Peter Diamond is a Canadian illustrator who studied Fine Arts at the University of Halifax. He is now based in Vienna, Austria. Besides working freelance with clients around the world in publishing, editorial, and advertising, Peter also teaches drawing at Illuskills and works with the international illustration community through Illustria and the European Illustrators Forum. He is the recipient of the Patrick Nagel Award and an Eisner Award, and has also received medals from the Society of Illustrators New York, 3×3, Society of Illustrators LA, Illustrative, and Autori Di Immagini. Peter is the cover artist for The Reckoner trilogy by David A. Robertson, which includes: Strangers, Monsters, and the highly anticipated conclusion, Ghosts.
In his Q&A below, Peter takes us through his illustration process; what it was like working with Reckoner trilogy author, David A. Robertson; and the concepts that were fundamental in creating the trilogy’s covers.
- What does your typical cover illustration process look like?
The process always starts with coming to grips with the concept, getting as much info as I can from the client about the subject matter and whatever leanings or slants they may have about which parts of the concept to highlight. The technical specs of size and physical media are critical at this point, too.
From there it’s a matter of finding a fitting image idea through a process of sketching and then refining the best of those ideas in concert with the art director. Once that’s all laid out, I’m able to just draw and make the art look as beautiful and compelling as I can, knowing that it has the backbone of a solid idea to keep it strong.
- Did you find that there were any differences in your process for the The Reckoner trilogy?
I don’t do a lot of book covers, so it’s an application for which I don’t have any particular strongly-embedded habits, but the same process is at play regardless.
In this case the biggest difference, and something I really enjoyed was the chance to discuss the ideas in detail with the author himself. David was very forthcoming and very engaged in telling me all about his characters and inspirations, and it was a treat, honestly. There is usually an intermediary or two between the author and the illustrator if you are doing editorial illustration (for newspapers or magazines, for example), and if you are doing advertising work there are many layers of such intermediaries, so this was refreshingly direct and collaborative.
- In your 2010 interview with Squidface & The Meddler, you mentioned that you aim to make your illustrations visual short stories. In creating cover art for The Reckoner trilogy, what elements of the books did you choose to highlight and why?
For the first book, it was clear to me from my conversations with David that I wanted to hone in on the liminal quality of the world he’d built; the way everything seemed to be happening along a border of one kind or another. Between the worlds of spirits and the living, urban life and the wild, or of beasts and humankind, some kind of duality seemed to permeate all of the most compelling aspects of the story. Jayne is a perfect embodiment of this idea, the way she is split down the middle, and it was clear among all the different sketches that the designs focusing on her were most compelling.
- You’ve created the illustrations for all three covers of The Reckoner. How do you think the three covers work together? How is creating covers for a trilogy different than creating a cover for a single book?
The clear difference with a trilogy is that it’s a family of stories rather than a stand-alone thing, so the covers for the second and third books were very much beholden to the first for their approach; we wanted a clear unity of design in the trilogy even while the covers were all distinct. Since the concept of duality we used to approach Book 1 was something fundamental to David’s world-building for the whole series, rather than something specific to that instalment of the series, it carried over very well across the trilogy. That’s actually a good example of the importance of starting every project with an in-depth examination of the underlying concepts.
- What are you working on currently? What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?
My aim for the coming years is that you’ll be seeing more self-made projects from me, and at the moment, a big part of what I’m engaged in is sorting out how to pursue the backlog of my own ideas in some productive way while keeping up with my client work in editorial, advertising, and publishing. It’s not easy, but such a wonderful problem to have.
Over the last few years I’ve been doing more and more screen-printed posters with Black Dragon Press in the UK, and that’s something I’m really excited about pursuing further.
Interested in seeing Peter Diamond’s art up close? Get the Reckoner trilogy today!
Stay tuned for more information on The Reckoner, graphic novel series and origin story about Cole Harper. “An Indigenous superhero, minus the tired stereotypes.”
The first issue comes out fall 2020. The Reckoner: Breakdown.