Creatures Big and Small Under the Desert Sun – Edith Silva’s Creature Cover Art

I feel that Creature is the most ‘straightforward’ theme we have this year, almost deceptively so. Everyone has a creature story! Even we humans are ultimately creatures – when I think of humans-as-creatures, I become extra aware of my limbs, how silly our spine formations are and how bad our knees are, how we evolved from fish, how it feels to interact with the world and feel its textures. I think of the spider crawling on my ceiling.

A lot of Edith’s art centers on animals – skeletons, wreaths of newts, gold-leafed goats – so I wanted to let her run wild on this theme. My only certainty was the desire for it to have a Western, red-rock desert flare. I sent Edith a moodboard of what I felt were underutilized desert animals: when we Americans think of the desert, we might think of rattlers, vultures, maybe the odd mountain goat. But there are hundreds of tiny species who have adapted, sometimes bizarrely, to the desert’s climes: tiny burrowing owls, lizards, quails, tarantula hawks – the list goes on.

She sent me back over a dozen sketches! We had 3 main directions: gigantic creature, centaur, or cryptid cowboy. Below are some of the cowboy centaur ideas (used with permission) 

Ultimately, I felt that the gigantic creature would be a better fit with our previous covers this year, and I really wanted to include red-rock desert arches. Edith took inspiration from boars, roadrunners, lizards and more to add depth and detail on the final cover. Take a look and see how many you can spot!

You can find Edith on Instagram @bearensembles – her gold leaf work is exquisite!

  • Maria Schrater
    Maria Schrater First Submission Reader

    Maria Schrater is a writer & poet based in Chicago. Her work has appeared in Sycorax Journal and in Air & Nothingness Press’s Wild Hunt and Future Perfect in Past Tense anthologies. She is also an associate editor for Apparition Literary Magazine. She especially loves folklore and mythology and often works with retellings. When not writing, she can be found imitating bird calls in the woods. You can find her on Twitter @MariaSchrater.

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