For Manshen Lo, there is something incredibly special about illustrating for books and magazines. The illustrator, whose back catalog covers animation, website identities and artful character studies, has spent the last few years drawing mostly covers for publications. She loves this medium for the way it pushes her to read “with a different mindset” and how it allows her to work with physical materials – “like many other nostalgic people, I tend to prefer materials tangible,” Manshen told It’s Nice That. It’s the kind of work that helps him connect with other artists. “Cover art creates a meaningful connection between the author and my work; I can see things from a different angle, because I have to translate from their literary universe.
Predictably, the act of visually re-imagining someone’s words involves a fair amount of interpretation, a fact that Manshen tells us is often quite “gut instinct.” That’s because sometimes all she has to do is a few paragraphs of text. Luckily, it’s a process the illustrator has come to love: “I love capturing the poetic atmosphere that lies between the lines,” she says. Plus, in a time when book covers are becoming more seamless, the illustrator has also become quite good at sticking to her own style. “I have to admit, I’m not very trendy,” she thinks, “most of the time I just put my head down and do my own thing.”
On the other hand, Manshen is also aware of the cover’s power to influence his audience. As we learned here at It’s Nice That, it’s common in the visual design world to avoid the proverb of “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Manshen adds, “It’s a great privilege to be allowed to create an image that will undoubtedly color the public’s opinion of its content.”