The cover illustration was created by the wondrous Sara Alfageeh
. I admired her art from the moment I saw it, and her previous work on stuff like Avatar: The Last Airbender
is the perfect fit for me and this book. I absolutely adore Sara’s attention to detail, gorgeous use of colour to add energy and narrative to the piece, and how she nailed the JRPG aesthetic.
Sara’s also just released a terrific graphic novel
, which I highly
recommend, especially if you like her art here. For fun, I caught up with Sara to chat about her art and this cover!
Q. Tell me about your illustration for the cover—what were your inspirations?
SA. I knew Fight, Magic, Items was going to cover a whole array of JRPGs I absolute loved when I was growing up— characters, settings, games that gave me much of my visual vocabulary as an artist if I’m honest! I wanted to tap into that nostalgic factor so many fans have. I worried less about trying to get caught up in mimicking known art styles, like the soft wash of color often found in Final Fantasy or distinct linework of Dragon Quest. This is more about the feeling and immersion of falling so deeply into a story that stays with you for years and even decades later. It was a daunting task!
Q. You mentioned on Twitter that if you “showed 10 different nerds the same image, they would list 10 different characters.” What are some of your favourite Easter eggs and details in the illustration?
SA. So this is personally where I got very self indulgent, pulling from some of my own favorite design tropes. I’ll be revealing that I may be among the younger fans of the genre too. Some more keen eyes may notice the easier ones like Lightning shoulder pauldron, in Final Fantasy XIII. The hair was inspired by Lucina from Fire Emblem Awakening. The water submersion theme? That’s Kingdom Hearts all the way, c’mon now. You can practically hear Utada Hikaru in the background. The color palette is also very Final Fantasy, with those softer washes of colors. I grew up on anime and JRPGs, but hardly ever get to indulge in that style. This book cover was a real treat to lean hard into that type of linework.
Q. What tools did you use to create the cover?
SA. Thumbnails I drew on some post it notes, but I do all my work digitally. Photoshop, my MacBook, and an iPad + Apple Pencil. I travel quite a bit so I like to have a work set up I can pack up easily.