I’ve been looking forward to posting this interview for a few weeks now. It was an absolute delight to work with talented illustrator Karen Vaughan on the cover of Malcolm Orange Disappears. Karen was incredibly gracious in listening to my suggestions and immediately understood the concept of the novel. What she came up with has been garnering compliments from everyone I’ve showed it to since the first image came through. Karen has also done a wonderful job on fellow Liberties writers, Daniel Seery’s A Model Partner, and Moyra Donaldson’s beautiful new poetry collection, The Goose Tree. Karen’s answered some of my questions below and I’ve included a few of her gorgeous illustrations here. Please check out her website http://www.kvaughan.com for more samples of her work and contact details if you’d like to commission her for some work.
How did you first get interested in design and illustration?
Well, I’ve loved to draw for as long as I can remember but it wasn’t until about six years ago (after a few false starts while trying out various creative paths) that I took a chance on doing a course in illustration and loved it. I then went to Wales to finish my degree after which I returned to Dublin and started freelancing.
Are there any illustrators or designers or even other artists who’ve been particularly influential in terms of your artistic journey?
I’m hugely inspired by illustrators from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Illustrators such as Kay Nielsen, Edmund Dulac, Aubrey Beardsley, and Alphonse Mucha are some of my absolute favourites.
How do you go about creating a cover design for a book?
I start by reading a synopsis of the book and jotting down any ideas that occur to me. I do try to read the book itself, if time permits, but as I’m frequently working on multiple projects at any one time, that’s not always possible. After that, I get to work on researching the ideas I have for the cover and doing lots of preliminary sketches. I then produce a selection of rough covers that are whittled down to one after submitting them to the publisher and author.
Do you have any favourite book covers which have been designed by others?
I have loads! Far too many to list so I’ll narrow it down to the most recent covers I’ve admired during bookshop trips. In no particular order, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, The Shock of the Fall, Frog Music and The Good Luck of Right Now all have wonderful covers.
What are your ambitions for the future in terms of your creative career?
I’m enjoying the work I’m getting at the moment so if I can keep building on that I’ll be happy. I would jump at the opportunity to illustrate a children’s book though. I specialised in illustration for children’s books during my degree so that would really be a dream project for me.