Sunday, April 03, 2011


Please leave your comments!

 These images are the front and stepback covers to Tracy Anne Warren's, The Bed & The Bachelor, Avon Books. I'm quite happy about the way they came out and it was a fortuitous combination of ideas and people at the right time, that made it possible.  For a long time I've been playing with the idea of these romance illustrations being about something more than just a blatantly sexual way of selling books. Instead, I've been thinking about the deeper feeling we have in love and romance, feelings that can suddenly become the most important things in the world. That moment, where everything disappears but the object of your passion, is what I'm trying to get across.
I helps so much when you have an art director, like Tom Egner at Avon, who understands art and design and just as importantly, knows when to leave an image alone. That willingness to stand up to the forces of committee blandness is partly responsible for the existence of this image. And so are the models, Suzanne Fogarty and Anthony ...., Who put real emotion into their acting. Shirley Green, my friend and photographer and her assistant, Philippa Clayton, all were part of creating these covers. 
As I was working on these, I began to have strange flashes of the famous painting by Delacroix of the Storming of the Bastile, during the French Revolution, in which a bare-breasted woman carrying the tri-color banner over the top of the melee, amidst smoke and mayhem. So I guess there's a feeling of heroism in the face of danger, or maybe it's more like the couple is saying, " This is all that matters!"...
here's a picture of that painting:
Is heroism sexy? Well, in her case it is.  Can sexiness be heroic?  It's interesting how, after the fact, revolutions seem heroic, but at the time, they are nasty, vicious and brutal. There are heroes, people who did the right thing in an important way, or who went all-out for the common good, disregarding their own safety. But only the winning side gets to celebrate them.  This painting, done years after the revolution, looks a lot like pictures that came out of Cairo recently. On their faces is power, excitement and something that says, "This is all that matters!"


James Griffin said...

I want to thank Eleni Konstantine for her very kind showing of some of my book covers on her blog. Please check it out at:
Eleni's blog deals with books and reading, particularly fantasy, but also romance books and reviews. It's a very interesting blog!
Thanks, Eleni!

Noelle Pierce said...

What I love most about your work on romance covers is not just the emotion that's conveyed, but also your choice of colors and simplicity to the designs. I've never looked at one of your covers and thought, "oh, there's just too much going on there." I've been looking at a lot of book covers lately (and judging them, as part of my new blog feature starting Wednesday), and the things I like in those covers, I can find in yours: passion, dreaminess, and focus. Even if you have other items in the cover to give detail, the focus of the image is not lost. Artistic devices such as blurred edges or--in the case of the snow goddess from a previous post--swirling lines framing the character help draw the eye where it needs to go, and encourages us to linger.

James Griffin said...

Noelle, Thank you for your thoughtful comment! That focus you're talking about is one of the main things an illustrator has to keep in mind. What am I trying to say? what do I want the viewer to see? I like to hint at a story, rather than bludgeon the viewer with a literal depiction. But a story is being told. I want the eye to linger, but also keep moving. You, as a graphic designer, know about avoiding "dead zones" that stop the eye. It's a part of design that I really enjoy, composing an image to do both things at once. I'll be checking out your feature on covers. Here's a link to Noelle's blog:

Anonymous said...

Absolutely beautiful :)

Tracy Anne Warren said...

James, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for the exquisite covers you have done for my Byrons of Braebourne series novels and for featuring the artwork for my upcoming release, The Bed And The Bachelor! I was so surprised and thrilled when I learned that you had decided to feature my cover on your blog.

And what incredible serendipity that you used a painting from the French Revolution as your inspiration, since the heroine in my story is of French descent and the story takes place during the Napoleonic Wars. Your painting is so vivid and emotionally evocative and does indeed tell a story. I can't thank you enough for all the extraordinarily beautiful covers you have done for my novels. BTW, Seduced By His Touch is another of my very favorite covers. Several readers have said they were drawn to that cover and picked up the book because of it. So thank you again.

James Griffin said...

Hi Tracy Anne! It is so nice to have a comment from you on my blog! I'm glad this most recent cover fits your story so well. I know the French revolution occurred earlier than the Regency period, but that spirit of new was everywhere. Is that what attracts you to Regencies? The new spirit, and specifically, the beginning of women's emancipation? Have you ever been interested in setting a novel in the revolutionary period, 1789-99? Those times seem to resemble the world today in some ways, with the movements for freedom going on in the middle east.
Anyway, Thank you for you lovely comment and please come back!

Anonymous said...

James, you are a truly gifted artist and OF COURSE you capture the emotion behind the sexy! Your work oooooozes emotion and intelligence, hinting beautifully at the story. I'm a new contemporary romance author and I wish it was customary in my genre to use art instead of photography!