Wednesday, September 5, 2018
I loved it, back in the seventies, when the spaceships were unusual shapes and bright colours against dramatic spacescapes. Chris Foss, who I was fortunate enough to meet a couple of years ago, soon became a favourite cover artist. I don't recall if I was aware of who he was, but I could easily recognise his work. Then there were other, more metaphoric designs for SF books. Some I loved, others I merely appreciated. Photographed covers have aged the worse. Even back then photos of model aliens or men in silver suits look dated. I seem to recall a photographed Stainless Steel Rat cover that was terrible.
So for me it was illustration, preferable paintings. Unfortunately for me, they seem to have died off as the primary source of cover art.
Recently I had a conversation with a writer who told me about the economics involved. It's cheaper to buy and crop stock artwork than commission new. It's even cheaper to buy digital manipulated pictures than buy paintings. And with the unrelenting tsunami of self published mediocrity, the standard of cover art has fallen even further.
I know graphic artists who are in competition with anyone who has access to Photoshop, regardless of the quality. New writers self publishing a story manipulate a couple of pictures, throw on text and away they go.
Here's a clue. Many of these look cheap and nasty and entice no one.
I really miss those painted covers. They had a quality missing in the digital age. I understand a painting is not going to be affordable, but at the very least hire someone trained in design to direct the art on the cover.
Me? Well, you'll find me over here gazing at my Asimov's and Harrison's and dreaming of yellow and black checked starships against enormous nebulae.