Here today to celebrate the release of his short story ebook compilation, When Colors Bleed, is Estevan Vega to talk about the cover design process.
WHEN COLORS BLEED is a collection of three unique stories that, when compiled together, create a palpable blend of love, loss, and regret. When I was working on these stories, all at different times, I had no idea that one day they’d be put together and published in one volume. In fact, I wrote them to distract my mind for a bit while I was feverishly pumping out ARSON book one and two. Sometimes you just have to step away for a moment from the thing you’re working on in order to keep it fresh. So I worked on short stories, never thinking I’d publish them. Sure, the idea of publishing them was nice, but it didn’t seem like it’d happen.
When I decided that publishing was a reality with the Kindle, I knew I could bypass the traditional, painful, agonizing, full-of-B.S. route and instead release it digitally right to my readers. It was a liberating thought. It also meant I could include or exclude whatever I wanted, and I could use whatever cover artist I wanted to make this collection light up on a computer screen. I, of course, turned to the creativity of Tyler Evans, the master artist behind my ARSON cover. But when I contacted him, I told him this process was going to be a little different. Since there were going to be three distinct stories, I wanted three distinct pieces of art to represent each story, in addition to the cover art. This process took nearly a month, and over several weeks, I wondered if I was going overkill (I tend to do that with my work). After all, it was just a collection, right?
WHEN COLORS BLEED is so much more than that. It is a collection of three unique stories, all with individual identities that are expressed and felt in different ways. Therefore, I felt like each one should be able to stand on its own, speak for itself, and have its own face. I wanted this collection to stand out from others. Not just in the way it is written, but in the way it is presented to you fine people. When you search for the collection on Amazon or on the Nook, however, you don’t get to see the art for each individual story, so I figured I’d let you see it here. Also, I figured I’d let you see what each one looked like before the final draft. Like writing, art comes in many drafts before it’s made perfect.
So here is the complete artwork for WHEN COLORS BLEED.
Comments: I loved the initial artwork (from the rain to the indistinct facial expression to Thomas grabbing his neck in uncertainty). It was all really good stuff, but it wasn’t cohesive with the story. The suit was supposed to be baby blue matched with a white shirt, so he made some minor changes and Baby Blue evolved into this:
Comments: This one definitely holds truer to the text, and it’s just unique. I mean, how often do you get to see a guy walking around in a strange, baby blue suit?
Next in the collection is Vanilla Red. It’s a story masking itself as a confessional hoping to be a morality tale. Yeah, it has many faces, but one fact remains regardless of your interpretation: it’s a sick puppy. This one is probably one of the creepiest stories I’ve written to date. It tells of a nameless man who now resides in a prison/asylum for the murder of a woman from his past. Once you read it, you’ll understand its odd title a bit more clearly. Here is Tyler’s original cover art.
Comments: My gut reaction to this was that I loved it! It was actually the first image designed for the collection. It was breathtaking and creepy, exactly the reaction I wanted people to have from the story. However, my name was barely visible, and I wanted people to be able to tell that I was indeed the author. So he reworked it and this is the final.
Second to last was designing artwork for The Man in the Colored Room. If you’ve read it, you understand it’s a strange story, and it keeps you on edge, biting your nails and guessing until the last page. Of all the included stories, this one resembles The Twilight Zone the most, in my opinion (God Bless you, Rod Serling!). Colin awakens in a room with bleeding color and a hot cup of coffee waiting for him. He’s not sure where the color’s coming from or why it’s there. Then a man who claims to be Colin’s friend, Jack, is able to shut the colors off with the push of a button. What follows is a creepy series of questions, but Colin can’t seem to remember how he arrived in the colored room. My designer shot back with these cool covers.
Comments: My first reaction of these was that they were both very cool and unique but not what I was looking for. I loved how the colors blended with the gray floor, but it just didn’t feel like the story I had written. Plus, I wanted the formation of the colors to be a picture that each reader created in his/her own mind, rather than something I was responsible for putting there. So we decided to stick with a much creepier, neutral approach to the story and resolved to let each reader decide for themselves what the room looked like to them.
Finally, it was time to tackle the front cover. I kept getting this image of a rose bleeding. The symbolism sort of speaks for itself, but I knew that each story dealt with something fragile within humanity. And we’re all bleeding to some extent. We all feel pain and loss and love and beauty. A rose represents beauty and fragility as every so often its petals die. Then Tyler made the flower bleed to show the flower’s human side, that it too can bleed in spite of its beauty. The rose is also fading, to represent the birth and death of all life.
I loved playing with these concepts. The collection was made even more real once it had an identity. I hope you enjoyed the journey of each piece of art. Now go get your copy of WHEN COLORS BLEED and look for ARSON part dos very, very soon.
When Colors Bleed is a collection of short stories. Three short stories. I wrote them over the course of two-three years, while I was working on ARSON and ARSON part dos (releasing very, very soon). I have always been a lover of short stories, probably ever since I discovered Edgar Allen Poe, sick freak that he was. Since so many people in our culture today don’t make time to read, a short story provides an opportunity for even the most reluctant reader to dive right in and give an author a shot.
Estevan Vega is the author of three novels (ARSON, THE SACRED SIN, and SERVANTOF THE REALM) and a just-released short story collection WHEN COLORS BLEED. THE SACRED SIN will be re-released in 2011 in a more complete, revamped edition. Also, look for book two in the ARSON series, out soon.