Interview with expert book cover designer Tamian Wood


This is a guest interview with Tamian Wood. “Whether you are a self published author, or a New York Times best selling author, your book cover art should grab your reader and tell them, in an instant, “Take me home! I am just what you need!”” Here Tamian talks about her work, and experience creating compelling cover design.

1) How did you get into designing books?

I’ve been a freelance graphic designer since 1995. Back then I worked full time as a tech support rep for a graphic software company. When they downsized I decided to concentrate solely on my freelance business.

I’ve done all kinds of print design, ads, magazines, logos, exhibit design. I even did all the graphics for the exhibits at River Heritage Museum in Paducah, Kentucky. But I found the things I liked the best were book cover design, package design – which is kind of the same thing – and billboard design – which also comes in handy when my clients want to go BIG! In fact, one of my clients had my book cover design on one of the giant billboards in Times Square. Now that’s BIG!

2) Nowadays, how long does it take you to design a cover?

If the client is clear about their needs/wants/likes/dislikes, and inspiration strikes, it can happen very fast indeed. Sometimes in as little as a couple days. But I have to keep in mind my workload at any given time. I like to give myself a couple weeks to really explore the genre, allow time for the creative juices to flow, find the perfect concept, etc. I find it’s best not to rush creativity.

3) What kind of design brief do you work best from?

I have a questionnaire that I send my clients. It helps us explore the authors vision and things like genre, target market, character descriptions, key objects/places, mood/tone, and time period, as well as the authors likes and dislikes, so I get to know them a bit more. It also includes the more mundane stuff like trim size, page count, etc. Between this questionnaire and a brief summary of their manuscript, I usually have enough to let my creativity fly and craft together a compelling cover.

4) What, in your opinion, is the best cover you have designed, and why?

I’m always totally in love with whatever cover that I’m working on at the moment, but if I had to choose one, I’d have to say the cover I did for the Pope. People always do a double take when I say that. Yes, I did say THE Pope. Pope Francis’s Encyclical Letter. The letter is all about the environment and being responsible with our earth. I felt that the multicultural children’s hands coming together to help nurture new life was conceptually illustrative of the crux of the message. You might say I was divinely inspired. It won a First Place, Non-Fiction Cover award.

5) What do you enjoy most about being a graphic designer?

One of my clients is an astrologist. He told me, based on my charts and such, that my purpose in life (my dharma?) is to make others shine. Wow! Who could ask for a better purpose! It is my joy — and my dharma — to bring the words of others to life and make their work shine!

You can view Tamian’s 2 minute video portfolio here:


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