Saturday, 3 December 2011

My Self-Publishing Adventures: Part 5: Interview with Artist Paul Townend

Cover by Paul Townend
When I had my collection of stories sent off for editing, my thoughts turned to the cover. I looked at a couple of stock photography sites as I knew I wanted an elephant on the front cover, but the best photograph I could find was the back view of an elephant and that didn't really go with my story A Knowing Look.

Some of my more regular readers may remember the charity anthology Shambelurkling and Other Stories which I have two stories in. I loved the cover of this book on first sight and in a moment of inspiration I decided to approach the cover artist and see if he had ever drawn elephants.

Now, if someone asked me to draw an elephant, they would get something like this: 

WTH is that?

Yes, I am spectacularly hopeless at art. So imagine how I felt when Paul Townend sent me three pictures of elephants that were all brilliant. But then he took it one step further; he read my story A Knowing Look and sent me the picture that became the cover of my short story collection. I am totally in awe of his talent! 

I have invited Paul onto my blog to find out more about him.

Hi Paul and welcome to Ramblings of a Rusty Writer.
Thanks, Rebecca

Could you tell us a little about yourself in 50 words or less?
I'm a 33 year old artist from Worcestershire. I studied music technology and spent many years working as a Dj and teaching music at youth detention centres, before turning to the visual arts.I sign my work with the pseudonym I was initially embarrassed to call myself an artist.

How long have you been an artist? Is it something you have always been interested in?

I've been a artist for around 5years and I fell into it completely by accident. I was playfully trying to encourage my girlfriend to do more work for her university media course, and I've continued to draw almost everyday since. I vaguely remember winning a drawing competition at primary school, around the age of 5 or 6.I think it was of a haunted house.

Although I continuously paint and draw, I don't really have a huge interest in the visual arts and only really know a handful of different artists that I enjoy looking at, which are mostly personal friends.

You did the most incredible job by drafting the cover for my book after reading my story. Is this the way most of your ideas come to you?

I've only worked in that way a few times so far and was instantly inspired by your words. I could feel the imagery form as I progressed through the story.

Most of my work comes from improvisation and spontaneity, as I never really know what I'm going to do until the pen hits the paper. I usually start with a few randomly placed lines and often something will come out, that I've seen or thought in the previous few weeks. I find it quite exciting when given boundaries to work within for commissions.

What is your favourite medium to work with?

I love using black ink on card.

Which artists inspire you?

My favourite artists are Joan Miro and the Cornish painter, Alfred Wallis. I'm also inspired by the beautiful colours of Matisse. I find it hard to look at their work for any longer than 5 minutes before I'm compelled to start a drawing. My main influence comes from music .

Is there anything you would find impossible to draw?

Being an artist with no formal training, I find any type of still life drawing really difficult. My very first attempts were so incredibly bad and so I have a great respect for any artist who represents things realistically.

If anyone else would be interested in speaking to you about a commission, what would be the best way to get in touch with you?

Examples of my work can be found on my Facebook page - feel free to friend request me.

My email address is: www.paul.dotdotdot.townend (AT) gmail (DOT) com

Please feel free to contact me for any enquiries regarding commissions or purchases etc.

Thank you so much for visiting my blog, Paul, and also, of course, for the fantastic cover.

Click here for part 6, all about proof reading and things I will do differently next time I self-publish.


  1. Absolutely brilliant work again, Paul! You've done Rebecca proud, and I'm looking forward to buying my own copy. Great interview, too!

  2. Hey Rebecca - I've just now being playing catch-up with all your self-publishing posts and they've been informative and interesting. Thanks for letting us in on your secrets!!!

  3. It's a darling cover. He did a fabulous job! Congratulations, Rebecca and Paul.

  4. It's a lovely cover, and he sounds like a nice guy too, so win/win :-)