Thursday, February 18, 2010

Who’s awesome? Or, Credit the Artists!

Lou Anders started to make some noise, via Twitter, against authors and publishers who put up “Look at my cover! Isn’t it the awesome!?” posts without crediting, you know, the artist.

I have to admit, I shook off the issue as a typical oversight. I remember being upset that Amazon, and other online retailers, didn’t credit the artists — information easily obtained while browsing a a physical store — and there was nothing to be done about that....I guess, I came to expect it from others as well.

But, with Lou’s rallying call in the back of my mind, last week’s Scholastic post on their Mockingjay cover has pushed me into the gently irate crowd. Scholastic posted an article excitedly revealing the cover to a popular series, along with the a refresher on how great the full series looks, without a single mention of the artist or designer. This is from the publisher, not from an author who might be far enough removed from the process not to know better. Just to reiterate, the post is about the cover.

Which is not to pick on Scholastic, it happens all the time. So, dear authors & publishers, when pimping a cover, name names!

Art Departments are constantly being told how important it is to get the cover right. Credit those whose talent, creativity, and hard work get the job done. Turn it into a marketing point. Like writers, artists' careers are built on past success. The more attention paid to good work, the more jobs they get...advancing their worth to me as an art director. Whelan, Donato, Martiniere, these guys are valuable first and foremost because they are good at what they do...but they are also “names” in the field and that furthers our marketing efforts.

Besides, it’s the polite thing to do.

Oh, and: Hey, Tim O’Brien, great series of covers!
Tim’s website, blog, “making of” the first Hunger Games cover


David Niall Wilson said...

I'm pretty careful to credit my cover artists one way or another...Amazon doesn't let you list a cover artist, but when you do (for instance) a Kindle version you have ILLUSTRATOR as an option. I use that. I even created a website for one of my recurring cover artists...

I understand their pain. The second book of my Grails Covenant Trilogy came out ... WITHOUT MY NAME ON THE COVER. And that was a fairly major publisher. They never fixed it, so it was like "Hey, look at my great book" and people saying, "if it's yours, how com your name isn't on it?"

Kristina Carroll said...

Beautiful covers indeed!

You know, at the risk of sounding like a brown-noser, I am constantly mentioning how lucky us artists are right now to have such a great handful of influential art directors that appreciate the craft so. I mean, this gig is HARD enough as it is, but knowing there are the few who really appreciate and support us is such a comfort.

Thanks for going to bat for the art Irene!

John Picacio said...


Times 1000.

These aren't the easiest days for publishing as a whole, and artists' credits don't cost publishers extra money, they're easy to do, and can help them sell more books. It just makes good business sense, if nothing else. What's not to love? :)

ces said...

And publishers - in addition to crediting the artist on the book cover, magazine cover, etc - please make sure that the artist you credit on the cover is the artist who did the cover. I still remember congratulating Martiniere on a cover he didn't do - but the book listed him as the artist.

Oh one last gripe - don't put those vertical scanning lines in a position that entirely covers or partially covers the artist's name!

BTW - I recently saw a book where the publisher put a beautiful "box" around the artist's name. Wonderful! The artist's name didn't get lost in the noise.

And thank you Irene for your advocacy! Please tell everyone in the business that you know!

Lou Anders said...

The original Scholastic post now shows 39 separate blog posts linking back to it. That's an incredible amount of love/attention they've garnered just for the artwork, and an incredible amount of credit/attention they could have brought for the artist had they bothered.

Jeff said...

Regardless of the adage, books ARE judged by their covers. That's what hooks people first, pulls them from across the aisle to pick up THAT book.

I'm not biased...not-at-all.

Unknown said...

Agreed! Wholeheartedly. It's almost in the same unfortunate realm as a book without an artist/designer listed on the back/interior jacket flap. Which, sadly, I've seen from major houses in major bookstores. I've even seen some where they don't even bother on the colophon. WTF?, I say. These people help sell your books, give 'em credit.

I did a children's book last year where they didn't even LIST me on the book anywhere. I was mildly irate.

Anonymous said...

Sort of ironic, considering that Tim is married to an Art Director for that same company.

fuentism said...

This post reminds me of years ago, when Loren Long illustrated one of the picture books Madonna did. She went on Jay Leno to promote it, and since Jay loved the artwork so much she brought him a print of one of the spreads as a gift. They did a close-up of it and everything. This went on forever in TV time but not once did anyone mention the artist's name. So frustrating!

Irene Gallo said...

Feuntism: I know! That was the height of egoism. No one could have billing with Madonna? Were we supposed to think she did the paintings?

And they had an amazing line-up of artists on those. I hope they all get paid enough to keep their names off.

In contrast - John Lithgow gushed over Chris Payne.

The Art of Kim Kincaid said...

I completely agree with you Irene. I spent an hour online trying to find the name of the artist for The Midnight Chapter (US cover) with no success. I don't understand why Amazon doesn't put it right next to the author's name or why the publisher's web site doesn't list the cover artists for each country's version. Very frustrating for all concerned but especially for the artist.

Glendon Mellow said...

Terrific post, Irene, and great for Lou Anders to raise the issue once more. I agree with Kristina Carroll above, thanks for going to bat for the art!

Earlier this year I tried my hand at creating a blog award-meme called the Image-Citation Citation. Far too few bloggers acknowledge those who make the images that enhance their posts, and I hoped might be an effective nifty way to encourage awareness.