We conducted an interview with Hema Saramma Varghese, the Freelance Book Cover Designer and Illustrator who works with us at Pothi.com and has been designing covers with us for around nine years. She has done her MCA from MK University, Tamil Nadu. She lives in Trivandrum, Kerala, with her husband and daughter. Her passions include photography, visiting art exhibitions and experimenting with new handmade craftworks. She loves to watch old classic movies. You can check out her FB feed here: www.facebook.com/revivedesigns.in
Describe the cover creation process in brief. What are the parameters you look at before starting and how do you go about it?
Most authors either call me up or maybe send me a short synopsis of the book they have written. They even send me their ideas of what they expect their cover to look like. If the idea is pretty complicated, then sometimes I need to step into their shoes and imagine what they are visualizing. Perspective is one parameter that I look into before I start with any complicated cover design work.
Sometimes the thoughts of an author can go pretty much overboard. They conceptualize a lot of stuff on their cover which don’t make a good fir aesthetically speaking. A bold and a specific theme that goes along with their writing is another parameter that I look into while creating cover design.
The last but not least parameter includes the colors which give an overall feel of the book for a specific genre. But then sometimes, in the end, the colors are always left to the author’s discretion.
How many revisions does a cover typically go through?
A maximum of 3 revisions.
Why is cover design important? Your message to writers and potential cover creators.
Recently I read in a magazine that a cover design is like a 3-second ad and every writer needs a design that can catch the attention of the readers.
Well, I am a lover of art. When I was a young child, I had a library full of books published by Ladybird (A London-based publisher, now a part of Penguin publishers). There was one book that I read and I never liked its story. But I never gave the book to anyone because I loved its cover design. Everytime I held the book, I spent more time looking at the design. After many years I realized that cover design is a unique art.
My message to all potential writers and all writers who have not seen a breakthrough with all their writings is to Never separate creativity and writing. Both need each other just like a soul needs a heart and a heart needs a soul. Your creative idea for your cover design can speak more volumes than all the words you may have written in your book.
And to all potential cover creators, learn to respect the author’s ideas. Learn to implement it and learn to give. Ultimately this will help you to grow not only professionally but even on a personal level.
How did you get into cover designing?
After completing my Masters in Computer Applications from MK University, I got married and settled in Bangalore. I didn’t find any life in programming and instead I enjoyed doodling a lot. I created a portfolio of art works and then mailed it to all the well-known advertising agencies in Bangalore. My works were noticed and thus I got a job as as a junior graphic designer in a graphic design firm. My first book cover design work was a handbook about a school festival from a reputed school in Bangalore.
That’s how I got into cover designing.
Who is your inspiration when it comes to art/cover design?
I pick up inspiration from books, newspapers, film posters and even art exhibitions. Even nature is a great inspiration for me to do a cover design project.
Which cover that you have designed are you the proudest of?
The Legend of Amarapali by Anurag Anand – a woman oriented historical fiction book.
You also create infographics and comics at InstaScribe. Tell us about the experience.
As a graphic designer, I love comics more than Infographics. On a professional level, learning to create comics is a challenging experience, especially when I need to create comics as per other people’s ideas. But then this helps me a lot in my visualization and illustration skills.
Some links to Infographics and Illustrations Sara has worked on at InstaScribe here:
You’re a freelance cover designer based in Trivandrum. Tell us what you do when you don’t design covers and create graphic art.
Other than doing my usual household chores, I keep updating myself with new graphic design trends or participate in workshops where new handmade craft works are taught.
Do you have any advice for cover designers who are starting out- any software they should know or courses they should be doing?
Listen and learn about the author’s ideas and give as per the author’s requirement. Adobe Photoshop or any other image editing softwares will be the best software to start out with.
Thanks Sara! Was a pleasure talking to you.