Wednesday, October 30, 2013

4 Common Young Adult Fiction Cover Tropes or, tropie tropes of tropieness

A few months ago I participated in a cover design contest for Awoken by Serra Elinsen. The book is essentially a parody of novels staring supernatural killing machines as romantic interests. It's about Cthulhu reincarnated as a teenager and instead of choosing to spend his evil time bringing about the apocalypse, "sexily" stalks a girl instead.

The people hosting the contest, asked for the tropiest cover possible, so I headed down to the book store for inspiration. These are the tropes inspired me the most:

1. Girl in Flowing Dress Who Walks Away (and sometimes just sits there)
My favorite!
Girl In Flowing Dress is characterized by a someone who is supposedly the protagonist (though sometimes looks nothing like the character in the book) wearing a period ambiguous dress that is never worn or heard of in the text itself. Bonus points for wind blown hair, grungy photoshop filters, and gothness.

2. Off With Her Head!
Also apparently sexy backs with jeans are in...
Off With Her Head is characterized by a sexy lady (or dude) with the top of their head cut off. It can be inferred that the designer didn't want to overrule the reader's sense of the main character, so they conveniently cut their face off, but one starts to question whether it's really about hidden homicidal urges when half the books in the section feature headless people. Off With Her Head is closely related to...

3. Face Obscured by Kissing, Light Flare, or Shadow (and sometimes all three)
So dramatic! (I actually love SEND's cover)
Face Obscured is (in my humble opinion) a better choice, design wise, than Off With Her Head, because it allows placement of the face anywhere. The human eye is drawn to faces and where faces should be. This means the focal point of the cover isn't constantly the top edge. As you can see, this is one of the more successful tropes, in that the covers are still varied in content, color, and composition. Be careful, though, it walks the very fine line of dramatic and melodramatic.

4. Cropped (Sexy?) Body Parts
The Bookstore was nice enough to just go ahead and put these all on the same shelf, so I didn't even have to look!
Vague cropped body parts??? Sexy??? Yes cropped good!!..1??

My Tropetastic Cover:

✓Girl in Flowing Dress
✓Off With Her Head
✓Lens flare
✓Cropped Body Part

The contest was for comp sketches, and my plan was to photograph my gorgeous family if my piece was chosen. Sadly it was not. While on the level of tropiness with the finalist, it wasn't quite as rape-y as they wanted.

I had a good time thinking about tentacles and ridiculous typefaces, though.

Hilariously Melodramatic Bonus Covers:
AHahah. Angel on a motorcycle.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Women Painting Women or, That's Just my Resting Face

There is a movement spreading around the figurative art community. This movement explores whether women inherently paint women different than men paint women. It is titled, fittingly, Women Painting Women. There were a  bunch of gallery openings this fall, and there was much rejoicing!

While the Electric Keychain Collective aren't strictly painters, we certainly are all women so we joined in.

Self Portrait at Work, Aged 24 by Carly Strickland
"I was looking for a classical portrait pose like Artemisia Gentileschi's self portrait as an allegory of art, and the countless other paintings of artists at their easels. I tried to be as honest as possible, with the way I sit, and the way I dress when I work, my addiction to Diet Coke and Doctor Who. Though, in the spirit of honesty, my desk is not usually that clean. 
I know I look kind of intense, but that's just what my face does when I'm concentrating!"

Harassment by Julia Marshall
"I saw a young teenage girl walking home from school. Some men were making comments about her nonexistent boobs, but she couldn't hear them due to her giant adorable headphones. She was happy/in the zone. I thought the whole situation was very interesting, so I decided to illustrate it."
-Julia Marshall 

Amanita by Tati Dengo
"Here it is just plain and simple: I don’t like to draw people. The reasons are numerous and irrelevant, but eventually I just find ways of communicating “person” without actually having to draw one.
Shirley Jackson immediately stood out since her book, “We Have Always Lived in the Castle,” has this creepy little quote I’d always wanted to illustrate."
-Tati Dengo 
Read more about Women Painting Women on my blog

Women Painting Women Blog

Friday, October 18, 2013

Just in time for Halloween!

Sparkle-Free Halloween Giveaway

Enter to win one of fifty iBooks gift-codes for Say No to Sparkles as part of our All Hallow's Read scary-book giveaway. These codes work for the iBooks app on iPad and iPad mini (not iPhone, sorry).

Go here to enter.

Prizes will be awarded on October 26, 2013.