Cover Artist - "Always in design mode"

We are really happy to be working with a new cover artist, Jeroen ten Berge. He’s creative, efficient, open minded and a really nice guy. We asked him some questions to find out more about who he is and how he thinks.

Tell us a little something about your background.

I grew up in The Netherlands. My biological father was a renowned photo journalist and talented writer and illustrator, my mother was a fashion designer, my stepfather well-known author and poet. I’ve always been surrounded by writers, musicians, graphic designers and artists. So it was kind of inevitable I would follow in my parent’s footsteps. I studied graphic and typographic design at the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague, where my parents had met decades before. After graduating at 23 I started a design company. Ten years ago my family and I relocated to Wellington, New Zealand.

How did you get involved in doing book covers?

Back in The Netherlands most of my clients were large corporates, NGOs and local and national governments. When I started out for myself again, after a three year stint as Creative Director at a Wellington-based design company, I decided I wanted to work for and with people who are as passionate about their products or services as I am about design. That kind of ruled out the type of clients I had in The Netherlands. I was already in touch with Blake Crouch. I sent him a fan mail after reading Desert Places and Locked Doors. He asked me to design his website, and shortly after ebooks came in to play. I designed and illustrated ebook covers for his short stories, and for Serial, the novella Blake co-authored with Joe Konrath. They got Amazon to publish it for free and it became a runaway success. Then colleagues and friends of Blake and Joe got in touch for covers, and the rest is history…

What basic principles do you think a book cover should follow?

Design something that is clear, appropriate, compelling, appealing and effective.

What is your approach to designing a book cover? Where do you find your inspiration?

Aside from reading the synopsis, I always read (parts of) the manuscript. I draw doodles and sketches in a notebook, to quickly visualise the design I have in my head. The next step is creating the design on my Mac, using sourced photography, sometimes adding my own photos or illustrations.

I find inspiration everywhere. My mind is almost always in design mode, meaning I can be in a conversation with someone and a word or comment could spark an idea for a design. It can be quite annoying at times. I sometimes have lucid dreams about book cover designs, and there are a handful of covers I designed which originate from dreams. Occasionally I go into town and hit bookstores, to see what is new and hopefully be inspired. Movies and TV shows can trigger me, as well as music.

Do you have any comments/ideas about the latest trends in book covers?

Ha! I was asked the same question a month ago. The very nature of trends make them volatile – they become stale or outdated quickly. That said, it’s impossible not to be influenced and sometimes even inspired by what is out there. I will incorporate the things that belong into my work, but by no means am I a slavish follower of fashion.