Welcome to another awesome interview with another awesome person. Usually for these blog-posts I interview one of my fellow Indie-Authors, but today we’re doing things a bit different…

Vecause today we’re going to get ARTY!

I’ve long held the belief that the #WritingCommunity and the #ArtistCommunity are bedfellows. I mean, think about it… Artists needs paid commissions – Writers need book covers. It seems to me to be a very symbiotic relationship that not enough people embrace.

Luckily, I did.

I present to you, artist EXTRAORDINAIRE…

So, when it came time to look for a cover artist for my Songbird saga, I started to look around at all the artists I knew. It was a bit of a double-header, because my Tepris Press partner in crime, NT Anderson, was looking for a cover artist for her book too.


Tricky because we both needed different things out of a cover artist. I wanted a fantasy type wrap around cover showing the duality of the characters. Nikki wanted a door.

It was also important that the artist could provide us with a commercial license, because not only are these artworks being used for the book covers, but we’d want to use them in the promotional materials and merchandise (if we ever become famous!). It was a conversation that Nikki had with Sylessae (one of our other fave artists!) which led to a recommendation to look Marlena’s way.  We never looked back.

I got my wrap around cover for Hunters…

And Nikki got her door!

A job well done!

As you can see from the images above, my books are going to look amazing. And if you think THOSE are good you really need to go check out her website…

And her Instagram is one of the most beautiful social media feeds you’ll ever come across…

So without further ado let’s meet the woman behind the (digital) paintbrush! Here’s my interview with Marlena Mozgawa.

Tell us a little about your journey to being an artist?  Where did it start?

Art was always present in my life. When I was a kid my parents used to paint murals to decorate my room. They were pretty creative themselves and encouraged me to try many forms of art, not only drawing and painting. I was a member of a few theatre groups. I attended music school and learnt to play violin and piano. However, creating visual art is what I truly love. In high school I chose art history as my main subject. It really opened my eyes and allowed me to understand and appreciate art. Even the Fountain by Marcel Duchamp 🙂 During that time I picked private painting lessons which greatly developed my creativity. I also attended hand-drawing lessons at the University of Technology, where I learnt all about art fundamentals such as perspective and constructing objects in space – things that many artists skip and are struggling with. Six years ago, I started to self-learn digital painting and decided to give myself a chance to become a professional artist. Turned out pretty well, I think. 

You’re a fantastic digital painter, but can you hold your own with a pencil?  Or a paintbrush? Do you still do conventional physical art?

For me digital painting is just another painters’ medium. It’s a tool not so much different from a pencil or paints. However, I still draw with pencil and ink from time to time. With a sparkle of golden leaf <3 

When I see your work, the thing that stands out to me the most is your amazing attention to the detail in the faces you paint. The three covers you’ve done for me have three very different characters carrying different emotions, and you nail it every time. What would YOU say your strengths as an artist are?

I would say it’s my flexibility. I mastered art fundamentals which allows me to draw basically everything (given time and resources, of course). There is no theme that would scare me off. Some may be challenging, yes, but at the end going out of the comfort zone is what makes us artists grow and learn.

What are your favourite things to paint?

Definitely fantasy characters! I absolutely love putting together all the details about a character and bringing her/him closer to a real world.

Conversely, what are your least favourite things to paint?

I would probably not really enjoy painting vehicles. Vehicles are more like a technical drawing and I had my share of these during my studies and getting my master engineer degree.

I can tell from your website and the work you’ve done for me, that you can cover a multitude of styles. So, are there any things, stylistically, that you won’t paint?  Or don’t like to?

I’m not a huge fan of hyper-realistic style. When I was younger I used to admire it, but practise shows it’s mostly just hours spent perfecting small details. In my opinion, the process of creating hyper-realistic paintings is simply boring.

Do you have any influences?  Other artists you admire the work of or try to learn from?

Oh, so many… From classic painters, I absolutely admire the revolutionary brushwork of Vincent van Gogh, amazing beauty of the human body captured by William-Adolphe Bouguereau and golden details on Gustav Klimt’s  paintings. There are also a few digital painters I would die to meet and learn from, like Peter Mohrbacher, known from Angelarium series, Ismail Inceoglu known from his postapocalyptic paintings, and Jakub Różalski, whose pictures to the board game Scythe are depicting the steampunk version of early XX century Poland and are one of my favourites (the board game itself is also in my top10 favs)!

The art of Jakub Różalski

Finally, I’m so happy to be working with you on my book covers. When I look at my books now, I can’t imagine anyone else doing the cover art. Have you been enjoying the project? What have been your takeaways from doing these covers so far?

Thank you so much for choosing me to be the artist for this project! When I first read about your idea I got so hyped I dug through your website right away! It’s so inspiring! I like that you think ahead and have a clear vision for the whole series from the start. At the same time you leave me a lot of creative freedom, which is awesome! Every artist dreams about such an opportunity! Being a part of this project is a marvelous adventure. Every cover is different, but they’ll create a coherent collection your readers would love to have framed on their wall! I’m sure I’ll binge read your book the first evening it arrives!

Honestly, now that we’re working together on this I honestly can’t see any one else providing the cover art for my books. I’m amazingly lucky to have found someone to collaborate with who has a passion for what we’re doing. And I agree…all the covers together is going to make an absolutley badass set of art prints!

Marlena’s Links

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  1. Tommi

    I love the covers of your books, Jon, so it was awesome hearing from the artist behind the amazing covers! I’m so excited to see what the other covers are going to look like. Do you have ideas for all of them already, or are you making it up as you go along?

  2. Shel

    I love this! It’s great to hear from the woman who made your book “pop”. I do judge a book by its cover and Marlena did a great job. It’s great to give someone the details of what you want and for them to bring it to fruition. Thanks for the interview!

    • Jon Ford

      At this point I feel like Marlena is tha artist for me. She understands what I want, and gets it spot on pretty much every time. It’s easy.
      I have a whole bunch of other projects in the pipeline and I want her involved on them all. LOL

      (She’ll probably get bored of me soon!)

  3. Mitch

    This was great! I never thought about interviewing artsy people. Marlene did a fantastic job with your cover! It really drew my attention right in. I bet it made a lot of people more aware of your book. The series is going to look fantastic when it’s completed (all the colors).

    • Jon Ford

      I am REALLY looking forward to getting the physical copy of ‘Blood to Earth’ to put alongside ‘Hunters’ and get the first inkling of how the set will look.
      The other interesting thing (if you can call it that) is taht the books should all be of similar sizes, so they’ll look pretty uniform on the shelf. 😀

  4. JoKnight

    I took an art history course in college, and I really enjoyed hearing the stories behind the artists and the artwork they created, so this has been a fantastic read! I’m off to check out Marlena’s Instagram account.

    Okay, let me go ahead and hit the follow button. Marlena had me with, How to Vent Out Your Emotions With Art.

    • Jon Ford

      I am eternally grateful that I stumbled across Sylessae and she recommended Marlena to us. I can’t imagine my books with any body else putting art on the cover now.

  5. Leffew

    I create blueprints on the computer for work, but I don’t have the steady hand and imagination that’s required to create artistry like that book cover. I took a class thinking it would be a breeze, but it’s tougher than it looks.

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