The non-writing side of writing, or building a better book cover

I haven't published yet – no money has yet come into my hands from this hobby/side project/side job called writing. So I really cannot justify (to myself) hiring an artist/graphic designer to create a book cover for me. Which means it's all on me and my two drawing classes in college, plus whatever I've taught myself using GNU's Image Manipulation Program. Also known as the free & open source answer to Photoshop.

I'll be honest. I've never thought of myself as an artist. Even while I was drawing, I felt like I was learning the technical skills reasonably well, while never having an idea of what I wanted to draw. And therefore what I wanted to say through art. Everything I drew was an assignment for class, something I decided to try to copy to learn how to draw X thing, or specifically asked for by a friend. It's why I eventually drifted away from drawing at all.

But this is a set project! With defined parameters! Hurray!

Originally I was planning to do what I did with my first project and crib the graphic design from Vintage Crime's editions of Dashiell Hammett (specifically The Thin Man, Red Harvest, and The Maltese Falcon) and Raymond Chandler novels. I was going to give the book title the place of prominence, instead of my authorial name, seeing as Hammett and Chandler can sell on the strength of their names and I cannot. And of course find appropriate Creative Commons-0 images I could use. Probably wasn't going to be knock-out graphics design, but it'd be serviceable and solid. Much like the first project. Which, upon showing to another (published) author for their thoughts, got the feedback 'solid, but I have no idea what genre this is in'.

But!, and this is why working with folks is wonderful, Caleb of Hebanon Games had an idea that literally made me sit up in my chair going 'ooh' (thanks Caleb!) - design something like the propaganda posters, either Soviet or American. Or, if I can pull it off, something that blends elements from both.

My Pinterest board for this has changed just a wee bit as a result. Before I went looking, if you said 'WW2 propaganda poster' to me, I would have been thinking of the Rosie the Riveter poster. Now I've got all the crazy American venereal disease posters and the extremely direct Soviet 'the Germans are animals, let's go kill 'em for the Motherland' floating through my head. A) Man the Americans were (are) sex-obsessed/-phobic. B) The Soviets had some fascinating design going. It's amazing.

I'd love to be mashing up an image from one (American or Soviet) and using a font from the other, but I think it'd be hard to find a (free [see above about not justifying (to myself) paying money into this project yet]) font that looks Soviet but types properly in English. Eh, I haven't gone looking for that specifically yet, so maybe it'll be easier than I fear. Free, alright for commercial use fonts that look like they're from 1940s America haven't exactly been plentiful on the ground so far, so I should probably give the Sovietized one a try too.

Just have to avoid procrastinating on actually trying to make the cover by searching for fonts.

What can I say, typography is really visually interesting to me.