Illustrating the Triempery - L.L. Stephens

18 Mar 2024

I like to quip that I write books to get book covers. That’s only partially for laughs: I’ve loved book illustrations from since I can remember. I adored the horse illustrations in Marguerite Henry’s King of the Wind so much I learned the name of the illustrator—Wesley Dennis—and sought out other books he illustrated. I was nine.

When I was a teen, I fell in love with The Lord of the Rings... and also with the illustrations of the Hildebrandt Brothers. I bought all their calendars. I papered my wall with posters. Later, I bought The Sword of Shannara on sight at my local bookstore. Because it was fantasy? No, though I have always loved reading fantasy. Because of Terry Brooks? No, I didn’t know who the author was. I bought that book because it had a rocking Hildebrandt cover in which I saw the makings of a wonderful story.

Am I susceptible to buying a book for its cover? Absolutely. I still do that. More importantly, though, I am now an author myself—and I want my book covers to tell a story. To be beautiful. To be art. My small indie publisher agreed, so the Triempery series books’ covers are everything I ever wanted: beautiful, majestic, and true to the story being told.

Being that I am also an adult with a few extra dollars in her pocket (not because of book sales, alas), I can afford to hire artists to create companion pieces for my stories. I may not write books to get art, but I do get art for the books I write.

One of my sons is an artist, so I’ve seen firsthand how hard visual artists work to gain respect and renumeration. Art, like writing—fiction especially—faces unique challenges. Like fiction, art takes time to create; it also takes training and talent. Not everyone can create art. Fewer can create good art. And good art deserves to command a price that recognizes an artist’s time and skill.

Price isn’t my first consideration when it comes to art. I know that for a lot of people it has to be, and I do think about price once I get interested and contemplate having to pay, but my first thought is always about how an artist’s work makes me feel. A work of art creates context—a setting; a person; a mood—and it’s that to which I respond

When I discover an artist’s work on social media, I follow or bookmark them; I want to see more of their creations. Often when I keep coming back to an artist, I start to envision how their work might reflect mine. How would this artist render my world’s landscape? How might they envision my magic or characters?

Travel Postals by Lazare

I commissioned a set of travel posters for my Triempery cities because I loved the vivid, distinctive posters of the artist Lazare. I thought some travel posters of my Cities would be wonderfully fun. Similarly, the gorgeous realistic small items painted by Margarita Bourkova inspired me to commission her for a set of illustrations of the Triempery’s magical artifacts that I think are perfect. And after seeing some ferocious battle imagery by Jamie Noble, I knew he would be the perfect artist to create an illustration of my Dog Man character.

Triempery's Artifacts by Margarita Bourkova

I commission artworks because doing so brings me joy. I love seeing my worlds brought to life; I also like helping the artists by being a paying customer for their talent and boosting exposure to their work.

Dogman by Jamie Noble

I’m sure many readers out there will enjoy these Triempery artworks as much as I do. If anyone reading this would like a set of either Lazare’s travel posters or Margarita’s magical artifacts, contact me with your mailing address and I will send them your way.

If you are interested in reading the Triempery series, you can order them on the Zon, or in the Forest Path page.

About L.L. Stephens


L.L. Stephens is a hot modern female with delusions of supervillainy trapped in the body of a little old lady. Weekdays, she writes epic fantasy sagas and the occasional erotic novel or story. On weekends she plays card and board games with her husbands’ Big Italian Family, cooks delicious family meals, and paints board game miniatures. Occasionally she visits family in Wisconsin and Ohio and aspires to at long last visit the son in Georgia.

You can know more about her on her website and on her Twitter.