Wednesday, July 24, 2013
An Interview with Gifted Cover Artist Jon Paul - Inspiration that Moves the Heart and Makes Us Want to Read the Book!
Your art is beautiful and moving…do you paint for yourself or only on commission, or both?
First I want to thank you for saying my work is beautiful and moving. When I receive comments like this, they mean the world to me as an artist. To think that my work touches some one on an emotional level or moves them gives me great pleasure. I get comments from time to time in which people mention they get lost in the moment of my work and that kind of fascinates me. That to me is very powerful to think that as an artist my viewer is captured in the moment and they are viewing my art more than just looking at another cover.
When I am not doing my commercial work, which is all on commissions, I do paint for myself. The subject matter when I am painting for myself is always with people in the artwork, mainly subjects in costumes depicting a certain part in history. I love history. I guess being a book cover illustrator for 30 years has taught me or trained me to be a storyteller. I just can't say I want to paint a beautiful scene without some kind of story behind it. The more of the story I know behind the scene the more I get involved in the piece.
Anything and everything. It's all what lens you want to look at life through. During the middle of the day I take a break away from my work and walk 3 to 4 miles. When I walk, it is like a meditation and the beauty that I see during these walks inspiring in itself. I could see hundreds a paintings in a day in my mind. I'm fortunate that I live in a area where there is beautiful scenery, forests, lakes, mountains and a lot of wildlife.
Other things that inspire my art would include looking through the works of art from the past. I just had a section of my house set up as a library for my extensive collection of art books. I have over a thousand art books from every period from the Renaissance up to Modern Times. At nighttime I go into that section of my house and spend hour upon hour just paging through my collection. I can't even put it into words how inspired I get when I am looking through the works of artists like John Singer Sargent, Sorolla or Anders Zorn, the Masters of the past.
What are your favorite pieces?
I really can't say I have any favorite pieces of my own work. When I am doing my covers, I always feel that creative energy to say to myself, "well this is going to be my best piece to date"… until I start the next one. There is one piece I did when I was 21 just to get into the industry… to this day I have kept that piece and never sold it. It has a lot of sentimental value to me and it reminds me of the purity and love I had for my art when I was just starting out in the book cover publishing industry.
You are a handsome man, Jon. I know you use models, so I must ask…do you ever use yourself as the model for the hero?
Thank You:) When I was younger I was in two of my illustrations… It was fun, though I was very nervous doing it even though I knew the models at the time I was posing with very well. I’d rather be on the other side of the camera or easel (lol)
Well I really don't have much of a choice, for the publisher will always have the last word:) So I go according to their requests. Most publishers give me full creative freedom these days, which brings my best work out of me. I am very thankful that they like my work enough to keep coming back and hiring me for more jobs.
Do you license the use of a particular painting? Do you sell the originals?
I do retain the copyright on all my work and from time to time I do license it out for second rights. The originals that were done in oil I have never sold. In digital, there is no original, so to speak. (I use a mixed media--traditional and digital--to get the effect I want. These days the publishers would never wait for an oil painting to dry.)
What are you working on now?
Believe it or not, right at the moment I have sixteen covers I am doing… all for major publishers… so I am booked up for the next several months. The piece I worked on today is from 1887, the Victorian period, which is my favorite period in history. I love the late Victorian period… anything from the 1880's up to World War I, "The La Belle Époque Era" … which is the late Victorian into the Edwardian period. I should have been born in that era (lol). On one condition, however—that I could paint the portraits of the members of High Society. To be a portrait painter back in those times must have been exciting. All those beautiful gowns!
To get more time to do my own art. I love doing the romance covers, though I would love to get deeply into one of my own projects and put a 100 percent of my heart and soul into it. I am in the process of working on a major project and have been doing a lot of research for the last several years. At a later date I hope to start releasing some of these pieces through another website I will be creating. The website will be dedicated to just my Fine Art (gallery art)… I already took the domain name out and am in a process of opening it in the late Fall of 2013.
What do you do for enjoyment when you are not painting?
I know this is going to sound crazy, but when I am not doing the commercial work I am still doing my art. I know of no other way to enjoy myself than to create… creating is like a meditation to me, for I can get lost into my own world. One time when I took a vacation from book covers for two weeks, my agent at the time called me and asked me what I was going to do for my vacation or where I would be going, I told him, "I am working on one of my own projects" He thought I was crazy. Maybe I am in that sense, though my art occupies one hundred percent of my time.
A little of both. The publishers love it for it makes their work much easier not struggling with the type. As an artist I like brushwork and just hints of the background, I would say that is the style I prefer. I don't like putting in every detail… when you do, than the eye does not know where to focus first when everything in the art is demanding equal attention. I always relate it to music… if you are composing a piece of music, there are high notes and low notes, if every note was the same it wouldn't become a beautiful melody. So, in the visual sense for artwork, you are directing the viewer to where you want them to look. You are creating harmony in the piece that is pleasing to the eye.
I thank them for all their kind words and comments regarding my work. Their comments and words truly inspire me to create my best. Whenever I am creatively feeling down, all I have to do is look at the letters I receive or visit my Facebook Page and it lifts me right out of whatever creative low I may be having at that moment. As an artist you can't ask for anything more than that. To me that is worth more than anything of monetary value. It's priceless. I am truly living my dream.
Jon, thanks so much for granting me an interview. I have long admired your work, and hope that some day one of my own novels will see a painting by you on the cover!
For more of Jon's work and to keep in touch with him, see his website, www.jonpaulstudios.com, and connect with him on Facebook.