Welcome to a special edition issue of my cover art spotlight series. Today I have Damon from Damonza here to talk about their work surrounding Non-Fiction titles. I was amazed by their fantastic repertoire of covers for a wide range of topics. It has been a great opportunity to mesh together Non-Fiction with my Cover Artist spotlight series and I hope you all enjoy this exceptional detour on the series that helps me celebrate #NonFictionNovember
Everyone likes an underdog story. Show me a person who doesn’t love Cool Runnings and I’ll show you a liar. But while comparisons to Jamaican bobsled teams may be tenuous, damonza.com did start out similarly modest and unassuming. Founded by Damon Freeman in 2012 as nothing more than a side project, Damonza has since grown into a trailblazer in book cover design, formatting and marketing. Having built an incredibly talented and passionate team, Damonza has produced thousands of book covers for a multitude of authors since its foundation, including many New York Times and USA Today bestsellers.
At Damonza cover design is more than just our job; it’s what gets us out of bed in the morning. To us there’s no better feeling than turning an author’s dream into reality. We love what we do, and you’re sure to love it too!
About Damon Freeman
After spending 18 years in the design and advertising industries, and having launched several successful businesses during that period, Damon Freeman began to dabble in book cover design part-time in 2011. Damon’s entrance into the industry fortuitously coincided with the explosion of self-publishing, and by 2012 this side project had turned into a thriving business. After initially doing his best to hold down a full time job and simultaneously run Damonza, Damon eventually found out that he disappointingly wasn’t a cyborg that could run 24 hours a day without sleeping, and decided to concentrate on his new venture full time. After finding some amazing designers that had a similarly deep passion for cover design, Damon has since taken on the Creative Director role of the business. No cover leaves the Damonza offices without first being approved by Damon, ensuring the firm’s exacting design standards continue to be upheld.
The Q&A Section
Hello and welcome to Always Trust In Books. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer a few questions about your fantastic art/design contributions to the genre of Non-Fiction!
Could you tell us a few details about Damonza and your time in the industry?
Damonza has been around since 2012. It’s a business that I started as an online cover design service to earn a bit of pocket money on the side. At the time I was working as a creative director at a small advertising agency, but within 6 months my small side project had grown into a full-time monster, so after 5 years with the agency I resigned.
I was obviously doing something right as the workload just kept growing and growing. As a human who works in the physical universe, my daily allowance of time (24 hours, for those playing at home) was soon fully accounted for. So I started to bring on more designers and a project manager or two to help me out. Eventually we started offering a few add-on services like formatting, book trailers, and very recently copy-editing, and now boast a pretty complete range of services for independent authors.
What interests your company about working with Non-fiction titles/authors?
The great thing about non-fiction covers is the opportunity to be much more subtle in the design. Don’t get me wrong, designing fiction covers is fun, but they’re slightly more ‘paint by numbers’; fiction readers look for familiarity, and those expectations need to be met for the cover to be effective – a cover needs to look like it fits into a certain genre to make it easy to identify.
But with non-fiction you can be far more creative and clever. The cover doesn’t need to be squeezed into a predetermined box – it’s more representative of the idea of the book. You have more freedom to create something that stands out conceptually as well as creatively.
Could you give us a brief overview of how you work day-to-day?
All orders are captured through detailed briefing forms on our website. Each of the Damonza designers has their own unique strengths, so I then go through those orders and I allocate specific cover projects to whoever I think best suits the brief. Both the designer and I spitball ideas until we identify a few that have legs.
All drafted designs come to me for my comments and approval, where I request changes, make suggestions or approve them as they are. It allows me to retain the original Damonza ‘feel’ in everything that we produce. They are eventually sent to the authors, who then provide feedback of their own or approve one of the drafts sent. Once everything is approved we send the final files to the author. They smile, we wink, and hopefully they remember us when they become rich and famous.
Can you share a few details about a recent Non-Fiction commission?
To be honest we’ve worked on so many great non-fiction covers that I don’t think I could single out any individual recent project. It’s like asking a parent to choose a favourite kid. Except unlike most parents, I don’t secretly have a favourite. Honestly.
Where do you draw inspiration from when planning a NF cover design?
Authors are creative types; it comes with the territory. So usually the briefing form that they fill out will provide most of the inspiration we need. We also do image research on the topic at hand, and something will generally jump out. Inspiration is an elusive beast, but we’ve found ways and means to tame it.
What is the best part about being an artist/designer in your opinion?
There are so many ‘best parts’, particularly about being a cover designer.
Every day brings a different creative project. Every book is different and every author has different tastes. We get to constantly experiment with different design styles and come up with new ideas all the time. It’s always exciting and interesting.
We also get to interact with super smart people – our authors – on a daily basis. I can’t string together more than a page of words at a time (you’re sort of seeing the dizzying heights of my writing potential as I’m answering these questions), so I can’t even begin to imagine producing a book. I’m truly amazed at the discipline, talent and variety of the authors that I get to meet every day.
Dear Authors, you guys are awesome. Congrats.
What sort of challenges do you face as an designer/artist in this industry?
The biggest challenge for me is sourcing suitable imagery. Non-fiction covers are thankfully more flexible, but finding unique and relevant images for fiction covers can be a real hassle. How many images are there of a woman holding a sword? Apparently not enough.
(Are you a woman with a sword who has always dreamt of being on the cover of a book? Hit me up).
Is there a particular type of project that you love (or outright avoid) doing?
Not specifically. Every project is so different that it’s hard to get bored or annoyed. I don’t want to sound like a bumper sticker here but every cover is its own adventure. I love them all.
When you’re not hard at work, what do you do to let of steam?
Outside of work I enjoy spending time with my kids (no, I don’t have a favourite). I try to make time to go to all their recitals, sporting events and extracurricular activities. I’m very lucky, as my time is pretty flexible. As long as deadlines are met.
Have you recently read a Non-Fiction book or article that you would recommend to me and the readers of this post?
Yes! Let me tell you about a little book that I read in 2012 that changed everything for me: The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris.
It may not work for everyone, but for my business and at that time of my life it was just the ticket. It gave me rules to live by and made what would have been a crazy 5 years so much easier. Despite the fact that my business has grown rapidly in that time, I still get to spend plenty of time with my family, I do work that I love, and I feel like I’ve never been more relaxed. I didn’t use every part of the book, but I was able to take some gems out of it that have directly resulted in the growth and success of Damonza.com.*
*That might sound like an infomercial, but can I just clarify that I’m not getting any commission from Mr Ferris here. His book is seriously that good.
Thank you again for contributing to my #NonFictionNovember event and sharing details about how you work. Your artwork and designs are excellent additions to world of books!
Thanks for stopping by to check out my special edition of my Cover Art Spotlight Series centred around Damonza and Non Fiction. I appreciate all the support for #NonFictionNovember and the cover art series. I am very grateful to Damon to take the time out of his day to share details about his work with us all. Stop by again for more NF posts in the month of November. Cheers everyone 😀