Interview with a Cover Artist: Francis Accornero, One Who Made Fabio Famous
If you have seen a beautiful cover on a romance book, it may very well be by Franco Accornero. For cover artists, he’s as well known amongst romance authors as Fabio and as varied of an artist as Nora Roberts. He’s the master of the stepback, whether it be beautiful ladies or eerie settings. In the 2006 Cover Contest, Accornero won for best Two Image Category. While his father urged him to be an engineer, Accornero eventually followed his heart to benefit of the romance community.
Jane: What is your background?
Accornero: Oh, my background…my father told me when I was a teenager ‘so you want to be an artist? I still remember…it was a hot summer day in Naples, Italy. ‘Yes pa ,you see i have some talent with my drawings…’
He replys: ‘So you want to starve?’ He was an engineer, he had a great job and money was good. "You will be an engineer like me, and you will get a good job that will guarantee your future."
I became an engineer and worked in Rome as such at the Ministry of Transportation for 9 long years. I came to the US via …marriage in ’ 71 and went to the Art Student League where I studied portrait and landscape painting. I took courses at Visual Art Institute also in New York City focusing on composition and understanding color.
Jane: How is it that you began to do cover art for books?
Accornero: I met an agent in a department store, I showed him my work and few weeks later I landed my first job. It was a cover for a ghothic book (girl running from a spooky mansion at night wearing a flowing nightgown. After that I was busy with that kind of books for a long time, the company was Signet part of New American Library. Bantam Books, Kensington, Penguin, and Harlequin were the others I worked with.
…And then was romance…
With romance one has to have a special feeling recognizing what makes an image appealing and romantic, color, position of the people, costumes if any, and composition.
Jane: How do you start a project? Are you contacted by the publisher? or author?
Accornero: It is the Art Director of the publisher house that contacts me. Editors have a major input on the content of the cover and at times the author also a has few suggestions
Jane: How many different publishers do you work for and in what genres?
Accornero: I worked, and still work, with all the major publisher houses in the US and abroad, Germany, Italy, Spain, France, and Japan where lately are buying 2nd rights for covers made in the States.
Horror, mystery suspense are also what I like. I worked on many covers for Steven King and Dean Koontz.
Jane: What are your primary tools? Ink, Oils, Photoshop?
Accornero: Until 12 years ago I worked in oil. Computer is now my main tool to create covers. The process is still the same: reading a manuscript or synopsis, choosing models, arranging a shooting in the studio, taking pictures and than picking the right pose. At home I have a great collection of backgrounds, landscapes castles, skies, trees etc. In my last trip in Scotland I took a lot of pictures of that magical land that I keep on using.
Digital imaging is becoming the main media right now, it makes it easier to change colors backgrounds, size of things and it is faster in a fast world we are living in. I paint in oil only for my fine art. I do portraits and landscapes on commission. You can browse my web site at francoaccornero.com.
Jane: What is your monthly output?
Accornero: My monthly output is an average of 8-10 covers.
Jane: Do you have a favorite art period or artist?
Accornero: One of my favorite artist is Sargent , so as a period in time I would say late 1800 and early 1900.
Jane: Are you a reader and if so, who are a few of your favorite authors?
Accornero: Favorite authors? Many in romance .Fern Michaels. Linda Lael Miller. Hanna Howell.
Jane: Are there covers you wish you had created?
Accornero: I wish I had worked on the covers of Ann Rice….