Please give a warm welcome to designer Christopher Coyle – Dark & Stormy Knight Design
Tell us a bit about yourself
I’m a graphic designer who moonlights as an indie romance writer, with a background in fantasy roleplaying games. I’m a moody Gemini who tends to embrace Zen, who’s traveled the world and loves life, embraces differences and celebrates the strange and unusual.
I primarily design covers for romance authors, and I try and create a distinct, unique take on their book with covers that aren’t necessarily “to market,” but will hopefully stand out from the others. I work closely with the author, collaboratively, from beginning to end, to try and bring their characters to life.
If I find stock photos that randomly inspire me, then I create “premades” based on that inspiration. They might not necessarily be designed around what’s currently popular, or “on trend,” but covers that make me happy – and hopefully inspire authors out there to create a story around that cover!
Have you always wanted to become a designer/artist?
If I wasn’t writing, I was doodling. Growing up, I wanted to be a comic book writer & artist, but I always seemed to focus more on one side than the other. If I focused on my writing, I let my art slip away; if I focused on art, my writing suffered. Going into graphic design, opposed to art, let’s me juggle the two a lot more effectively…so, I guess, yes. I like to tell stories, whether through speaking, the written word, or through an image.
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
It’s a bit of a cop-out answer, but the truth really is that I find inspiration in just about everything. Sometimes, it’s just a random stock photo that sparks an idea, or I’ll have gorged on alien romances so suddenly I need to design an alien cover.
Usually, though, if I’m working on a commission, then I draw inspiration from the author – I ask what covers they like, what their character(s) look like, what mood/theme their book is, and let their inspiration guide me. Some authors prefer to give me more leeway, which I’m comfortable with, and I take my job very seriously.
As a designer, my primary job is to make the author happy. I want them to hold that cover in their hand, and be just as happy with it years from now as they are the moment I show them the final draft.
What are you working on now?
Oh, I’m not sure I’m allowed to drop names!
Sandra R. Neeley was one of the first authors I started doing commissions for, and I’ve done her Whispers of the Bayou series (book 3 is finished, coming soon, hint hint), as well as her science fiction book, Haven, and her Riley’s Pride series of shifter romances!
I have been working on the covers for Wendie Nordgren’s Space Merchants series, which I love working on because it’s “romantic” science fiction, so it’s mixing softer tones with a sci-fi environment!
A few new authors have approached me to do their first books, which is an incredible honor! I love working with new authors, watching them take the world by storm!
Do you have any quirks while working?
I listen to audiobooks while designing. It’s a bit weird, but I’m an avid audiobook listener, so when I’m designing, I’ll usually fire up Audible and re-listen to one of my favorites; which, depending on my mood, can be anything from Julie Garwood or David Eddings through Kresley Cole and Thea Harrison…
I won’t tell you how many Audible audiobooks I own, but let’s just say that I’m a sucker for Whispersync on Amazon!
Do you have any advice for new artists about the publishing world?
Don’t be afraid of embracing your own distinct style.
Watch YouTube tutorials!
Experiment! Constantly challenge yourself to learn and try something new!
What are your hopes for the future?
I just want to keep creating covers! So, hit me up!
Do you have anything to say to your fans?
Wait? I have fans? Haha! For those authors who have entrusted their book babies to me, I absolutely adore you. You humble me, and from the bottom of my wee heart, thank you for trusting me!
Dark & Stormy Knight Design
Facebook Group (where premades are posted)