Interview With the Artist — Djamila Knopf

As I sit at my table, talking to people looking at my books, people often ask about the artists.  “Who did that cover?”  In this and a few other interviews, I’m hoping to answer that question.

Tales of the U'tanse
Tales of the U’tanse

Since I have different styles of books, some YA adventures, some short story anthologies, and now, my big multi-book saga, I wanted a different look to quickly distinguish the series from the adventures. At first, I created the covers for Star Time and Kingdom of the Hill Country myself, using photographs, but as the story broke free from the current time and place, I needed a particular look,  especially the characters, that was far beyond my ability to cobble together.  I started hunting for just the right look, and after many days of hunting through the deviantART pages, I found the look, and sent the artist a message.

Introduce yourself.  What kind of work is your specialty? How long have you been at it?

My name is Djamila Knopf and I am 24 years old. Currently, I am studying Art and English education in Leipzig, Germany. Besides that I’m doing illustration jobs, but as soon as I graduate next year, I’m going to move from part-time to full-time freelancing. Like most kids, I spent most of my days drawing. Back then, I drew my favourite cartoon characters over and over again and invented my own characters as well. My passion for drawing people hasn’t gone

In the Time of Green Blimps
In the Time of Green Blimps

away. Character portraits are still my favorite thing to draw and paint.

How did you meet up with Henry Melton and why did you decide to help him with his art needs?

Henry found me through my online profile on deviantART and asked me if I could paint two characters for his Sci-Fi novel. When he gave me the descriptions, I was in. I’m a fan of the genre anyway and the world he created in Tales of the U’tanse was fascinating.

Many artists collaborate with others to produce the final image.  Did you create the cover art yourself, or with the help of others?  If this was a collaboration, then who did you work with?

I created the work myself and then Henry composed the background and typography. I have never collaborated with anyone on a painting. So that would be something to try out in the future.

Captain's Memories
Captain’s Memories

Were there any notable difficulties, or high points in creating the image?

The difficulty with each commission I get is having to paint things that I’ve never painted before. Each time, I need to do some research and studies to find out how things work and what they look like. For example, I know how to paint gas masks now. The research part can be just as much fun as the painting itself.

What is the hardest part of doing cover art for novels?

The hardest part is having to step out of your comfort zone, but at the same time, that’s the best thing about it.

Do you prefer to work from a single concept?  Or would you rather read the text and create an appropriate image?

The more information I can get, the better. The brief gives me a general Idea of what the characters look like. But it is the story helps set the mood more than a short description.

Free U'tanse
Free U’tanse

Where is your artwork leading you?  Do you intend to do more cover art, or have you passed that by and are heading for other goals?

Book illustration is definitely what I love the most. I could also imagine working on card art. In general, I still want to paint characters and portraits, but move a little more towards bigger scenes and environments.

Where can the reader see more of your work?  Do you have a website?  Are there other notable works they can find?

You can find my work on several social media sites:

Thank you Djamila for all the great art you’ve let me use, and for making it easy to work with someone on the other side of the planet. Thanks again for answering these questions and letting my readers get an idea of who has been creating those interesting faces.

Thank you for giving me this opportunity!