Working with artists on covers is one of my favorite kinds of collaboration (full disclosure: I don’t do many collaborations; rather a lone wolf usually). I’ve been fortunate enough to have a say in nearly all of my books—whether that be overall cover concept, choosing artists and/or commissioning work.
The last three projects have had excellent covers. For Blueprints for Better Worlds, Reid Jenkins took a step away from his own style to create a piece that aligned with the themes and ethos of the book, proving himself (as if proof was needed) a versatile and accommodating artist. Nettrice Gaskins knocked it out of the park with Broken Fevers. Bill Campbell who heads up Rosarium Publishing ran the potential artists by me and everyone he chose was outstanding. Nettrice’s final cover radiates when you see it in person or onscreen (her work with light in digital art is second to none). You’d be wise to check out her other work and the theory behind it as well.
This week, I revealed the cover of my upcoming fiction album, Frequencies. I commissioned the piece from Kelly U. Johnson, whose work, especially that depicting Black women, always compels me. Over the years, I’ve been lucky to see her work in many forms— solar prints, pencil sketches, acrylic paints and oil pastels—and it never disappoints. This piece though is a favorite: the depth and definition, the way she sees you while you see her.
I get to be doubly proud of this one because Kelly is my sister. It imparts an extra layer of meaning for me, and given that this particular project brings together more than one of my loves I couldn’t be more pleased to share it.
Tenea D. Johnson