Freelance illustrator Tim Williams on how to make a magazine cover

I just posted the latest installment of the Artist’s Market Online Remembers series, the 2007 Insider Report “Tim: Williams: Bringing a Magazine Cover to Life” by Michael Schweer. Learning how to make a magazine cover is a great challenge. Freelance illustrator Tim Williams shares his experience creating a cover illustration featuring Dolly Parton for Business TN magazine. You can read the entire report, including step-by-step images of Williams magazine cover design process here, or keep reading for an excerpt below.




Dolly Parton illustration by Tim Williams on the cover of Business TN magazine

When Tim Williams was commissioned to create a Dolly Parton cover illustration for Business TN magazine, the Art Director stressed the importance of capturing her icon status.










How did you get the opportunity to work with Business TN?

It’s kind of an interesting little story. I used to live in Nashville when I was a teenager. A friend of mine from high school owns an insurance company in that area and he contacted me—probably the first time I heard from him in 30 years. During the course of us exchanging e-mails he told me about Business TN—by this time he knew is was an illustrator. He said you ought to send them some stuff. So I started peppering them with samples. And after about six months of hitting them pretty hard I got a call from the Art Director Lauren Finney. I did a few spot illustrations for them first and then a couple of features. I think the Dolly cover was my third cover for them.

What went into the decision to make the Dolly Parton cover in this particular style? It is a timeless, dignified image of her as opposed to the usual colorful larger-than-life pictures. Walk me through the process of the idea/creation behind the cover.

They had a pretty good idea of what they wanted. Michael Burgin, the Managing Editor at Business TN, made it clear to me that they wanted to avoid the caricature image. They wanted to make it look almost like a Greek statue. They wanted that dignity to it because that was the thing they were promoting in the text of the article: Dolly Parton as the icon. And to be honest with you I had some trouble coming up with the illustration at first. The first couple sets of sketches I did, they weren’t pleased with, and I wasn’t pleased with myself either. By this time I had bought a Dolly Parton book and was just immersing myself in reference, and I found the perfect photograph of her. If I remember right it was of her taking an instrument break during a concert, and the tilt of the head, everything about the photograph was perfect. I based my illustration on that photo.

Click here to continue reading the article on freelance illustrator Tim Williams’ magazine cover design process.

Click here to learn how to make a book cover.


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