Interview with Daniel Dos Santos

We’re so excited to have had the chance to interview this artist who has created some of the best cover art. We want to give a big warm welcome to Dan Dos Santos, super extraordinaire illustrator!










Dan’s art has graced many book covers, and our favourites in particular, the Mercy Thompson series, which you, our lovely readers, will have seen many times before on the blog. Dan has also created some beautiful covers for other authors, such as Gini Koch and Lucy A. Snyder. Dan’s art has not only worked with publishers, but his work spans from Disney, Universal Studios and Dark Horse Comics.

Book Pushers: Dan, thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. Did you always know that you wanted to work as a illustrator in the Science Fiction/Fantasy and Urban Fantasy genres?

Dan: I knew I always wanted to be an artist, but not specifically an illustrator. It wasn’t until High School, when I met my longtime mentor who introduced me to the world of illustration, that I decided it would be my pursuit.

Book Pushers: How were you approached to become a cover artist for publishers?

Dan: It’s the cover artists usually do the approaching. Being a freelance illustrator takes a lot of solicitation, especially when you are starting out. So I aggressively advertised towards clients I wanted to work for. Now that I have established a career, and clients know my work by name, they approach me.

Book Pushers: What is the process for creating a book cover before putting it down on canvas? Is it a collaboration of sharing ideas with the author, and reading the manuscripts beforehand?

Dan: An illustrator rarely gets to work with the author of the book. Instead, most of the collaboration is done with the Art Director. The Art Director will send me a manuscript, which I read through. I then do two or three sketches of concepts, and the Art Director picks their favorite (often contingent upon revisions). Once I have sketch approval, I seek out reference to help me refine the drawing. A a few tutorials outlining the specifics of my process can be found here:











Book Pushers: We’ve read on your site that you like to take 3 weeks to complete a painting, but due to time constraints, it’s rarely possible. What has been the most time you’ve spent on a painting?

Dan: For ‘Shiva’s Crown’, which was a personal piece and had no real deadline, I spent 4 or 5 weeks. The least amount is four days, which unfortunately has happened on more than one occasion, most recently for Diana Rowland’s ‘Secrets of the Demon’.

Book Pushers: Do you use models for all of your book covers? If so, where do you find them, and how do you pick them?

Dan: I almost always use models for covers, unless time/budget doesn’t permit. I frequently use a website called Model Mayhem, through which I’ve found many good models. Typically I look for models with some acting ability, and obviously, a beautiful face. But there are a lot of other factors as well. Being able to take direction and coming up with creative poses is really important. Because I reuse models often, a model with a versatile face (which I can change easily from painting to painting) is also a great asset.

Book Pushers: From the various covers you have done, is there a particular favourite of yours?

Dan: Currently, ‘My Life as a White Trash Zombie’. Though, ‘Butcher Bird’ and ‘The Fires of Heaven’ are long standing favorites of mine.










Book Pushers: Can you explain why it’s so important for you to match the tone of the cover with the contents inside of a book?  We’ve seen so many other covers that don’t even convey the genre, never mind representing the contents.

Dan: Firstly, let me state that an illustrator is not always given the opportunity to read the manuscript. In many situations I’ve had to do covers for books that were not even yet written. I do the best I can with the Art Director’s suggestions. Though, even then, that suggestion may be just one or two sentences from the Publisher’s sales sheet. In these cases, the artist is really just guessing what the book is about.

When it’s available, I almost always read the manuscript. Personally, I place great importance on making an accurate image. A cover is essentially an ad for the book within, and I believe all ads should honestly portray the product they are selling. (That’s not to say we can’t shed things in a prettier light sometimes!)

Book Pushers: Are you able to tell us about upcoming projects you have lined up?

Dan: I am already booked for the next in Patricia Brigg’s ‘Alpha & Omega’ series, as well as Gini Koch’s ‘Alien’ series which has consistently been one of my favorites to work on.

Book Pushers: And lastly, you’ve probably been asked this many times before { sorry 😉 }, but what dream author/movie/comic, past or present, would you love to create a cover for?

Dan: With out a doubt, ‘Dune’. It is one of my favorite books ever, and I still have my fingers crossed that if ACE decides to release it as an e-book, they will let me do the cover.

16 thoughts on “Interview with Daniel Dos Santos”

  1. Wow!!! Wonderful interview! I love the Patricia Briggs covers, even if sometimes I thought that Mercy wouldn’t have sold herself as being so ‘sexy’ in them (I now understand better the problem that illustrators run in to).
    I can’t wait to see more of his work and I’ll have to check out ‘My Life as a White Trash Zombie,’ ‘Butcher Bird,’ and ‘The Fires of Heaven’ after reading this. 🙂
    Thank you much! 😀

  2. Bravo!!!
    Fantastic interview and I LOVE the pieces you chose for this post.
    Dan Dos Santos is freakin genius, that is all.
    Thanks for the interview!!!

  3. Great interview guys, I always love to read about the cover art process 😀 Some of this cover art is fantabulous but I’ve got no freakin’ idea what to think of the cover for Diana Rowland’s book…*eek*

  4. I love his artwork! Some of his covers are my all time favourite covers – and I have to say they do attract me to checking out the book. I especially love Bone Crossed, and Touched by an Alien – the latter I preordered the book with that cover alone!

  5. All of his work is wonderful, besides the ones he mentioned already I quite like the covers for Celia Jerome’s books.

    Gini Koch sent a link out to this interview–thank Gini!

  6. The white trash zombie cover is boss! man oh man what a talent! And as a BIG Gini Koch fan I love the work you do on her covers. 🙂

    Amazing! And to think that sometimes you don’t know much at all about what you are drawing. Ok Ok I will stop drooling now. lol

  7. The first work of Daniel Dos Santos’ I saw was on Gini Koch’s ‘Touched by an Alien’, then a blogger friend posted a few of his other covers on her blog. Wow!!

    I admire all of Daniel’s work and amazing talent. I think it is wonderful that he tries to read the manuscripts before designing the cover. 🙂

  8. 4 Days?? That’s a pretty impressive cover for any amount of time but four days is stunning. That’s some serious talent. I enjoyed this interview a lot. Thanks for it!

  9. Donna Del Grosso

    Your art is amazing. I’ve read both books from Gini Koch’s Alien series and the cover art is spot on. I think you might be the only artist ever that can say… “Yes… You can tell a book by it’s cover.”
    Thanks for interview!

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