Designer Interview: Teresa Conner from Wolfsparrow Covers

Welcome Teresa! Let’s jump in! How did you become a book cover designer?
I was into website design and fansites as a teen, and my love of creating graphics steadily grew from there. I was never very good at traditional drawing or painting, and photo manipulation/composites offered me a way to creatively express myself despite that.

Eventually, an old friend asked me to design her book cover and that lead me to working in publishing beyond being a writer myself.

What part of book cover design do you find most compelling?
The inception of an idea. I love looking around and browsing and waiting for that moment of “Oohhhh! What if I took this and that and … Ahhh, this would be cool!” and then I giddily rush to Photoshop to create what’s in my head.

What do authors need to know to have the best outcome when working with a professional cover designer?
Try to trust your designer when they make suggestions or bring up market knowledge. A book cover is a marketing tool, and doesn’t need to be an exact recreation of a scene/character from the book. Readers are more interested in if it’s meeting their expectations for the correct genre.

What does your creative/workspace look like? What tech/computer do you use?
I have a tiny apartment so my “office” is in my living room. I use a HP desktop with a large monitor, Adobe Photoshop, Affinity Designer, a Huion drawing tablet, and an iPad. For organizing projects, I use Asana with my clients so the process is contained and streamlined, and they know what to expect. I use Notion + Todoist + Google Calendar to keep my own admin/business tasks etc organized.

What does a typical day look like for you?
I was working from home as an independent contractor even before the pandemic, so I get up around 7, do a morning routine, write since I’m also an author, and then start my day (which is a mix of a graphic design day job and cover design for indies and Scribd).

Being a super introvert, I enjoy the consistency and quietness of my days.

What do you enjoy most about being a book cover designer?
Seeing what I can come up with from random stock images I find. I also love inspiring authors with ideas they may not have thought of otherwise. Giving them a plot bunny via a premade cover, for instance, is a great feeling.

Also, why lie, the immediate positive reactions I get from visual design versus the delayed ones for writing is always a plus lol. I’m not above external motivation.

Every designers has their own creative process. Could you share a little about yours? What are the major steps of your workflow?
I start with giving the author a form to fill out. Then based on that, I look at stock images etc and do rough doodles of a cover idea on paper just to get the layout set in my head. Then I take that to Photoshop to create a first draft.

What makes a book cover great?
Balance. Not something so busy it detracts from the main visual subject and the title/author name.

What book cover trend do you hate?
I don’t know that I particularly hate any. I’m not the biggest fan of illustrated romance covers because it’s difficult to tell the heat level from them, but I also very much understand why they exist so I don’t cast hate.

What do you do when you find yourself creatively blocked?
Feed the well by browsing art—be that traditional via museum exhibits online or through places like DeviantArt. Seeing how others approach something often unlocks something in me. Gets the juices going again.

Do you have a favorite genre or theme to design for and why is your favorite? 
Romance (all subgenres). As a romance author myself, I’ve just naturally networked into that realm.

You’ve also published books as an author. Which came first?
Design came first since I started in high school. I wasn’t published until 2011 (pen name: Torrance Sené) and it wasn’t until around 2013 that I started thinking of using my design skills for publishing purposes.

I do think the fact I’m an author helps in making clients feel more at ease with my suggestions.

What do you do when you’re not designing? Any hobbies?
Writing, reading, kpop, watching tv/movies (I really love the MCU). I used to travel a good bit when that was an option and before my health took a turn.

What are you reading right now?
The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron

Is this your dream job? If you weren’t designing book covers, what would you be doing?
If I could be assured of never stressing over a livable wage, it would be a full-time author, but that’s so hard to actually come by that I’m quite happy as a designer who writes on the side.

What’s your proudest career achievement so far?
Working with NYT/USA Today bestselling authors and Scribd!

What’s on the horizon for you?
I’m booked out through 2021 and I’m also releasing a book this autumn, so just continuing to make things that I love 🙂

You can find Teresa here:

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