By The Cover

John Jude Palencar

They say don’t judge a book by its cover. I can’t say I’m one to hold to such philosophy because in all honesty, it’s the cover that often catches my attention, that is, when it comes to actual books.

Book cover art and illustration has a lot to do with my childhood interests in art and has stayed with me even ’til now. While daydreams of seeing my work in galleries, on the walls of collectors and in magazines are delightful and inspiring, I’ve always wanted to walk into a bookstore and see my work on the covers of books, particularly of the scifi, fantasy and speculative fiction genre but I’m open to any genre if my work fits.

 Yesterday I made a visit to my local Barnes & Noble and took pleasure in indulging in one of my old past times; cruising the shelves just looking at cover art. 

I’m a big scifi & fantasy fan so that’s where I headed. I used to be into novels such as the works of Ursula Le Guin, Storm Constantine, Octavia Butler, Tanith Lee and Charles De Lint. But over the years I’ve become short on time and find myself less able to commit to a full novel. Now I just opt for short stories for reading or watch a movie. It’s not often that I buy, let alone sit down and read a novel nowadays. Hopefully that will change in the future. 

When it comes to cover art though, I feel that scifi & fantasy has some of the best work particularly in the area of traditional art. I pay attention to cover art so much that I’m now at the point where I can look at a book cover and immediately know who the artist is. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a wide range of varying styles and I’m seeing more of the same artist’s work on various books. This makes me wonder, are there fewer traditional artists being employed by publishing companies? A lot of cover art now appears to be a mix of design and digital artistry. Not that anything is wrong with that. I myself have a background in digital art, which has its own beauty, uniqueness and skill. But as someone who likes traditional art more, I am drawn to art and illustration that has more of a look and feel of being created through traditional mediums and it saddens me to think traditional arts are being eclipsed by the convenience and speed of digital art that in some ways lack the distinctiveness of the traditional.

Below are a few snapshots along with examples of a few artists whose art caught my eye while visiting B&N. You can see more work by each artist at the links provided.

Magdalena Korzeniewska is an illustrator from Poland whose gel pen drawings are inspired by the world of literature, legends and fairy tales.

Travis Louie is a New York based artist who creates paintings of portraits of mythical beings and human oddities based in Victorian and Edwardian times.


Sam Wolfe Connelly is a New York based artist whose works are ethereal, emotive, haunting and quietly evil.

Tommy Arnold is an illustrator whose art has the feel of atmosphere and action. You can find his work gracing the publications of Tor, Orbit and Wizards of the Coast books.