Cover Artists

A Closer Look At Sharon Spiak

Sharon Spiak at work

Spiak, The Book Cover Illustrator

Illustrator and fine-art painter Sharon Spiak has made a name for herself in the romance industry for producing various gorgeous covers for many bestselling authors. She also had the privilege to paint Fabio almost as much as the Duillo ladies did.

Hailing from the state of New York, Spiak studied fine arts at SUNY-New Paltz. She continued her studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan, where she trained under prolific romance master Pino Daeni. In the 1980s and 1990s, Spiak would design hundreds of book covers, working with the top models and publishers.

Although Pino mentored her, Spiak was not his imitator. Her style is both uniquely her own and yet hard to pin down. The heroes and heroines Spiak paints have gorgeous hair flowing in waves or curls. While she adds extensive detail to backgrounds, the use of color in the foreground results in eye-catching covers. Like many artists, Spiak would have her models photographed in poses before sketching several possible covers. Spiak painted in various mediums, playing with hues and light to make her images pop out.

Spiak, The Book Covers

Among some of the earlier covers, Sharon Spiak produced were these two for Pocket Books’ Tapestry imprint. Notice that despite the similarities in the covers, they have distinct looks. Memory’s Embrace looks almost similar to the works of Elaine Gignilliat, while the sunset and attention to fabric detail marks Chelaine as uniquely different.

Memory’s Embrace, Linda Lael Miller, Pocket Books (Tapestry #80), 1986
Chelaine, Donna Comeaux-Zide, Pocket Books (Tapestry #83), 1986

Spiak became famous for Virginia Henley’s romances. The Hawk and the Dove‘s cover was produced in 1988. Below is the artwork and cover for Henley’s 1991 The Dragon and the Jewel. The male model is Fabio. Notice the tattoo on the hero before tattoos were cool. I have a question, however. Why did the poor horse get erased? Was it because he was staring too intently at the viewer?

Three romance novelists Spiak would collaborate frequently with were Heather Graham, Dorothy Garlock, and Virginia Henley.

By the end of the 1990s’, digital artwork was becoming more popular, cheaper, and easier to produce. Spiak would continue to create beautiful covers, but their look changed.

One Lonely Night, Susan Kay Law, Harper Collins, 1997

Sharon Spiak, Fine Artist

Although Spiak still exhibits her book cover art, she now focuses on a different passion: fine art. She paints portraits, landscapes, and still lifes. Spiak works in oils, watercolors, pencils, and pastels. Commissions for new paintings are accepted.

A field where she has distinguished herself is in her lovely portraits of family animals and pets. You can view samples of her paintings at her professional website https://sharonspiak.jimdofree.com/. No, your beloved pooch won’t have to sit for hours to have his image created, for as with her models, Spiak uses photographs for reference.

Sweet Savage Flame has dedicated a page to her book covers, which you can access here or on the MENU under COVER ARTISTS.

More of Sharon Spiak’s romance artwork can be found at Sharon Spiak Romance Art. You can even purchase a bit of romance history, depending on the size of your wallet. Original book cover art is available for sale in the form of oil paintings on linen or limited giclee prints.

Ms. Spiak works and lives in upstate New York with her family.

1 reply »

  1. Thanks, Jacqueline. Love Sharon Spiak!

    Why was the horse left out of the cover for “The Dragon and the Jewel”? Well, it’s got Fabio in it. And maybe the Dell Art Department decided that in one picture, there was room for only one stud! 😁

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