the vestigial tales

It’s been a long time since I’ve had any illustration work to share here, but over the past few months I’ve had the incredibly fun job of illustrating the covers for the Vestigial Tales, a series of short stories by my childhood friend Laura Lam. The Tales are stories and novellas of varying lengths set within the fantasy world of Ellada, a world Laura introduced with her young adult novels Pantomime and Shadowplay (there is a third, as-yet-unfinished full length novel in that series). I love Laura’s writing, and the kid inside me still loves fantasy, so it’s no surprise that I loved Laura’s books as well. Here are the covers:


The Snake CharmThe Tarot Reader, and The Card Sharp all focus on characters found in Pantomime and Shadowplay – in a sense, they’re little prequels, filling in backstory. The Fisherman’s Net is a sort of Elladan fairy tale. Ellada is a world that was once inhabited and ruled by the Alder—mysterious beings who vanished, leaving behind only scattered artifacts of unknown power, called Vestige. Vestige artifacts feature in all of these stories (and in fact, on their covers as well), hence the Vestigial tales. Because Ellada is a world of circus and magic and fortune telling, we decided to fashion the covers after tarot cards, using the infamous Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck (now in the public domain) as a style guide and source of inspiration.

The Tales are being released in ebook format only at this point, and it was interesting illustrating and designing for a digital-only release. As an owner of an original Kindle Touch, with the unlit black and white screen, I wanted to make sure these rendered well in that format, which was always in the back of my mind. I also drew these out on paper first before scanning the linework and coloring digitally, which isn’t typically my method for illustrating (though it is for hand lettering). It was really nice to get back to pen and paper, and I’m quite fond of what the covers and their pieces look like in their plain linework WIP forms:


I’d love to collaborate again with Laura in the future, and I’m so grateful for the chance to work on something so different than what I normally do. It was great fun and I really enjoyed the stories, as well (for the record, The Tarot Reader is my favorite). If you’re interested in the sound of Laura’s writing I encourage you to head over to her website to learn more about her books. US Amazon links follow:


The Snake Charm
The Fisherman’s Net
The Tarot Reader
The Card Sharp

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