Abandoned Ship: Cover Art History

Hey everybody! I was just looking through my archives for the Abandoned Ship project, and I thought you might be interested in seeing the evolution of cover concepts from my own original cartoonish sketches to the concepts produced by professional cover artists.

(You can click on any of these to see an enlargement, or you can hover your mouse over them to figure out which is which, based on the numbering in my notes below.)

Fun facts:

  • Concept #1 was my original idea for the cover. I drew it myself in Adobe Illustrator. All of my friends said it looked like a teen romance novel, and they told me to hire a professional. So I did.
  • I hired a cover artist for $1000 who produced concepts 2 — 7. I was not impressed with any of them. At all. So I sent him back to the drawing board.
  • He came back with concepts 8 — 11. These were definitely an improvement over the first batch, but I still wasn’t in love with any of them. I asked him to focus on concept #9, and I gave him a long list of tweaks to make.
  • But in the mean time, I hired another designer. I just wasn’t confident that the first guy would hit the sweet spot, and I wanted some fresh ideas. The second designer produced concepts 12 — 15.
  • A lot of my friends give thumbs-up to concept #14 with the life jacket. And I agree; it’s a strong design. But ultimately, I decide to disqualify any cover without the truly iconic imagery of the capsized cruise ship. People have seen that image on the news. It’s an immediate attention grabber.
  • Meanwhile, I’ve made some refinements on my own original drawing. You can see it below as concept #16. My friends mostly still hate it. Oh well.
  • The second artist comes back to me with concepts 17 — 19, which use some of the same colors and textures as #14, but with the ship imagery instead of the life jacket. These are nice, but they still aren’t quite attention-grabbing enough for my taste.
  • The first artist finally returns with concept #20 (his refinement of concept #9). He only implemented about half the changes I asked for, and his graphics weren’t good enough quality for print, but he had the nerve to ask for $1250 instead of $1000 because of all the extra work I had asked him to do. I paid him, but I wasn’t happy about his work.
  • So I finished up the rest of the tweaks myself. His images were of such poor quality that I basically had to start from scratch, but by the time I finished working on concept #21, I was very happy with the result, and that’s the cover I ultimately used for publication.
  • But after a couple of months, the cover art was looking a little bit too drab, so I added a richer blue color to the water and created concept #22. That’s the cover I’m currently using.

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