Viking: The Ways of the Dead

Viking/Penguin: Ways of the Dead
An interesting challenge came in the form of a book cover project for Viking last fall. The assignment was the cover illustration for The Ways of the Dead, the first in a series of crime novels by Neely Tucker. The art direction was to hint at an eerie crime scene on the backstreets Washington D.C., and to do it without any figures – which are usually pivotal in the majority of murders.
Viking/Penguin: Ways of the Dead
Without the human element, I threw myself into researching alleyways and refuse containers (not always easy to access by the way) and noticed a certain sickly green glow from fluorescent lights in entryways and loading zones would often lend a claustrophobic edge to the space. The dumpster in the piece also took on its own character so I played with different compositions and proximity from the viewer within the alley.
Viking: Ways of the Dead
The final illustration was painted digitally using Photoshop and Corel Painter and underwent a few rounds of punching up the contrast to help make the shadows feel deeper and inkier. Art Direction by Alison Forner.

William Burroughs

The William Burroughs paperbacks that I illustrated earlier this year along with Naked Lunch just arrived from the printers. Because the art director liked the style of the Silky Shark print in my portfolio for the initial Naked Lunch assignment, I continued the process using a silk screen-style approach and a limited palette throughout the sketches and finals. The Soft Machine, The Ticket That Exploded, and The Place of Dead Roads all followed the same process as Naked Lunch, including two or three layers of drawn tones, which I attempted to keep in tune with the style of each book and as a set. The final layouts and text were done by Jo Walker at Harper Collins and I think they did a nice job of pulling the artwork together. (Below is a bit of a process breakdown of the finished covers.)

Initial sketches for The Soft Machine, The Ticket that Exploded, and The Place of Dead Roads (columns L to R respectively.)

The selected sketches with some adjustments in the saturation and color to help balance out the group as a set.

Ink and brush on Bristol Board drawing for the Soft Machine shadows layer.

Ink drawing for the Soft Machine mid-tones layer.

Finished colors on the background layer with some separations for black.

Finished cover illustrations and designs:




Naked Lunch


A few months back I had the good fortune to get a call from Jo Walker at Harper Collins in London to do the cover illustration for the new paperback reissue of Naked Lunch: The Restored Text by William Burroughs. The thumbnails below are a few of the quick visual notes taken while reading the book, which were then re-worked into more coherent sketches, drawing mainly on Burrough's hyper-detailed neurological accounts of heroin, as well as his more visceral themes of primordial fluids and nightmarish, inky lagoons. Much of the inspiration for the finished drawing approach was also inspired by the bold, monochromatic silkscreened book and album covers contemporary to the period Naked Lunch was first published.

The book will be available in the UK from Harper Collins next month.