an interview with Penelope Dullaghan
We would love to highlight one of your projects. Could you walk us through the creation of your recent book cover project?
What were some of the thoughts that fueled the direction of the concept?
The book is about 9-year-old Ruthie who gets into a car accident and breaks her leg so badly, she needs to wear a full-body cast for a year in order to heal. She gets depressed, being stuck indoors everyday, but has lots of multi-cultural neighbors and friends who help her through.
So my idea was to give an overall feel for Ruthie being stuck indoors, but surrounded by a flourishing neighborhood with people doing lots of things – biking, gardening, playing, reading. I wanted it to feel happy and bright as Ruthie is in the story, being surrounded by people who support her. I brought in flowers as a way to give a nod to her Cuban upbringing and to reference Ruthie’s growth and change throughout the story.
How do you approach the process of understanding your client’s needs?
I love getting information upfront about what the project entails and hearing about the client’s ideas. Sometimes they have a clear idea, and other times they want me to dream up possibilities (I like both approaches!). In either case, I do a handful of sketches looking for an overall direction that feels right and we collaborate to narrow it down and bring it to life.
For this book cover, art director Kristin Smith had a few specific ideas that she wanted to see. It was a great place to start – they were great ideas! – and it all evolved from there. I did some loose sketches that we liked and made into tight sketches, but in the end we went in a completely different direction based on some marker work I was playing with in my sketchbook. That was fun for me – taking experimental, playful experiments into a client project. It ended up feeling very energetic, fun and free!
What do you do to create a comfortable and effective communication experience with your clients?
I am an email aficionado. 🙂
How would you describe the feeling you get when you know your client is happy with your work?
It’s great! I love the whole process – from initial inquiry to final artwork. And I love it when I know I hit the mark and the client loves the work. It’s especially lovely when a client comes back for another project. That rapport is something I aim for.
What is it about your style that make brands want to work with you?
I hope that my style is unique, interesting and solidly consistent. My work is textured and painterly and uses eye-catching color combinations to, ideally, catch the eye of the intended audience.
Click to see Penelope Dullaghan’s portfolio
Penelope’s thought process and sketches