Friday, January 16, 2015

Swoon Reads Cover Drafts

When I worked at Macmillan Children's books I was helping to design covers and interiors for Swoon Reads, a new crowd sourcing YA romance imprint. You can read about the process of designing the interior of a book in the blog post I did for Swoon Reads: Pulling Back the Curtains: Interior Design. Now that I'm freelancing for them I thought I would take a minute to post some old cover comps I worked out while at Macmillan. Some of these appeared on the Swoon Reads website during the voting process, but none were chosen. However, I think the process of designing a book cover is an interesting one, and I wanted to share a little of what I had in my archives.

The first manuscript to be chosen and printed by Swoon Reads was A Little Something Different. I was experimenting with different fonts and images with this one. I loved the black and white pencil sketch of the boy and the girl (you can see the original art by Genevieve Santos here), but it was ultimately decided that they looked too young and were replaced with the older couple you see on the left.

I really enjoyed reading the manuscript for Love Fortunes and Other Disasters, and as a result had a number of ideas about the tone and feel of the cover. I wanted it to be fun and playful and show the idea of a town that believes in love while playing with the idea of the physical fortune that people receive.

For Velvet, I found a number of really atmospheric photos that inspired me to go for a look that would convey the mystery and fantasy I found in the manuscript. I especially loved the light in these images and I enjoyed choosing some elegant fonts to go with them.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

January 2015: Downloadable Desktop Wallpaper

This year I've decided to create a free downloadable desktop calendar each month. This one is coming a little late as I was caught up in New Year's celebrations and such, but I promise February's will be more on time! I've also created a version for smartphones. Click the links below to download. Enjoy!

Download the desktop and laptop version HERE.
Download the smartphone version HERE.

These are for personal use only. All illustrations © Ashley P. Halsey 2015

Friday, January 2, 2015

2014 Year in Review

2014 was quite the year and I can't believe 2015 is already here! I thought I would take a moment to reflect on the past year and consider all the changes, accomplishments and beautiful moments that 2014 brought. Above are nine photos that I think best represent my year. Below are my thoughts (following the photos left to right, top to bottom):
  1. The Sketchbook Project: The year started off with me racing to finish my sketchbook by the deadline. Little did I know that my theme of hand lettered quotes related to Carpe Diem would prove to play such an important part in the forthcoming year. I just ordered my next sketchbook —I can't wait to fill it up!
  2. Cross-country road trip: My boyfriend and I were called into action when my aunt, who was moving from Sacramento, CA to Stonington, CT needed help getting her car across the country. We spent 11 days and over 3,000 miles driving from Sacramento to Pasadena to Tuscon, AZ to Fort Stockton, TX to Houston, to New Orleans, LA to Montgomery, AL to Atlanta, GA to Roanoke, VA to Scotch Plains, NJ and finally to CT! It was exhausting and fantastic!
  3. 5k at the Bronx Zoo: At long last I finally completed my first 5k, and at the Bronx Zoo none-the-less! The race is called Run for the Wild and proceeds went to help protect elephants.
  4. Manhattanhenge: In case you don't know - this phenomenon is when, twice a year the sun sets directly in line with the Manhattan grid. A friend and I got tickets to the American Museum of Natural History event where you learn about how and why this occurs, and then we went outside and watched! The best part was that at the same time the sun was setting a huge full moon was rising directly behind us on the grid too! It was an incredible event to witness.
  5. Whale watching: While I had been on a whale watch once before, this whale watching trip off the coast of Plymouth, MA was spectacular. Not only did we see MANY humpback whales up close and far away, we saw a full breach! I am still in shock that we were lucky enough to witness that!
  6. Leaving MacKids: My boyfriend got a job in Portland, Maine and moved there in March. After doing long distance for 6 months I decided it was time to take the leap and join him. Unfortunately, that meant leaving a job and co-workers I loved. It was a fantastic three years! I learned so much and I am so lucky to have had the chance to be a part of the MacKids team.
  7. Moving to Maine: Onward and geographically upward! In October I packed up my things, bought a couch, and off we went in a Uhaul to Portland. It was sad to say good-bye to my neighborhood that I cherished for all 6+ years I lived in Brooklyn and my wonderful room mate and friend of 4 years.
  8. A new life in Portland: Despite having to leave so many wonderful people and places behind in New York, I was and am equally excited about starting a new chapter in Maine. I did not plan to move to Portland, and wouldn't have predicted I would end up here, but I think it was just the right time for a change. I always knew New York wasn't forever, but getting to live my 20s in such an amazing city was absolutely the best. So far, working for myself is going well, and I love the variety of work I'm getting to do. I can't wait to see what 2015 brings!
  9. Turning 30: Being 30 seems like the right place to be. It's not too old, it's not too young. It's an age where you can call yourself an adult with certainty, own who you are, and not worry about what others think of you. I know my fourth decade will undoubtedly bring more changes, and I welcome them.