Let me preface this post by saying that my design critiques of these covers are in no way, shape or form a reflection on the author, the content or the publisher. I know the authors have very little, if any, control over the design. These are strictly my thoughts stemming from my design experience.
Today's critique is going to be in fictional conversation format, this time between an art director and a class full of designers. Hope you enjoy:)
Art Director: Alright everyone, last week I gave you an assignment to design and execute a cover for a romance novel. You were asked to find models, oversee the photography, and create a finished layout. I believe some of the guidelines were the male models should be in good shape, we women like to ogle, and it was entirely up to you as to whether they were alone or accompanied. Let's see what you've all come up with!
Andrea, we'll start with you.
Art Director: Gorgeous! The use of monochromatic colors is very appealing, and I like that you went against the grain and used cool blues and greens despite the title having the word "passion" in it.
Andrea: Thank you. I'm quite fond of the final product. I kind of want to lick him.
Art Director: Please refrain from saying things like that in my presence. If you feel the urge to say something along those lines coming on, I'd like to request you make a concentrated effort to suppress it. That being said, your choice of model was spot on, and props to you for including his entire head instead of just his mouth, chin, and chest as so many romance covers do.
Andrea: Heads are important.
Art Director: Thank you for that statement of fact. I'd say heads are doubly important in a romance novel, wouldn't you? Heh. Okay, moving on.
Jason, what have you got for me?
Jason: Shazam! I think what I've come up with is electric. Get it?
Art Director: Yes, and you think wrong. Very, very wrong. First of all, your model looks as though he's admiring himself in the mirror instead of giving potential readers the "come hither" stare. Second, what is that necklace?
Jason: I thought he needed a prop.
Art Director: And that necklace is the best you could come up with? Why is your model on the cover twice? Does he have a twin brother, or does he just like to watch himself with women?
Jason: Well, I thought I'd illustrate his abundance of masculinity by showing him standing alone in all his shirtless magnificence, and then also show the readers how he can pleasure a woman...magnificently.
Art Director: I suffer you to live. And stop using the word "magnificent", when used in reference to your cover it loses all meaning.
Travis, please show me all my teachings have not been lost on you as they so clearly have on Jason.
Art Director: Well done Travis! Another beautiful use of color. Like Andrea, you chose a lovely model and created an image that's sexy while remaining tasteful. I like how all we see are the woman's hands, now we know she's there but we can project ourselves onto her and imagine ourselves in her place. It's dramatic and enticing without resorting to absurdity.
Travis: Thank you. Love it when the ladies use their nails to scratch.
Art Director: Ungh. That was entirely too much information about you. I think we're done here.
Susannah, round us out would you?
Art Director: Care to explain yourself?
Susannah: Well, I know some people like to um, dress up, in the bedroom so I wanted to illustrate that particular kink on the cover.
Art Director: I see. And when women ask their men to dress up as you say, do you think it's fuzzy pink bunny ears they want to see them in? And don't you think for a romance cover, if he's going to be in bunny ears, they should both at least be upright? Limpness is not something we want to advertise in this situation Susannah. And what's wrong with his face? He looks as though he's been mauled and can only see out of his right eye.
Susannah: I had some trouble there.
Art Director: Clearly. A mutilated bunny is stalking this topless woman. That is terrifying Susannah. You fail.
Okay, everyone. Some of you did very well this week. Susannah and Jason, I'm going to need you both to be smarter and more talented before you can continue in my class. See you all next week.