Beyond Body & Soul | Illustrating a novel by Judie Stein


When Judie asked me to illustrate the cover of her new novel Beyond Body & Soul, how could I say no! Judie had a strong idea of what she wanted so she sent me over a visual. The visual was of a model whose photographic image had been ripped into pieces and rearranged. I was given the freedom to illustrate it in any medium I chose. I opted for watercolour pencils with the idea that I might possibly add ink and water later on. That decision meant that I could keep it quite tight to start with and grunge it up afterwards if necessary.

I first encountered Judie through a mutual friend who suggested to her that I might be the answer to her prayer, she was looking for a designer. Judie was the founder, through the Stein Family Foundation, of an amazing project in Los Angeles to convert an old storeroom within the Valley Presbyterian Hospital, one of the largest hospitals in the San Fernando Valley, into a sanctuary for children and their families.

I designed a unique fairytale English railway station theme that consisted of floor to ceiling graphics that were digitally sent to a Los Angeles interior designer, who put it altogether. At the opening ceremony the famous actor Goran Visnjic agreed to cut the ribbon and officially open The Bluebell Railway Playroom.

Watch the video of the opening here:

Judie is an author and actress in her own right who has been working on a new novel called ‘Beyond Body & Soul’. A pacey, vibrant story involving the glamorous but cutthroat life of a supermodel, with themes including brain washing, mind control and out of body experiences. Compounded by an avalanche of power, lust and greed – all good stuff!

I have spent the majority of my working life as a graphic designer, honing my skills in Photoshop and other design programmes winning recognition both nationally and internationally. As an artist I use the computer skills that I have developed over the years when composing many of my paintings. Working initially on my Mac to perfect my ideas before transferring to canvas.

In deciding what to do for Judie’s book I found myself sitting in my studio without the luxury to a professional model to sketch from. So I decided eventually that the answer was to do a ‘Frida Kahlo’ and use my own face. Some critics of Frida portrayed her as a super-narcissist for the number of paintings she produced of herself! Well working as an artist without any budget for hiring models or photography shoots and having the benefit of an interesting face staring at you in the mirror or capturing it in a selfie; it was a no brainer! So after a quick make-up job and a few snaps on my phone I found myself fully immersed in the world of photo-retouching and compositional magic.

Once I had determined upon the definitive image to work from I began softly penciling in the details. I was half way through the illustration when I realised that it was working so well as a pencil drawing that I needn’t do anything else to it. Sometimes it’s not what you put in but what you leave out! The colours were subtle and slightly washed out giving it an ethereal impression which I felt perfectly suited the story.

Sending it over to Judie and getting a very excited and positive response I started on the design of the cover itself, adding in the heading and text to give it the right look and feel to complement the picture and sensibility to the narrative. Both of us are thrilled with the end product and when the last few words have been polished, and published, I’m hoping to be able to put up a link for you to buy and read it yourself.