Rovina Cai is a freelance illustrator from Melbourne, Australia. She creates intriguing images that make you linger, hungry to know the story behind them. Her work is often inspired by the past; from fairy tales to gothic novels, these stories resonate with her because they bring a little bit of magic and wonder to the present day. Rovina has worked with an eclectic range of clients, including The Folio Society, Riot Games, and Tor.com. In her spare time, she can be found poring over old books trying to find stories to illustrate, or working on eccentric craft projects.
What was your introduction to working in the field of science fiction and fantasy art? Who were your influences; was there a particular artist or artists who drew you in?I read a lot of fantasy novels growing up, and it was mostly because I was drawn to the covers! Something that is particularly vivid in my memory is John Howe’s cover art for the Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb. I loved the way the main illustration was framed with smaller vignettes around the border; the cover wasn’t just an image, but told a story and made me want to open the book. This is something I now try to do with my own work, I’m always trying to convey a story or emotion and to create something that will make people want to find out more.
Are you excited or concerned about the impact digital media and digital books might have on traditional crafts and the role of the cover artist? How do you use digital media in your own workflow?
I’m really excited to see how digital media will change the way people interact with stories and artwork. For example, there’s so much potential in interactive or animated e-books. It’s a unique way of telling a story, and I’d love to see more of it both as an illustrator and as a reader. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I do love physical books, and actually still prefer them when it comes to my own reading. It seems like the popularity of e-books has encouraged the production of more ‘‘special’’ printed books (as an incentive for readers to buy them). There are now so many deluxe editions out there that are beautifully designed and illustrated, and I love those just as much as all the new forms of digital media.
Is there something about what you do as an artist working in the SF field, or an upcoming project, that you’d like to tell our readers about?
I’ve just wrapped up illustrating a picture book! It’s called Tintinnabula, and is written by Australian SF/F writer Margo Lanagan. One of my favourite things about illustration is getting to delve into a writer’s ‘‘world,’’ and it has been a delight to explore Margo’s. Her work has a haunting, melancholic quality to it, which is quite similar to what I aim to evoke with my own work, so it felt like the perfect project from the start. The most satisfying projects for me are those that truly feel like a collaboration: where the author and artist are both able to contribute their own ideas, so that the words and images play off of each other. This was very much the case with this picture book, and I can’t wait to share it with people when it is released later this year.