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.
H. Tom Hall’s art work on romance book covers is legendary. His style is instantly recognizable, refined, yet sensual.
Hall was born in 1932 and grew up in Prospect Park, Pennsylvania. He studied at the Tyler School of Fine Art and received his BFA from Philadelphia College of Art.
While in the U.S. Army, Hall wrote and illustrated a children’s book published by Knopf. After illustrating children’s books and magazines for many years Hall moved on to create book covers. His work has graced some of the biggest bestsellers of all time, like Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire and some Colleen McCullough works, including The First Man in Rome and The Thorn Birds.
His career was so widely varied and successful that he was commissioned to do the reprint of John Steinbeck’s Cup of Gold and illustrated the cover of Kathleen E. Woodiwiss’s blockbuster bodice ripper, Shanna. The latter book sold millions of copies, and the passionate clinch cover was a huge part of the romance novel’s allure.... Read more “A Closer Look at Cover Artist: H. Tom Hall”
Victor Gadino is an award-winning artist who holds an MFA from Pratt Institute. His work has appeared in elite promotions for the corporate, publishing, and entertainment fields.
Gadino’s big break in cover art illustration came through Avon’s Gordon Merrick gay romantic series, beginning with The Lord Won’t Mind. These–at the time–controversial images showed Gadino’s knack for sensual paintings that held a touch of whimsy.
Gadino did not begin his craft as a romance illustrator on Johanna’s Lindsey’s Prisoner of My Desire, but it helped catapult his name in the romance cover industry. Elaine Duillo had been Lindsey’s regular illustrator at the time, and although this was just a one-off occurrence, Gadino’s artwork was immediately appreciated by fans. (I love the horse grazing in the background.)
Gadino would design incredible-looking covers for authors such as Rosemary Rogers, Shannon Drake (aka Heather Graham), Betina Krahn, and Sandra Hill. His works are defined by exquisite attention to detail, whether it be the hero’s muscled abs or the heroine’s beautiful gown and flowing hair. Many of his covers have been designed as stepbacks, with a “respectable”-looking front, but when they’re opened, there’s a beautiful illustration inside.... Read more “A Closer Look at Cover Artist: Victor Gadino”
Roger Kastel may not be as noted for his romance cover art as most of the other illustrators I’ve highlighted, but to ignore his artwork would be a shame. Although Kastel created a vast catalog of pulp fiction artwork, as well as romance covers, his biggest claim to fame is his work on movie posters, notably Jaws and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.
Kastel has illustrated about 1,000 book covers for various publishing houses. His work has been recognized by several elite institutions, he has won myriad awards, and is a member of numerous fellowships and associations. He has spent over 7 decades working as a professional artist. His artwork is part of Americana.
To read more about Roger Kastel and his artwork you can access this page:
Here are some great links, including a heartfelt tribute to his father’s career by his son Matthew Kastel: