Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Fantastic Art of Siol na Tine

You may have noticed some lovely cover images gracing my blog recently. Many of them are thanks to Siol na Tine, an artist who has recently begun working with Forbidden Fiction. I've heard a lot about how cover artists rarely get sufficient appreciation -- authors will go on about how great the cover is without bothering to find out who did the work. I've been really struck by Siol na Tine's covers from the start -- for one thing, I could really tell the artist was paying attention to details of the stories. The images also have a distinctive style, and great use of color.

For example, In the Death of Winter, a forthcoming story, is loosely based on Mongolian mythology. I took a lot of liberties and created my own fantasy narrative, but I was careful to make the climate and vegetation plausibly Mongolian, and the main God character in the story is based on a Mongolian figure known as Erglik or Erlik. As soon as I saw Siol na Tine's cover, I knew this background had been preserved. The bound postulant pictured is clearly not a white girl. The figure of Erlik matches traditional distinctive features of the God (such as the twisted black horns). It's incredibly gratifying to see this sort of vision carried through. I've heard horror stories about "whitewashed" covers, where characters of distinctive ethnicities suddenly become blond and white. I make a point of trying to identify my characters as coming from somewhere specific, and it's great to have the publisher and artist respect and preserve that effort.

For The Snake and the Lyre, Eurydice has a Greek appearance, and the artist has captured several key elements of the story.

I'm not the only one to benefit, though. I've inserted pictures of a couple other great covers, including the one Siol na Tine did for Mina Kelly's A Little Night Swimming, and the one for Kailin Morgan's Underneath It All.

I've been pleased that Forbidden Fiction has put the effort in to produce covers even for shorter works, and it's particularly exciting to see them take on an artist so interested in the mythological and folkloric roots of the stories being illustrated.

Siol na Tine has written an introduction here, which gives insight into the process of producing covers and the research that goes into them.

If you want to see more from Siol na Tine, check out this flickr stream related to Forbidden Fiction -- you can also see sketches of staff members. It was really fun for me to put faces to all these people I've been e-mailing.

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