Marta Dec – your friendly book designer, always here to help you make your book a reality.

Piła/Poznań, Poland
marta@martadec.eu

A 2020 summary – Art & Design

Welcome to 2021 – goodbye 2020!

2020 left us all with a bad aftertaste in our mouths, but one thing certainly did happen – we were forced to navigate a very different reality than the one we knew before.

I admit that at the beginning of the year, I was afraid new leads were going to dry up – who was going to publish books now, when businesses were closing and people were losing jobs? I started exploring new alternatives and thinking of expanding the range of services I offer. At first, I agreed to every project I could – which ended mostly with me needing rest desperately. It turned out, however, that the pandemic was actually not so catastrophic for the publishing industry – things changed, certainly, but the world still went on.

By the end of the year, my situation also changed quite significantly – both when it came to personal art and my design business. And when I started reflecting back on those developments, I decided a short summary might be in order.

Design & Business

  1. I registered as an official business and a VAT payer.

Up until now, I was both working and studying – which came with a few benefits, such as my health insurance being take care of by my university. Since I graduated from my MA programme in the fall, this privilige was no longer mine to take advantage of. I could have chosen to pay for an individual health insurance, but after considering all the pros and cons, I decided on a different path – I opened a firm.

I had been working as a freelancer for over 6 years so far, and with time, I managed to turn it into a stable and succesful business. Registering officially as a one-person company didn’t really change much in my day-to-day work or relationships with clients, but it did require a few adjustments. Those included, among others: paying slightly higher taxes and learning a lot (and I mean a lot…) about accounting (or, more aptly named, black magic). I also gained the ability to issue VAT invoices – with meant that I no longer needed an intermediary for that, and so no longer needed to give up a cut of my earnings.

2. I ended my collaboration with SAGA Egmont.

SAGA was the first big, traditional publisher I worked with – one that published both new titles and classics, and required a high output and a very specific style. I worked on roughly 5 covers a week for them since 2018. Since then, though, my life has changed – a lot! Hopefully, that will continue to happen in 2021 – and since I have rather ambitious plans for this year, I decided it’s time to move on. I definitely consider my time with SAGA a worthwile learning experience, though – it was great to see how a big publishing house works.

Image of a book cover with a smiling woman in the centre, in shades of purple - "Alice Adams" by Booth Tarkington, which I designed in 2020.

3. I connected with great people and was offered several exciting opportunities.

A side effect of the pandemic was that I was more active than usual on social media and on the Internet in general. This, in turn, gave me the opportunity to connect with more than one awesome person, and work on several projects I’m really proud of. I’m especially grateful to all the clients who come back to me to work on their new books – and for every referral!

Book cover for a cookbook by La Detra White - "Gardening with Joy".
Book cover for D. H. Dunn - "Emerald Hunt", a fantasy novel.

Art

  1. I bought an Ipad and switched to painting entirely in Procreate – which helped me to significantly develop my skills.

At first, buying an Ipad seemed like a very self-indulgent decision – I read a lot of raving reviews about how good it was for painting, and I was simply curious to experience it myself. It turned out the praise was well deserved – painting in Procreate really is very intuitive and smooth, and I quickly fell in love with the app.

Currently, I paint pretty much exclusively on the Ipad – and since I no longer have to sit at my desk to paint and can do it pretty much anywhere, I also do it much more often. I spend most of my evenings sitting comfortably on a sofa, watching films and scribbling. The increased frequency of drawing also meant that I was able to work on studies more consistently. I completed, for example, a small project that I called “Face the Light” – a series of ~20 portraits of people of various ages and skin colours in different lighting. I analysed the way the light worked and interacted with skin and the environment – which helped me gain a much better understanding of it and raise the quality of not only my paintings, but also photomanipulations.

Digital painting of a viking woman in winter mountains.
  1. I made art for good causes.

2020 was, in my country, a tumultous year not only because of the pandemic, but also because of the subject of minority and women’s rights. Since due to my health I couldn’t participate in protests in person, I shared everything I could on the subjects with others – and created my own small contributions to both causes.

Photomanipulation of a cosy sci-fi scene with  a lesbian couple on a space station, with spaceships and planets in the background.
A photomanipulation made in support of LGBT+ protests in my country.
  1. I improved my 3D skills.

After I was finally done with my MA, I had a bit more time to myself – and so I used it to force myself to remind myself how Blender works and how to use it. I still have a long way to go, but I was able to include 3D elements that I modeled and rendered in more than one personal artwork last year – and on several covers!

Photomanipulation showing two children looking at a glowing, blue pond with a ghost of a deer in the centre.

Hello, 2021!

I’m entering the New Year ready for new projects and opportunities! December brought several new offers, some of which I’m very excited about – I’ll be working on very varied projects, both when it comes to genre and style.

My main resolution? To learn, and to write – articles, tutorials, meaningful and useful posts. Hopefully, this year we’ll see an end to the pandemic!