When I first started writing I did not have a cover designer and I used a generic one from Create Space. To say it was awful is an understatement.
Sales weren’t going great and I knew deep down this was down to the cover.
One day, whilst writing Betrayal, I had an idea to have two pictures that represented the story and I spoke to a friend and asked if he would be interested in doing them for me. It was him who suggested his nephew Vin and luckily he agreed and he created:
Seriously, how cool is that? I was completely overjoyed with it and now use this as my logo. But Vin hadn’t finished there. He had designed me a cover for my second book, Betrayal:
But he wasn’t finished there. He had also designed a cover for the first book, The Beginning so it went well with the second:
After that I asked if he would like to continue making my future book covers and he agreed.
I honestly did not think he could get any better so after I completed my third book in my series I was blown away when Vin sent me the cover for Torment:
The reaction from everyone has been amazing. So many people have commented about how amazing the cover for Torment is. It seems that every cover Vin designs it turns out better and better, so I cannot wait to see future ones he makes. The guy is truly talented that I just had to interview him and get word out there that he is available to design anything you want.
So let’s get to the interview and find out all about this talented guy:
Thank you for agreeing to let me interview you.
I have the privilege of having you as my cover designer and I have to say that I absolutely love your work. Is this something you ever saw yourself doing?
No worries and thank you. I've had my fingers in a lot of pies over the years in regards to different types of design from working with signed artists in the music industry for album covers, flyers, event promotion etc. but after working on a few projects as either a conceptual artist on Games or movies then it all kind of blends into one really so making covers for novels is no different to working on a game or a movie, it’s all about getting a client what they want which is what I hope I do well at.
Oh you definitely do that. My readers absolutely love my front covers and I don’t blame them J
What is it you dream of doing/becoming?
The ultimate dream would to become a director or lead designer for a games studio but I would settle as a conceptual artist or writer. I love telling stories through all kinds of media; conceptual art is just another form of storytelling to me. I tend to jump around a lot in what I do as a professional so I'm like a jack of all trades but a master of nothing really. My only true dream would to be able to get really good at one thing and be able to finish something in its entirety to the best of my abilities. I'm half way through writing my own novel and I've written scripts for games so it's whatever hits first which I will run with but I'm always open to new things so I'm not actually sure about what will become of me until it happens.
What are your greatest achievements to date?
I did well in university but that achievement has begun to settle into not a big deal as I've realised that an educated man isn't always an employed man in any creative industry. I have multiple clients but I still have a day job, once that day job is cut out then that will be my great achievement. Until then I’ll keep learning and working until I get good enough to do what I love full time without it feeling like a side project. I hope.
You have recently moved from England to Japan, how are you adapting to it all? As I am sure you are missing your friends and family.
Yeah I was preparing my move to Japan for over three years so everything went smoothly with the over-planning but I felt it was something I needed to do, England was becoming frustrating to me in regards to everyday life and my future career when I was only hearing about studios closing down due to the economy crashing so it was a good time to leave, over 90% of all my client work was done online so it didn't affect my work so it was a smart move to get here and learn Japanese to break into the creative industry here. As for family and friends, it goes without saying that I miss them but we keep in touch and they understand everything I've said it he above so there isn't any sadness about it, it’s just something I needed to do.
How old were you when you decided you wanted to become a graphic designer?
I went to college to study digital art and we were given Photoshop in our first project, I was 16 at the time and I haven't really stopped using it since. After a year of using it I was meeting a lot of bands and artists in Leeds that were getting signed and I ended up making flyers which evolved to album covers and so on, fast forward 9 years and I finished my university course in Games art and design with a client list over 30 and I found myself doing anything from graphics design or fantasy illustration. So really I didn't actually decide to do it, I just get questions like "hey can you do this?" And to be professional you have to reply with "Sure I can!" So you gain a lot of experience just by doing that- not that I recommend saying you can do everything but I was willing to try anything to get a job done which worked a lot of the time.
I often find myself looking at the work you do and thinking wow. You are definitely truly gifted. Is it something that has come easy to you?
Nothing in particular comes easy; I still have a lot to learn with everything I do if I was to be totally honest. I think everything that I do know right now came with good time and practice. A lot of people say to me "I wish I could do that!" And the best way I explain it is by telling them creative work is like playing a musical instrument, you can't just expect to pick up a guitar and bang out a Jimi Hendrix tune. You need to learn the instrument, learn to read music then you piece together your own lyrics until you get something that is kind of workable, then you practice even more until you're good enough. Art work, graphics, writing- it's all the same as this process. So yeah, it came with drawing about 5 sketches a day until I was in college then switching to digital and doing the same thing. I wouldn't ever say I have a talent of sorts as I know people who are much younger and have a lot more skill, I think talent is just a word we use for how quickly we pick something up. It’s our ideas which make our work special and there is always room for improvement.
If there are people out there that would want to be a graphic designer what words of advice would you offer them?
Practice, know your trade, stay away from Photoshop filters and practice some more. I tend to take in a lot of information from the world around me and it’s really just about having the ability to observe and see that graphics, art and everything else trends and constantly changes. If you keep up to date with these things then you will automatically begin to make a backlog of techniques and processes as they come and go and in time you will develop your own style by mixing these things up. In the professional world you might hear this being called a 'Visual Library'. Look for clients where ever you can and be prepared for 75% of your work to be something you don't want to be doing, the better you get the more you can close that gap and things you don't want to do become less and less to the point that you will only be doing what you want. I have yet to close that gap but I would like to think it’s at least 30% things I don't want to do now, all in good time.
What would you say inspires you?
Besides the memory of my father I wouldn't say much else. It sounds ridiculous but most of the projects I start have main characters and ideas which I attach myself to, once they are there then they are kind of 'Alive' so I feel motivated, obligated and inspired to finish their stories for them. I have three main projects which are like that and the main characters poke me on the shoulder whenever I'm day dreaming to remind me "hey vin, still here chap". Especially with my writing work.
I know that feeling all too well. Would be great if we could have a Personal Assistant inside ours heads to take notes right? lol
Where would you like to see yourself in five years’ time?
Probably doing what I am doing now but hopefully a little bit more well off with a project finished of some kind. If not then I’ll have 5 more years of practice in the art forms I do have and looking back on my work five years ago was noticeably bad, I just hope I can say the same thing in 5 more years. What I would like to happen is to get a job in a studio of some kind as an artist or writer, have a finished novel and not have a 'day job'.
Besides me being a pain in the arse ;) what has been the biggest hurdles you have come up against?
Not so much for you as I had freedom in the covers I did for you but when I get clients most of the time they are too specific and sometimes that specific thing is total garbage, it looks bad, the composition is off, the text font is wrong, the picture which they provided is horrid and you have no sense of pride about the work you have done for the client. You tell them "you should try THIS." and they don't like it, they want it the exact way they told you and you know it looks bad. Clients that don't know what looks good is the biggest hurdle and its one of the main reasons I only do graphics part time and not full time in a firm. I would prefer to have less money and work at things I want to work on instead of dealing with clients that don't trust their graphic designer. We have experience and they hire us but they don't want the professional advice; it’s beyond frustrating.
Yeah I hear ya. That is why I let you do what you like with the covers. Because I feel that an outsiders perspective is vital and in my line of work the book cover is something that needs to jump out and catch the attention of a potential reader and I feel you always go above and beyond in what you do and I for one really appreciate it the work that you do J
For more information on Vin then please click on the following links and don't forget to tell him I sent you :)