisioned a boomtown thriving with opportunity seekers - bandits, opium gangsters, loan sharks - and also ambitious inventors with wild ideas of industrialization, desperately seeking the attention of business tycoons. This would be a dynamic, fast-paced and bustling city. As such, Sherlock Hong would need a cool vehicle to get around with, and what is cooler then a steam-powered reverse trike?
H: Gan is an awesome illustrator, so I pretty gave him free reign to do whatever he wanted with the cover art. But we did have a brief discussion beforehand, and in addition to the strong historical and cultural element we wanted to present with the character of Sherlock Hong, we also wanted to give him a unique, cool and edgy look that kids these days would appreciate. Our idea was to fuse cultural elements of both east and west, but at the same time make him look like a modern-day young hero.
G: Many stories has been told about the 19th century, where the West is overtaking the East to become the superpower of the world in the wake of industrialisation. There are a lot of stories to tell from an Asian perspective without Asians being the victim (like in "Ip Man" or "Wong Fei Hong"). It can be less political and more optimistic, focusing more on the exciting age of invention, rather than a series of unfortunate events in Asian history. We need a balanced view on Asian history, and not solely focus on the victimisation of Asia by the West.
H: Adding on to what Gan says, there is a significant lack of young Asian heroes in children’s fiction. In the ‘young detective’ genre you have popular characters such as The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, the Famous Five, among several others. We believe that Sherlock Hong, as an Asian character, is a strong addition to the pantheon of young detectives in children’s fiction. But more then just being an Asian character, there is a natural and universal appeal to Sherlock Hong that really drew us to him. He embodies characteristics that are both East and West with a global sensibility. In this age of globalization, this makes him a truly universal hero that anybody can connect with.
How does Matlock Stone plan to promote this project?
H: Matlock Stone has been looking to build a catalog of content dedicated to younger audiences, and Sherlock Hong fits perfectly with the type of stories we’re looking to tell. We aim to build a catalog of stories and characters that are Asian-inspired and rooted in Asian culture and mythology, but with an appeal that is universal. Sherlock Hong is an awesome character that we believe can reach out and connect with anybody whether from Asia or North America.
G: Matlock Stone has always been about telling Asian stories with a modern, updated twist and we think Sherlock Hong is a great concept and character.
Check out Matlock Stone's other projects at http://www.matlockstone.com
Monday, February 10, 2014
We don't ever quit! All day and all night we spend making super cool books for you!
As part of our big design makeover we're so excited to share the new cover for SCHOOL OF MAGICAL STORIES.
When we started out two years ago I wrote down everything I knew about creating thrilling fantasy stories so I could share these secrets of the craft with my two sons. Just in case, you know, if something should happen to me they would still be able to keep the stories going.
But along the way I met so many other people who had the same passion for telling imaginative stories and they wanted to write their own books too. So I packaged it all into a set of lessons and made this available as an ebook, and also through our Super Cool Books iPad app.
This new book cover for SOMS was created by Portland-based designer Natalie Baker. I'll let her introduce herself in the interview below. How it started was that I checked out the graphics work she did for She Shreds, a fantastic indie magazine about women guitarists and bassists, and I thought it was so cool that just for a moment I wanted to drop everything and offer to go write for them.
To cut a long story short, Natalie agreed to help redesign our website banner, and after that she worked on this book cover that you see above. Now I can't wait to write more stories just to find out what other eye-popping designs she'll whip up for us!
Here's a short interview below so you can get to know her too. Remember to check out her links at the end, and also the She Shreds website.
Have faith in what you love! Always!
MEET NATALIE BAKER
Hey, awesome designer!
Hey, my name's Natalie Baker. I'm a freelance graphic designer and marketing strategist based in Portland, Oregon. In addition to my freelance profession, I also help run She Shreds, the world's only print magazine dedicated to women guitarists.
Went to school or self taught?
I started out as a digital photographer, which required me to begin learning Photoshop. Once I had some basic Photoshop knowledge, I started using the software to design basic flyers for student organizations at my college. Things just took off from there. I taught myself how to use all of the Adobe Creative Suite and started reading design books and taking night classes. My favorite kind of design work is helping people modernize and reconceptualize their old designs, like the new banner on the Super Cool Books site. It's just really satisfying to see the before and after effect.
Thanks for asking! She Shreds is the world's only print magazine dedicated to women guitarists and bassists. My friend started the magazine because she was tired of mainstream magazines like Guitar World not representing any of the women who contribute to the music industry, and the response so far has been incredible! We've been around for about 1.5 years and are growing quickly. You can check us out at www.sheshredsmag.com
When you shop for books, what catches your eye?
I think a good book cover aesthetically represents what the reader will be taking away from the book, be it an emotion, experience, or lesson. To not only look good, but really fit. I guess that's what any good design does! When I shop for books, I'm a sucker for really minimalist, dramatic design--especially crazy hand-lettering. Anything by Leanne Shapton, for example.
How can our readers find you?
My portfolio is at https://www.behance.net/nataliebaker and I welcome Twitter followers at @nataliebakerrr
Friday, February 7, 2014
Our design makeover continues! Here's the new cover we just completed, for THOR THE GREATEST. A big thank you to our designer Lily for coming up with all the different options to get us started. Lily does great photo-manipulation work, and if you look closely you'll see many of the story elements very subtly worked into the background. We managed to get Lily to answer some questions about herself and her work, and you'll find her links at the end if you're inspired to get in touch with her.
MEET LILIA DORMISHEVA
Please tell us about yourself!
My name is Lilia Dormisheva. I live in Bulgaria. Currently working as a salesperson in the field of cosmetics, and attending a driving course.
What was interesting about working on this cover?
I tried to put in something to set this apart from other book covers. Designing a book cover is an art and it is difficult to determine how it will be received.
What advice do you have for designing book covers?
Well, don't be afraid to try something new and put feeling in the cover, because we all know that a good cover is a form of advertising, and will get more people to read the book. Do not be afraid to experiment and do not forget to show the author many examples of your cover to choose from.
Check out Lily's links:
Monday, February 3, 2014
This design really captures everything that's great about the story: cool characters, a spirit of mystery and adventure, and also a nice sense of warmth and friendship as Zoe takes us with her on her urgent mission into an alternative realm to save her friends.
When I showed this cover around, everyone wanted to know more about the artist behind it. It's indeed a fascinating feat of photo-manipulation, combining images and textures and effects to put you in a wonderful mood to enjoy the book.
And so we're happy to introduce her here this week, Ms Verónica Martínez all the way from Argentina. We're so glad we had the chance to work with her on this, and you can bet there will be more magical covers to come.
You can check out her links at the end of the interview, and who knows, perhaps she can design your next book cover too. :)
Thank you, Verónica!
ENTER VERÓNICA MARTÍNEZ
Do introduce yourself!
My name is Verónica Martínez, I'm from Argentina. I'm a freelance designer, a teacher and a bookworm. I love Photoshop, photography, animals and Mexican food. I've been working with Photoshop since I had my first computer in 1996.
Your work is amazing! How did you get so good at photo-manipulation?
I discovered Photoshop about 18 years ago, during a boring summer vacation at home. I was a high school student at that time and we didn't have an Internet connection! (Sounds like the middle ages now). I spent many hours playing with photos and effect, and soon photo-manipulation become my new hobby. I started reading everything I could find about Photoshop, and learning all about this amazing tool. After some time all my friends gave me photos to manipulate and play with. I discovered that I enjoy making an idea came to life in a photo, and creating unreal magical worlds, or very creepy ones. About a year ago I started working as a freelancer because I noticed that there are jobs out there that need my skill set, and I'm very passionate about what I make.
What did you enjoy about working on this cover?
I like to choose the projects that I work on, and working with books is my favorite. First I read the story because all the concepts are drawn from the writing. I really enjoy making Ghostly's cover because I like the characters, and I can bring Zoe and Madam White Cat to life. Making the scenery on the other side of the portal was fun to do too.
Any advice for other designers who are making book covers?
In my opinion you must read the book. Every book is different, and you need to know the mood, the characters and the places to make the author's idea came through in a digital cover.
CHECK OUT VERÓNICA'S LINKS:
Deviantart site: http://varian.deviantart.com