The Unmorrow Curse Cover Reveal
By Jasmine Richards
Hi everyone! The wait is over – I can finally reveal the beautiful cover for my upcoming middle-grade novel in the UK, The Unmorrow Curse, due to be published by UCLan Publishing in May 2022! To celebrate I have interviewed the wonderful illustrator of the cover, Pypah Santos. The first time I came across Pypah in an interview, I knew she was the perfect illustrator for my book! I absolutely love the cover, and I hope you all do too! I am so delighted with how she has brought the characters of Buzz and Mari to life. Representation and inclusion are at the heart of what I do and growing up I could never find Black kids in fantasy novels – this genre did not feel inclusive. I’m glad that I can be part of changing that narrative because we need diverse books!
So let’s jump into the interview with Pypah. We’ll get to explore some of her experiences as an illustrator and how she has worked on the book cover for The Unmorrow Curse, a story that follows Buzz and Mari as they meet the Norse Goddess of the Sun and one of the seven-day guardians keeping time in order.
Please tell me about yourself and some background about how you broke into the illustration industry?
I was born and raised in Porto, Portugal until I moved to the UK for university at eighteen. I came to the UK to study art, since I always knew that was something I wanted to pursue. I’ve been drawing and illustrating since before I even started studying it at university, and during my animation course I kept doing illustration work as a side job. I guess the more work I did, the more of a following I got on social media, which then in turn got me more wonderful work and opportunities.
What attracted you/so excited you about the brief for The Unmorrow Curse?
When I was approached about the cover art for The Unmorrow Curse, I was immediately drawn to the Norse mythology and magical themes in the story. I’ve always been a fan of Norse, Greek and Roman mythology growing up, so I was delighted to see another book for young audiences surrounding those ancient myths.
Most readers know very little about how a book cover comes into existence. Can you explain to me a bit about the process?
Of course! Usually, you get given a brief description of the book’s outline, sometimes even the manuscript, so you can have a sense of what the tone and themes in the book are. This also allows you to get descriptions of any characters and settings. You also get briefed on what the author would ideally like to see on the cover. I got a great sketch done by the lovely design department of UCLan publishing to use as a guideline. With all this material, I usually go off and sketch out some possible designs for the author to choose from. This back-and-forth feedback loop keeps going for every stage, until the author is super happy with the cover art.
Is illustrating book covers different from illustrating other projects you have worked on? If so, what aspects make the process unique?
I’d say there is a lot more guidance when illustrating book covers, since I am basically bringing an author’s world and characters into a visual form. The authors can usually offer amazingly detailed descriptions for how they see their characters and settings in the story. So, all I have to do is try to replicate those descriptions in drawings, to the best of my abilities. I always find it very inspiring to work with creators of other formats, such as authors – I love hearing things from their perspectives.
Every artist has their own workflow. Could you share a little about yours? What are the major steps of your creative process?
I like to work the most on the sketch portion of my pieces, especially when working on commissioned work. I like to make sure that every aspect of the artwork is signed off before I head into the rendering stage, so I can have more peace of mind. Other than that, I am quite flexible with my workflow and will happily adapt my process to whatever project I’m working on.
What piece of artwork from your portfolio are you most proud of? Why is it your favourite?
This usually changes every other month, as I’m always growing with every piece of artwork I make. At the moment, it is probably this one! I just remember how happy I was feeling when I was making this piece, even though I was using a medium I was still not very comfortable with (coloured inks). I was just proud of myself for trying some new materials and still having a nice time, without putting any extra pressure on myself.
Tell me more about your shop and your merch. It looks so lovely. How can members of the bookish community better support book cover illustrators, such as yourself?
Thank you so much! That’s very kind. I have an online shop where I sell stickers, books, charms, prints and all things illustrated – all made by me. I’m so grateful that people choose to support my small business, and it’s very heart-warming to see customers enjoy my products. Just supporting creators in this way is incredibly helpful, as well as sharing and showing them love on social media. This can, in turn, bring more opportunities and work for them – it’s little things like that.
Huge thanks to Pypah for her amazing artwork and the team at UCLan Publishing and especially design extraordinaire Becky Chilcott for their support and efforts on this.
You can subscribe to Pypah’s YouTube channel here, and do let me know what you think of the book cover on Instagram or Twitter! When I’m not writing my own stories, you can most often find me working hard to create series for my children’s entertainment studio, Storymix. Here, you can find out more about what I do and why I do it. Also make sure to keep your eyes peeled for more updates on all things The Unmorrow Curse, (book 1 and beyond) coming out soon.