You've seen examples of the art work I did in high school, and then some of the stuff I've done since picking up my charcoal pencils after years of not drawing. I started drawing again only for the love of it, with no intentions of trying for anything professional. But that's not how things would turn out.
Grace Bridges of Splashdown Books put out a call for artists to the members of the Lost Genre Guild (an organization for Christians who write speculative fiction). She needed an illustration to be used as an element on a book cover. At first I didn't answer the call-out, thinking the drawing would surely need too be in color. But after speaking with Grace about it, she told me to give it a try and that black and white would most likely be just fine. So I drew the key according the author's description and sent the scanned image to Grace.
Before long I got an email from Grace telling me that she wanted to use the drawing and offering payment. My first professional sale! The drawing can now be found on the cover of The Duke's Handmaid by Caprice Hokstad:
Grace had already gotten the rest of the cover layout done. The dual-sun image is one that she took herself of a sunset and photoshopped to create the two suns referenced in the book. The key was the last element to be added. I personally think the black and white works better than color would have, as a color key would have made the cover too busy, and would not pop out the way it does now against the brilliant sunset.
Of course, Splashdown being a small press, the author's input was strongly considered. From what I've heard, larger publishers give authors very little input when it comes to their cover designs; but small presses work more closely with authors on such things. Caprice gave the overall design and the key itself her seal of approval, and the book was nearly ready to hit the presses.
As a bonus, Grace added the key as interior art, in the upper corners of the pages of each chapter beginning, and also an even smaller version at scene breaks:
How cool is that?
The agreement between Grace and I is that I would not resell the image of the key to anyone else. I had no problem with that, of course. I consider it the property of Splashdown Books and Caprice. However, Grace did allow me the freedom to use the key for my own artwork, provided it was infused into a more elaborate piece. I sat on the key image for weeks before being hit with inspiration.
Ah, but I will save that for next time....