Ryan W. Bradley is an author and book cover designer who currently works in the Southern Oregon University Bookstore as the shipping/receiving coordinator. He spoke to the History of Publishing class on April 25, 2012, about how he creates book cover designs: which covers sell, which ones do not sell and how it is working with authors from a small business perspective. His business changes with the popularity of electronic books that do not require book covers, or their designs.
Ryan’s small business Artistically Declined Press “births books,” but more specifically book covers – although Ryan himself has also authored several books. For Artistically Declined Press, their book covers are definitely not “aesthetically declined.” According to Ryan, he has never had to redo book covers for authors more than two or three times typically. There is a rare and occasional customer who he has had to modify his style for a little, but for the most part he enjoys working with all the books and authors he does covers for.
Many of the book covers Ryan creates are taken from pictures here in Ashland; many are taken from his own home and of his family. For one local author who wrote a story about motherhood, Ryan used a picture he took of his three-year-old as the book cover. Ryan explained how he relies very much on computer programs that adjust the lighting, saturation, sharpness, and other features of a photo to match the tone and context of the book. In the case of the book cover he produced for the book on motherhood, Ryan explained how he adjusted the color and lighting of the photo to create a dull or almost melancholy sight since the book highlighted dreary aspects of motherhood – not just the perks.
Interestingly, Ryan has also created book covers for some of the books he has authored. One of his books, Code for Failure A Gas Station Novel has a book cover he designed to fit the autobiographical tone of this story. The book cover design so accurately depicted Ryan, that he had it tattooed onto his arm. Ryan puts sentimental thought into the book covers he designs, which is why I found the book covers designed by Artistically Declined Press to be so cool.cThey are bold and charismatic with a touch of Ryan’s personal life.