Spotlight On: Dan Dos Santos, Artist

Spotlight On: Judy York, Artist
September 15, 2009
Spotlight On: Sherin Nicole, Artist
September 17, 2009

As Spotlight On week continues, we turn to Dan Dos Santos, one of my personal favorite cover artists. Dan’s covers are easily recognizable to fans of Patricia Briggs’ Mercedes Thompson and Alpha and Omega series. Dan’s body of work, however, is even more impressive than these gorgeous covers. So kick back, grab a cup and enjoy Dan Dos Santos.

Are you a solo artist, or are there other artists working with you / for you?

I am solo. I used to share a studio with a friend, but we never shared commissions. Part of why I like this job is that I get to work by myself.

Are you making a living pretty exclusively doing illustration, or do you have another gig?

Exclusively illustration.

Do you have any kids’ books in you?

Actually, I am in the process of working on a children’s book. It is a personal project, and I just need to find the time to work on it.

Is any of your illustration work digital, or is it all analogue?

All traditional oil paints. On occasion a client will ask for revisions, these I do digitally.

Who owns your cover art? (i.e. Owned by you and licensed for use?)
I own the original art. The client usually purchases first-time printing rights, and on rare occasions purchases the copyright. But I always get to keep the original.

Can you walk my readers through the process you use to create a cover? Do you read the book? Do you just go from the author feedback or the blurb?

If I had to define it, I would say vibrant colors, pretty girls, iconic compositions, and a youthful sentiment. I always read the book (provided it has been written already). There are several very thorough tutorials on my site that walk you through the process of making a cover. They can all be found here.

Do you think that book cover art is actually art? Can it be consider something beyond selling the book?
I sure hope so!

What is the single most important element about book cover art?

Are you trained as an artist? Did you go to art school? Do you have a degree in graphic design or something in the fine arts?
I went to the School of Visual Arts, NYC for 4 years and earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Illustration.

What is the difference between hardback and paperback book covers?
Aside from the obvious, the dimensions are slightly different. Hard covers give the Artist a lot more space to work with. That added space really helps to show a picture at it’s best.

Are you an in-house book cover artist? What process did you have to go through to get that job or any job as a cover artist?
Nope. I am strictly freelance.

Have you ever done a book cover and thought, I really hate it?
I hate pretty much every cover I do. In fact, it’s a rare occasion when I actually LIKE something I painted and feel that I achieved it’s potential.

Have you ever done a book cover for a book you didn’t like? (You don’t have to name names)

Is there an book cover that another book cover artist that you admire or want to emulate? Is there a cover that you wish you had done or that you just really love?

Zillions. I really love the work of Michael Whelan, Donato Giancola, Sam Weber, and MANY more. If I had to pick a single picture that I am really envious of at the moment, it would probably be this piece by Sam Weber.

Is there one you have done and really love?
It’s a toss up between these two:

Poison Sleep
Butcher Bird

Do you think book covers sometimes hurt the sales of a book?
It would never hurt sales, it simply wouldn’t reap sales. Though, a good cover really does help a LOT.

Do you feel that a cover should accurately reflect the characters inside the book? Based on the recent controversy over the American cover for the book Liar, how do you feel about covers that may be viewed as inaccurate representations?
Personally, I strive for accuracy. Though, if a little bit of inaccuracy means make a MUCH better cover, I think it’s more than justified.

Do you think that a lot of people stay away from romances because they are too embarrassed by some book covers?
I don’t think the covers are any more embarrassing than the content within.

If someone was interested in getting into book covers, do you have any suggestions about how they can go about doing so?

Have a good portfolio and start showing it around. Go to the book store, and find a book that you think stylistically matches your work. Look inside for the publisher and Art Director’s name. Then, just mail that person some samples. Easy as that. If your work is good, the rest will happen on it’s own.

Do you have any upcoming books coming out? Upcoming covers?
Absolutely. I have already painted half a dozen covers that won’t even hit the shelves until 2010.

Last question, what sets your covers apart from other artists?
Hopefully, a personal sense of style.

What do you like to read for pleasure?
Reading all the manuscripts takes a lot of time. So when I do get a chance to read for pleasure, I usually read comic books.

A man after my own heart!


  1. SusiSunshine says:

    I totally adore his Dan Dos Santos covers. Great interview! I have to check out the links now…

  2. Mandi says:

    Awesome interview!! I am in LOVE with Dan Dos Santos covers. I have never read an interview with him…how fun! Great questions Heather!

  3. Sherin says:

    Dan has become one of my favorite illustrators. His work is surprising and gorgeous—you get enthralled by whatever world he's painted.

    Totally agree with him on the Sam Weber piece, the love of comics and his personal favorites. Although I must say I've been mooning over his Ancient Bloodlines piece for the last few days.

  4. Ivy says:

    Great Interview! I love his work! 😀

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