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THE ENCHANTING ARTWORK OF PETER SPELLS

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Self Portrait © Peter Spells

In April of this year I was blessed to win Fresh Lifestyle Magazine’s Book Award for my debut novel, The Case of The Curious Client. When it came to designing its front cover I had a very particular style in mind. A style I’d decided upon after visiting my local bookstore and studying the covers of Classic Crime Collection books. Though their artwork had a distinctly Art Deco style to it, it nonetheless portrayed a strong sense of vintage sophistication—the very thing I wanted to portray through my own book cover’s artwork.

When I came across the artwork of Peter Spells, then, I knew I’d found the artist for me. There were others who could’ve designed my entire book’s cover rather than simply the central illustration, of course. More often than not, however, stock images were used to create the final product. Due to the widespread availability of such images, I felt my book cover would lose all trace of individuality and uniqueness. I wanted original artwork for my book’s cover, and Peter Spell’s work had the style and sophistication I was looking for.

 

 

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The Pavilion at Night © Peter Spells

Like the Classic Crime Collection book covers I’d seen, it had an unmistakably vintage look about it that harked back to the Art Deco and Post World War II periods—as seen above in The Pavilion at Night. Such similarities were not incidental, either. Peter loves the eras of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s because, as he told me, “I love the simplicity of color and line in the old railway posters of those decades.”

His choice to feature the Pavilion in his artwork was also born from a personal connection as Brighton is where Peter works. Transformed by John Nash from a modest villa under the commission of the then Prince Regent (later King George IV) in 1815, the Pavilion is one of the most iconic landmarks in the south of England. Peter’s choice to recreate it in the 1930s/1940s railway poster style therefore is very much in-keeping with his love for both the area and the period.

In addition to architecture, Peter also features people and animals in his artwork. A project he’s particularly proud of, he told me, are the drawings he’d created for the Blue Guide travel series. He further explained, “I illustrated about fifteen of the guides, making illustrations of buildings and monuments.” In addition to the Blue Guide, and yours truly, Peter also counts A & C Blacks, Macmillan Magazines, and Rotovision among his clients.

Peter’s love of drawing started at a young age and, in 1992, he studied for a Foundation degree in Art and Design at Brighton. After this he undertook a two year HND Illustration Course in Swindon that he graduated from in 1994. Since then he’s exhibited in both Brighton and London, in addition to establishing himself as a freelance artist and illustrator. Highly talented with both brush and computer software to create his pieces, Peter told me his primary reason for using the latter was “compatibility. Computer generated imagery is easy to send.”

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Cycling © Peter Spells

The fellow artist Peter most admires is Hergé. Born in Belgium, Hergé was the creator of TinTin, the adventuring journalist who, with his trusty dog, Snowy, first featured in Le Petit Vingtième on January 10th 1929.  Hergé had become the Chief Editor of Le Petit Vingtième— the weekly children supplement to Le Vingtième Siècle— the previous year. “I’m a big fan of Hergé, and the Tintin Books,” Peter told me, adding, “He was a great draughtsman.”

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Robot © Peter Spells

I asked Peter what his dreams and aspirations for his artwork were. He told me, “To continue to develop and experiment with different ways of working. I would very much like to produce work for the film industry. Maybe designing a stage set.”

To anyone who’s thinking of becoming a freelance artist and/or illustrator, Peter would give this advice: “pursue something you enjoy doing and never give up.” A mantra I, as an independent writer, can wholeheartedly agree with. Yet another reason why Peter and his artwork were the perfect choice for the cover art of The Case of The Curious Client, and future Bow Street Society books and short stories to come.

If you are interested in commissioning artwork from Peter, you may contact him through his website: www.peterspells.co.uk. As someone who’s already his client, I can reassure you he maintains communication throughout the process and endeavors to recreate your vision. I’ve always found the artist to be as enchanting as his artwork.

T.G. Campbell is a British Crime Fiction Author living just outside of London, England. Her debut novel, The Case of The Curious Client, won the Fresh Lifestyle Magazine Book Award in April 2017. A month later she was honoured to accept the opportunity to become a monthly columnist. Her novels follow a fictional group of amateur detectives operating in 1896 London called the Bow Street Society. She undertakes extensive research and study of the British Victorian Era to ensure accuracy in her work; study/research which includes visits to museums, attending Victorian Era-themed events, and a whole lot of reading. It’s her passions for history, true crime, and British Victorian culture which she wants to share with Fresh Lifestyle Magazine readers. All her works may be found on Amazon and more can be found at www.bowstreetsociety.com  

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