Can you judge a book by its cover? Let’s take a look behind the jeans of Social PR Secrets.
When I was writing Social PR Secrets, How to Optimize, Socialize and publicize a brand’s news, one of the factors I strongly considered was the visual storytelling aspect of the book cover and chapter introductions.
I asked myself: how can I give this book a personality? After studying many business book covers, both ebook and print version, I found that most seemed to not take too much consideration into book cover visual creativity. With all the staggering statistics over visual social media, it was apparent to me that the visual first impression was critical.
Images are the most shared links on Twitter, Facebook posts perform 50% better with images and press releases including an image or a video get shared three times more than text-only releases. I made a very deliberate decision to make sure my Social PR Secrets book was the opposite of boring and included more than charts, clip art and screenshots.
“With digital books, the cover (which becomes the front cover) is even MORE critical, because so much more of the customer’s decision to drill deeper and learn more about the book (i.e. read the blurb, check out the rating and reviews, etc) hinges on their initial reaction to the cover,” noted by Michael Kozlowski, the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader, in a recent post.
Meet Deep Cereal, Illustrator Behind Social PR Secrets
By day Lauren Litwinka (@beebow) is a social media community manager extraordinaire for Third Door Media (producers of SMX) and co-author of The Complete Community Manager’s Guide book. But, by night she pulls out her digital paint and turns into her creative alter ego – Deep Cereal. I met Lauren a few years ago via Twitter where she is best known as @beebow, her witty Twitter personality is magnetic. Prior to joining the SMX team, Lauren made a name for herself live Tweeting and blogging as aimClear’s content manager and her Community Manager Ninja-like skills.
Dare to be Different
Collaborating with Deep Cereal to illustrate Social PR Secrets, my first book in a series, was an easy choice and gave me the opportunity to add a visual personality to the book. From the cover to the chapter intros, Lauren illustrates the theme and mood of each section.
The Social PR Secrets Behind Deep Cereal
Share some of your thoughts about illustrating Social PR Secrets and why you collaborated with Lisa Buyer for the book illustrations.
I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Lisa for several years now. She’s a total sweetheart and a brilliant professional. We’ve spoken together at online marketing workshops– I’ve seen her passion and smarts, specifically about the intersection of social media and PR. When she approached me to do illustrations for her forthcoming book, I was completely jazzed to be a part of the project.
Visuals are all the talk now, what are some tips you can give to brands about using visuals in storytelling?
Visuals can mean many things nowadays. For Social PR Secrets, my mission was to create a friendly, familiar character that would serve as a guide to readers as they navigated the pages and soaked up the insight Lisa had to share. If artists out there have a similar objective, I’d say just keep it simple – keep readers interested, make them smile, do your best to represent the content without beating it over the head.
But if we’re talking about visuals as a whole… I’d say… the same rules apply for written content – convey rich information in as engaging and memorable a way as possible.
How did you come up with the name Deep Cereal?
Golly, you know, I don’t even remember. I can picture myself almost a decade ago tossing around aurally-teasing phrases for the heck of it and happening upon “Deep Sea Cereal,” which was eventually shortened to “Deep Cereal,” or, as I like to think of it, “Deep… See? Real.” Can you make sense of that? Me either.
Tell us a little about your artistic background – when did you start, how often do you draw. How do you come up with your characters and ideas?
Oh, geez… when did I start drawing… probably about a billion years ago when I was in kindergarten. That’s when I illustrated my first book, The Dog Book. Impressive, I know. In fact, hang on a sec, I think I have it around somewhere.
And I guess since then I drew just about as much as many other youngster, that is to say, quite frequently. Sleepy flowers, pouncing cats, skeletons waltzing with elf princesses, houses, trees filled with birds, and, of course… ponies.
The work I do as Deep Cereal has always felt different, certainly, more purposeful, more motivated by some unseen, fantastical force — and that type of drawing, I guess, I began around the age of nineteen. That’s when “Deep Cereal” was born, anyway. I’d say that’s when I began drawing at least once a day. Not like I create a masterpiece, or a finished piece for that matter, every day… but I do draw every day. Sometimes it’s a little love note doodle for my sweetheart, or a simple self portrait of me and my cat. Other times, I set out to tackle an intricate illustration, you know, chase some vision in my head, and I don’t stop until I capture it completely.
Characters and ideas come from everywhere. The neighbor next door, the kid behind me in the grocer’s checkout line. They come from photographs I see in books, musings and suggestions from my fellow… and things I want to see in the world, but haven’t. Then once I draw them, whoops, there they are!
Did you take art classes?
Oh yes, but just the usual elementary and high school requirements. I’m thankful for them, and indebted to those teachers. They each taught me, in their own way, that no matter what other people say, art and artistic endeavors are the nourishment for the soul and righteous causes.
What is your favorite illustration?
Jeepers, that’s a questions no one’s asked me, and a tough question at that. Can I choose my top three? They’re from different chapters or compartments of my brain, different mediums and very different feelings, I think.
This little fellow was created a week or so after I got my first drawing tablet and began to tinker around with digital paint. He’s the first truly finished piece I made with that medium. He’s like a spirit guide, in that regard– mon petit rouge. (Artist’s note / secret: I was having such a hard time getting his hind leg just right, I decided to throw a tree in there instead.)
Here is one of my favorite watercolors. I painted it one night after I had made, you guessed it, pork chops for dinner for the first time. As I unpacked the chops from the grocer’s, I thought how much they looked like two haves of the same heart. And there you have it.
An ink and paper self-portrait, featuring my sleepy cat and a glass of Merlot (in hindsight, the shape of that glass is all out of wack) upon completing a very large art project.
Where can someone buy your artwork?
I have a shop on Society6 where folks can purchase prints of various sorts (and even a throw pillow here and there!). I’m also branching out to Etsy, where I’ve just recently listed a 2014 wall calendar for sale.
What mediums and techniques do you use?
For mediums I use mostly digital paint, watercolor, and ink and paper. Techniques, techniques… well, with watercolor, I like to mostly do wet on wet, meaning I brush the paper with water, then add more wet paint to the canvas. Splattering and holding the canvas up so the paint drips down like rain on a window is always fun, too. (But my earlier watercolors were wet on dry, meaning I painted a dry canvas with a wet paintbrush– which almost felt like coloring more than painting.) With digital paint, I’m pretty straight forward, just using a pen effect and working with bold black strokes on a white canvas. Every now and then I’ll use a smeary or blurry effect on certain spots. I feel my digital paint is by far some of my most cartoonish / comic-booky work, so it’s fun to escape there. With pen and paper, I like to zoom into sections of the canvas and chip away at them piece by piece. Here, I like to use lots of lines to show movement and texture. These works are by far my most intricate, and sometimes, I think, the ones that reveal me the most.
Who is your favorite artist?
I love the work of so many artists, but one of my favorites over many years is surely Frida Kahlo. I am as in love with her heartbreakingly intimate work as I am with her incredible life story.
Do you have a favorite museum?
These are not easy questions! If I have to choose one… it’s the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels, Belgium. Many fond memories there.
Tell us your favorite movie
Uhhhhh! Very hard to answer. Hmmmmmmm. I don’t have one favorite, but one of my favorites is Stroszek.
And may we ask you favorite book?
I’d sooner choose a favorite organ in my body! But since you ask….anything by Vonnegut and everything by Hemingway. And Selected Poems of Anne Sexton.
Please share your top 3 songs in your playlist?
You’re not making this easy, are you? Here’s three favorites among many of some of my three favorite musicians:
- Last Horse On The Sand, Dirty Three
- Peacock Tail, Boards of Canada
- Lush Life, John Coletrane
They kill me every time.
Cheers, what is your favorite wine?
Ghost Pines, Cabernet Sauvignon
Where do you like to eat?
One of my new favorites is a little joint called Shore Fresh Seafood on the inlet at Point Pleasant Beach on the Jersey Shore. Sit outside at picnic tables in plastic chairs, eat with plastic forks and knives, BYOB, uhhhmayyyzingly fresh fish served up in all kinds of ways. Oh and also, hand-cut homemade fries that are to die for.
Current position/title when not drawing for Deep Cereal
Ready to be part of the Social PR Secrets book? You can buy your print version here on Amazon.
OR – Here is the visual story of inside Social PR Secrets with Deep Cereal and Lisa Buyer.