When I saw my Lakeside Reunion cover for the first time, I cried. The simplicity and beauty of the scene on the cover exemplified the promise of hope. I emailed my editor and asked who designed my cover so I could thank the person. She replied and said the talented cover artist was Judy York. I had the pleasure of meeting Judy via email and asked her a series of questions about her profession.
How long have you been doing cover art for Harlequin?
For 15-20 years.
How did you get your start?
After attending Pratt Art Institute, I put together a portfolio and showed it to a number of artists’ representatives. One decided to take me on, which sums up a very difficult and frustrating time quite neatly.
Is your work exclusive to Love Inspired?
No, I’ve created cover art for a variety of Harlequin imprints. I also work for many other publishing houses.
Describe a typical work day for you.
Wake up, grab coffee, plunk down at the computer, grab lunch, plunk down … not very interesting, I’m afraid. Photo shoots are more fun to talk about, but they’re only a small part of the process.
Harlequin authors submit art fact sheets and fill out character/scene information. How do you decide what should go on the cover? Also, do you read any of the manuscript to get a feel for the tone of the story?
For Harlequin jobs, the art director usually gives me the cover layout as well as the fact sheet. I create a scene to match the layout and make my models look as much like the characters as possible. Artists are given manuscripts and asked to come up with concepts more often in science fiction and fantasy than in romance.
Are covers computer-generated (Photoshop), done with live photo shoots, or hand painted?
I work digitally now, though for years I worked in oils. Actually, it creates the wrong impression to say that covers are “computer generated” — I think of my computer as a sort of super-paintbrush, and I’m the one who does the generating with it! Live photo shoots are necessary reference for figurative covers, whether they’re done digitally or at the easel.
What determines if people go on the cover?
The art director makes that decision.
How long is the process for creating a cover?
That depends on the complexity of the concept. The research phase can be quite time-consuming, and sometimes jobs can take a great deal longer than you expect.
What are some of the other covers you’ve designed?
Please visit my website. Book titles are attached to all the pop-ups.
Judy, thank you for sharing about cover design and your work!