An interview with Micaela Alcaino – Book Cover designer extraordinaire!

micaela alcaino cover

Have you ever looked at a book cover in total awe and wondered: ‘how do they do that’!? Of course you have!

Well, I’ve got a treat for you! I had a chat with the AMAZING Micaela Alcaino (check out this link and I guarantee you’ll recognise some of her work!) about what it’s like to be a book cover designer!

The interview covers everything from how Micaela got into book cover design, to how her creative mind works, all the way through to tips for aspiring designers!

So get comfy and settle in because I’m diving straight in with my questions for the incredibly talented Micaela Alcaino!

So let’s start with the obvious! How did you get into book cover design?

micaela alcaino the binding

I actually fell into book cover design by accident! Back in 2013, I moved to the UK from Australia. I was desperate to find a job in graphic design and luckily enough I managed to land a job in publishing as a book cover designer.

Ironically, I didn’t even know what the job really entailed until I went to the interview! Some would call it fate, and I’ve never looked back since. I would say it’s one of the best and most creative jobs out there. Especially if you love reading books! 

What does a typical day look like for you?

I’ve just launched as a full-time freelancer, so I’m still getting used to the new routine. But my day starts with reading manuscripts.

I find reading, or at least dipping into the book you are designing for, really helps the process. And then my days are filled with designing, picture researching, inspiration hunting, illustrating and also admin and tweaking!

How long does it take to take a cover from design brief to
a finished product?

micaela alcaino in at the deep end

This really depends! Sometimes it takes a couple of weeks or sometimes a couple of months (and I’ve even had projects that have been floating about for years!?). It all depends on whether the first round of covers I design go well and how many tweaks are needed and whether all the information is ready for the whole cover to be constructed. 

How do you go about creating a cover? Do you use mood boards, listen to music, or even is there any food you like to eat when being creative?

Mood boards are so important. I tend to create secret Pinterest boards for all the books I create! So with whatever inspires me I pin them to the board.

Music helps as well! I tend to listen to music that suits the mood of the book I’m creating for to help get in the mood, but then I just play with design!

I make sure to find the right typeface for the title and author name and then I just build and play from there until I find things that work well!

Sometimes things don’t work and if they don’t, then I save it and move onto a different type of concept. But I sometimes go back to the ones that failed and try and find ways to make them work! But if you don’t play with creativity then I think you end up boxing yourself in. 

What does your creative space look like?

micaela alcaino bee larkham

I actually have two creative spaces!

I have a workspace at home, which has my computer, Wacom tablet, plants and lots of natural light!

And the other is in my sister’s creative agency, which again has a lot of natural light and plants and great people!

For me, the tidier my desk and workspace, the more the creative juices flow. If my space gets too cluttered I get quite blocked creatively! 

What do you do when you find yourself creatively blocked or in a rut?

I walk away from the computer and do something else!

If things just aren’t working and I cant find ways to solve it I just go and take a walk outside, or go to the gym or go meet up with a friend.

Basically anything that can distract me from the project so that I can go back to it later on with a fresh mind. 

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Dipping into the manuscript is really important to me. But I really believe in going on the hunt for inspiration, so I love to use Pinterest, go to art exhibitions, travel around the world, go to the cinema among other things!

There are so many places you can find inspiration for designing that isn’t just walking into a book shop. 

micaela alcaino genius of pigs

Do you have a favourite genre to design for, or one you really want to design for that you haven’t yet?

I would love to say that I don’t have a favourite – but I do! My favourite genre to read is Fantasy, and therefore I’ve become most passionate about designing for Fantasy. 

What has been your favourite project to date?

Hahahah! That’s like asking a parent who their favourite child is! I love all the books and authors I get to design for! 

What are some of the challenges you didn’t expect to face?

micaela alcaino half a king

Hmm… goodness!

I think there have been highs and low in my career, but I learnt from early on; never release Hi-Res files before you get paid!

I had an author run away with my designs and upload them to Amazon and still haven’t paid me my due a year later and they’ve ignored all forms of contact! EEK!

So advice to all designers starting off in this business; never release your files until the final payment has been made, even out of good will and trust! 

What’s next for you?

As I mentioned before, I’ve just started the new adventure of freelance, which I’m super excited about! I think this is my biggest challenge but biggest step in my career! And I can’t wait to see where it takes me! 

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So that’s it! I really hope you enjoyed that at you learnt something amazing (I’m sure you did)!

I’d like to personally thank Micaela Alcaino again for agreeing to do this interview with me!

Head out to any bookstore and you’ll find Micaela’s work and I’m sure you’ll start to see even more of it in the near future!

PS – I bought The Binding based on Micaela’s stunning artwork alone!

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[PLEASE NOTE]: I was not paid or sponsored to write this article.

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