Being able to commission illustration depicting rich and lush fantasy is a real joy. The costuming and settings described are usually extremely visual and are wonderful starting points for the artist. Fantasy art can be like building a whole new world, whereas science fiction art tends to be slightly more on the conceptual side or pushing the contrasts of the scale of things.
The omnibus project for Philippa Ballantine's Book of the Order series was exactly this type of fantasy cover. My initial action was to contact Jason Chan, the illustrator of the trade version of the individual books. My intent was to not break continuity in the look of the series. Unfortunately, Jason was unavailable to our schedule but, he was gracious enough to make a suggestion: Karla Ortiz.
I had never worked with Karla before and knew very little of her work. I had seen some of her work years ago on a collaborative blog which was most likely the reason I couldn't recall a name. I don't usually work with someone who I am not familiar with. In fact, this has only happened twice. But both times, the quality seen in the portfolio of the suggested artist supported the advice. It goes without saying that I valued the opinion of the suggester to begin with.
Working with Karla is what I love about what I do. I shared some brief suggestions with her and she provided me with small glimpses into this world. As an artist for a gaming company, she understood the need for continuity in the look and feel of the series. While her initial sketch was rough, it provided just enough information about lighting, setting, characters, etc.
Of course, her stunning final is something you just want to stare at and absorb. Choosing to widen the illustration was a good move if only to satisfy the viewer's urge to look beyond in an attempt to see further into this new world.
Remember Karla's name. I predict a long and successful career. Visit her website at karlaortizart.com Karla tells me a new, updated, fancy website is in the works for a Feb. 2013 launch. Of course, for more recent work and updates visit her blog: Karla Ortiz.
Labels: art, Art Director, book, book jacket, design, digital, digital painting, fantasy, figure, illustration, process, Science Fiction, Science Fiction Book Club, SFBC