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Getting to Know: Fiction Agent Robyn

last updated 02 November 2020


Getting to Know: Fiction Agent Robyn

Last month, we shone the spotlight on our impressive roster of fiction artists, with a special collection of bespoke cover artwork in our Faces of Fiction campaign (if you missed it you can find it here) . So this month, we caught up with Bright’s expert fiction agent, Robyn Newton to chat all things middle grade and YA.

Formally an editor, Robyn has been with Bright for three years and has a knack for developing up-and-coming artists for cover and B&W artwork. Having collaborated with top fiction artists across numerous best-selling projects, we asked her what it is in particular, that she looks for in middle grade and YA artwork.

Here’s what she had to say…

Robyn, what are your top tips for creating for a striking cover?

A strong cover needs a design and palette that draws you right into the central action and energy. It’s got to have great impact on first glance, to grab the attention of young and often wandering eyes! Humorous or intriguing additional detail is also a must, as once the book is in the right hands, it will keep the holder’s gaze. Oh and a catchy title (preferably with some unique hand lettering) of course!

What about interiors? What would you say to an artist who wants to develop their B&W artwork?

Unique and personality-filled characters are everything, and of course it’s important that children from all backgrounds can identify with them. I love over-exaggerated and eccentric baddies and beasts for that extra ‘urghhhh’ factor and animated expressions and poses that would make you believe the characters could simply leap from the pages!

What other types of artwork would you ask a budding fiction artist to include in their portfolio?

After figuring out your B&W style, whether that be a more tonal representation of your colour work, or something sketchier with emphasis on linework, add work to your portfolio that reflects the kind of projects you would like to be selected for. Is it fantasy, or adventure, or something simply humorous?

It is ideal to have a strong collection of both B&W pieces and sample covers, to show off composition or hand-lettering skills too.

Create self-generated pieces with a full storyline in mind so they have a strong narrative behind them and convey a particular scene dynamically. Middle grade stories have lots of layers and it is important to showcase your talent in bringing all of the elements of a story to life – the scene, the action taking pace specifically, the personality of the characters, the humour etc.

When creating a cover, self-imagined ideas work well, but picking a movie or childhood favourite to illustrate in your own way can also be a good plan, and a portfolio cover will always be stronger if you have a real connection to what you are illustrating.

Any predicted cover trends for 2021?

For fantasy, I see a move away from Victoriana and decorative borders to more scenic and full-bleed designs with ethereal beauty and mysterious promise… and for more humour-led titles - a continuation of bold, character-led designs but those which reflect the diverse casts and young leader characters that are being written about.

What covers were you drawn to as a child?

Scrapbook-esque designs with simple yet hilarious characters, speech bubbles and wonky typography, à la Wimpy Kid always grabbed my attention, I think that doodly and very accessible style will always be popular. As a side note I coveted my fun fax and Mr Bean diary, complete with snot pages!


Get in touch to see how Robyn can assist you with your upcoming fiction project.

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