In conversation with... Cherie Chapman

Hi Cherie! Thank you for joining me today. I am the proud owner of the first two books in the Phobos trilogy, which you designed the covers for, and they look stunning on my shelves! But let’s begin… 

How did you get started in this field?

A: No worries, Silvia, and thank you for loving the covers! I always knew I wanted to do something creative but never what to specialise in. I went to University and did a Graphic Design course. In my first year it allowed me to try a mixture of Graphic Design, Animation, Photography, Publishing and Illustration and I ended up specialising in Graphic Design. It wasn’t until after I graduated and did a few work placements within the designing industries, that I knew for sure I wanted to get into publishing, especially fiction book cover design. I landed my first job at Hodder and Stoughton as a junior, then I went on to be a designer at HarperCollins, then finally at Bonnier Zaffre. I’ve now been a freelance designer for the last four months.

Can you describe the process of designing these two covers? 

A: At first, I normally receive a brief from the editor, giving me an outline of what they could be after, the competition and the market they are aiming to attract. I do some picture research, sketch down rough ideas and read the manuscript to start gathering possible routes of how I can approach the cover. In this case, I knew I was designing a trilogy, so I had to think of a design layout which could work across all three. In the end, I found some nice stock images to be the centre icon. The first icon represents a camera lens and technology. The scond one represents the couples in chaos, spiralling out of control. The third is like a planet shape exploding, showing the dramatic story of these contestants. Having them against a space background, I chose neon type to tie in with the reality TV side of the story. I also used Larry Rostant’s imagery of Leonor (from the French covers) and made them into silhouettes. (I’ve only read the first book but I’m wanting to complete the trilogy now.)

If you have seen them, what do you think of the book covers of the original French editions?

A: I have seen the French editions, they are nice covers. Unfortunately they wouldn’t have done so well within the UK market. That’s where I come in and give them new covers.

Did you have any contact with or input from the author? If that is not the norm, would you find it helpful or more limiting?

A: I don’t have direct contact with the author, that is all done via the editor. However, we do have input from the authors on the visuals. I do find it helpful,.Victor gave me some ideas to consider and some great visual references from the book and loved the covers! My sole aim it to make the author happy, which in return makes me a happy designer.

What makes a successful book cover design?

A: In my own opinion, it comes down to all the elements working together as a whole. Meaning the type and imagery working as one, rather than being an afterthought. Having a cover which stands out from the competition of 100 other books. Helping the sales improve or even getting it as far as entering the bestseller ranks. It’s always great seeing people reading the book you designed or them instagramming the cover. It’s always nice to see people appreciate it. 

What are you working on at the moment? 

A: I’m currently working on a YA, crime and women fiction title. Sorry I can’t give much details about the projects. Not until the cover has been revealed!

What are you reading at the moment?

A: I’m not currently reading anything, been too busy designing them (catching up with TV shows and walking my puppy). The last book I did read, which I absolutely loved, is ‘Iron Gold’ by Pierce Brown.

Is there one type of fiction that you prefer designing covers for? Does this reflect your preference as a reader?

A: I would say this is true, as I do love designing and reading YA, crime, fantasy and horror.

Many thanks for your time!
Distortion is currently on my TBR pile but you can read my thoughts on Ascension here and an interview with the translator of the series here. Enjoy!

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