WG: Welcome and thanks for stepping into my spotlight this month. To start off, please tell us a bit about yourself.
VS: I am foremost a photographer with over 6 years shooting primarily people. I love faces and interactions and telling stories through images.
WG: Can you tell us why you decided to pursue a career as a cover designer and what steps you took to get you where you are today?
VS: I went to school to get a MFA in photography and during that time I was also producing book trailers for the big 6 houses. I fell into book covers kind of organically when a friend mentioned "Helllooo, your photos are already interesting enough, just put a title on it." I laughed but after doing hers and seeing the reaction and how much she said it helped her book I wanted to do more of it. And I LOVE IT! I love being creative with concepts and creating something that is striking and pretty or interesting to look at enough for someone to say, "Hey, I want to read this book!"
WG: Do you work with any publishing companies or do you solely work on self-published books?
VS: At the moment I work solely with self-published authors but have things in the works that will hopefully get me to work with publishers of all sorts.
WG: Do you have specific genres that you enjoy working on the most?
VS: I love fantasy and I love a good romance! I think with fantasy I can do more and go out and create concepts that are different and unexpected like Megan Duke's covers with the faces in water.
WG: Are there any genres that you will generally turn away?
VS: Suspense, maybe? I feel like those tend to be objects or landscapes/scenes? Or nonfiction… I haven't gotten any requests for nonfiction but I think I would want something that would let me be crazy and wild and do something fun!
WG: Are you actively seeking new clients?
VS: Always! As an author myself I know how important covers are as they are the first impression and a lot of time can make or break a book. I would love to help authors attain covers and cover art that is unique as their book and would make people stop and do a double take before they pick it up.
I also have a slew of stock images that I think would look great on some covers!
WG: What have been some of your favorite projects to work on?
VS: I worked with Geneva Lee on her first Royals series and we got SEXY! I mean some of the teaser images for it are downright naughty and fun! And of course I have fondness for Megan Duke's covers. But one of the latest covers I am dying to show off is for Annie Cosby's repackaging and oh my, those covers are moody, and beautiful and the couple is so swoony!
WG: When did you realize that you'd "made it"?
VS: I have worked with some great people in the past years but I don't think I'll ever feel like I made it. I think feeling like I can achieve more pushes me creatively and professionally.
WG: Have you ever considered penning a novel yourself?
VS: I actually do write and have a few manuscripts. Two YA, one which might be out later this year and one I am querying that not so ironically will feature multimedia in the form of photos and videos. I also have a swoony, sexy New Adult that came out last October, A Shot of Reckless, whose cover I designed as well and am super proud of.
WG: How would you describe your graphic design style?
VS: I like it clean both in photography and design. I want the focus to be on the cover art. Typography is so key in tying it all together and I am a font-a-holic. It gets me excited when I match the two up!
WG: What do you see as the main strength you personally bring to the table?
VS: Because of my background in fine art and someone who constantly peruses the internets for art and inspiration, I think I bring out-of-the-box ideas to the table. And because I photograph the covers I design, I like to push myself and make sure that I am not chasing behind what the big five publishers are doing but staying on point creatively and thinking what the market DOESN'T have as opposed to doing what it already has.
WG: If you could design a cover for any author, who would it be and why?
VS: Neil Gaiman, or for romance Colleen Hoover. I would love to work and create cover art for Harper Teen books because theirs are always so pretty and interesting.
WG: Is there a book cover that you absolutely love and wish you had designed?
VS: Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare. I dream of doing underwater photography one day and hers is so perfect.
WG: What advice do you have for someone who would like to get into freelance cover design?
VS: Practice, have fun, and look for what others don't do. Also, teach yourself one new thing every month.
WG: Do you have any tools or resources that you use on a regular basis?
VS: Photoshop is my bae. Seriously, it can do anything. Cliché answer, but true. Don't give me those knockoff wannabes.
WG: If you weren't a cover designer, what would you be?
VS: Photography and writing. I would love to find more ways to bridge the two because they are both ways of storytelling.
WG: What piece of advice or 'pearl of wisdom' would you like to offer authors who are looking for a cover designer?
VS: Be bold. Don't just do what others are doing. If you go for the different you'll stand out and isn't that what's most important in this industry? Also, quality of the art is so important. I can't tell you how many photos I've seen make it on covers that haven't been retouched. Your photographer should know how to edit a professional looking beauty shot even if they don't do as extensive a job on your images. If they can go all the way, you know you are in good hands.
WG: What sort of misconceptions/ unrealistic expectations have you encountered from authors about cover design that you would like to correct?
VS: It's always about turnaround time. "Can I have this tomorrow?" When in reality casting and shooting and editing and designing quality work sometimes takes at least a month if not longer.
WG: I love to collect quotes, all kinds of quotes - inspirational, quirky, motivational, profound, etc. Do you have a personal favorite you'd like to share?
VS: "Keep your eyes open. Listen. Follow your curiosity. Ideas are constantly trying to get our attention. Let them know you're available." Elizabeth Gilbert, BIG MAGIC. Amazing book and a quote that's kind of stuck with me lately. I think there's so much to learn and glean from the world around us and I had to force myself to admit that I have to leave work and go out and experience things and listen to people talk and just BE.
WG: If you were a color, which would you be and why?
VS: Lately my work has been in shades of purples. Go figure.
WG: What do you do to relax and have fun?
VS: Read. Go on walks. I love to travel and will be in some fun cities this spring like New Orleans, Chicago, and Savannah among others.
WG: What do you enjoy reading?
VS: I love a good swoony romance, and anything fantasy YA.
WG: What are your favorite movies and/or TV shows? Why?
VS: Just finished binge watching The Leftovers! OMG so good! But my #1 for 2015 was Jessica Jones! I watch a lot of TV while editing so my list is massive. Name it, I've probably watched it.
WG: Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on your life? In what way?
VS: Lately, BIG MAGIC by Elizabeth Gilbert. It's all about embracing your creativity. Before that, Austin Kleon's books on stealing art and showing art.
WG: Before we close, is there anything else you'd like to mention about yourself?
VS: I am thrilled to have been able to share a piece of myself with you all! Thank you!
WG: Is there a website you can point us to where folks can go to learn more about you?
VS: Of course. Folks can find most of my work on www.vlcphotoportfolio.com or on my Facebook page at VLC Productions which gets updated more often. Like daily. As well as my Instagram @VLC_Photo
WG: And finally, thanks again for taking some time to 'stop by' this month!