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  • Fred Smith

Judge the Book by its Cover: The Estranged Rose

Books are judged by their covers, at least initially. So when it was time to create original art for my latest novella, The Estranged Rose, I turned to the incomparable Aleigh Phillips (pictured left).

The artist behind the cover art sat down with me to talk about her creation, her approach, and why 1980's hair bands should bury the hatchet and reunite.

My simple minded idea for The Estranged Rose’s cover was based on this rather famous cover from a classic rock album—Appetite for Destruction by Guns ’N Roses. Had you seen it? My older sister had probably shown it to me at one time. I had to Google album covers by the band. That one came up first. The album came out a few years before I was born.

Now I feel old. Well, the story is about one generation guiding the next. What’s going on in your art for The Estranged Rose? How does it relate to the story in the book? The book is about a young band that’s growing. The drummer is one of the main characters in the band, who we expereince a lot of the strory through. So the drumsticks growing out of the rose is a metaphor, but I don’t want to give anything away.

Spoilers be damned. You nailed it. It’s a love story in a rock and roll setting. So the art has a bit of a stressed look, to show the angst of youth. And then the drumsticks, which I figured is kind of an extension of you since you’re a drummer. Guilty as charged. Is The Estranged Rose’s cover an example of your style or a departure? Stylistically, it was right up my alley. I like a high-contrast of colors. I’m sort of a comic book and anime nerd. The sort of American traditional style that comes with tattoos and the high contrast of comic books is something I use a lot—colors that combat each other as opposed to blending really well together. A lot of my work is about female empowerment. I love weaving femininity into masculine designs. It’s spot on. Because the Jenna character is exactly that. She brings femininity to a traditionally man’s world—rock music. But she’s tough. She can play with the boys.

She's even better . Funny you say that. I’m working on my thesis, which is a series of five paintings about the masculine traits that certain animals possess that give them a plus one. Humans don’t have that. So women can do everything that men can do, we just have to believe it ourselves. Tell us a bit about your process. It was very helpful in keeping me infomed of the art’s development.

I start with a simple sketch. It’s never spot on, but it’s a way to take the idea that comes from a discussion and turn it into an image. Now we have something to build on.

Then we move to a line art, which is a more detailed version of the final product.

Then a color map, which is a mock up with the colors that will be in it. Then we finish it up. This piece was acrylic on board.

Which I then photographed and turned into a high resolution art file for layout. The final cover has this indie vibe of a new rock band before they breakout . Now that I’ve read the book it totally works. Where can we see your collection of work? I have a website where you can see all my work—paintings, cosmetic work. It’s all on there. Last question: The original lineup hasn't played together since you’ve been alive, but do you think a Guns ’N Roses reunion will really happen? I don’t know enough about the band to know what made them split up to begin with, but the money might be right for them to bury the hatchet. A lot of people want to see them play live. If I can just get some of them to read this book, maybe I can afford to hire you for future covers. I’m game. Aleigh Phillips is a senior art student who lives in Bridgewater, NJ. Visit her website to see more of her kick ass work. Read The Estranged Rose (It’s free HERE), then all these Guns ’N Roses references will make perfect sense.

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