Honest, simple answer?
Because I want them to be.
I’m bucking the trend pretty hard here. Most online erotica covers are stock photography—and a lot of them are classy and charming, I’ll not deny that. And outside the erotica world, Photoshop and photography rule the book cover world.
And I really hate it! Me, personally, as an individual with an opinion.
I adore illustration. I love the unique energy of painted covers. I love the stylization, the endless possibility, the way a pencil drawing or a watercolour or even a digital painting can’t be reproduced by photo manipulation. You know what gives me a happy thrill? The old pulp covers.
Not to mention that I love the fantasy genre. (Shocked, aren’t you?) And when I was kid most of the book covers I saw looked something like this:
They absolutely enchanted me. I felt drawn in, like there was a whole other world on the inside of the book, brighter than dream, so much more vivid than reality.
For that reason, photography just can’t evoke fantasy for me. I struggle to pick up new books in the bookstore because as anyone who’s ever tried to market a book knows, we humans absolutely judge books by their cover — and when the design is full of Photoshopped items and people, flat colours or whathaveyou, I’m turned off. That being said, there are some lovely minimalist designs out there. But it’s not what I love.
And because I feel so strongly about this, about what kind of art can evoke fantasy, adventure, excitement and eroticism to me, I just can’t feel satisfied with the stock covers I started out making.
Which is why I’m slowly redrawing the Captive Falcon covers, why I’m illustrating my newest books. Because I want the practice. I want to become a better artist and designer. Because I strive to evoke the feelings that have inspired me all my life.
If I can weave the spells of enchantment and sheer delight that were cast on me, then I will have done good work.