- by Dara Girard
I’m an artist, photographer, and graphic designer. I’m a sucker for trying new things even if I might not do it well. I made a decision a few years ago to make a goal to learn something new each year. Last year it was knitting, this time around it’s playing the guitar. Life’s too short not to do everything you’ve desired to do at least once. I don’t let fear stop me from trying. I live by the words: Live with purpose, love with passion.
As far as my background, I’m a self-taught graphic designer with over 20 years experience in marketing, advertising, and promotions. I’ve held positions as a Creative and Marketing Director in a corporate environment and worked as an Art Director for Parker Publishing. I’ve also freelance as a cover artist for several ePublishers.
Jaxadora Design is my graphics boutique specializing in web and print design, mostly for authors, writers, and artists. Lately, it seems, I’ve been doing more book covers for eBook and print. It’s sort of therapeutic for me and a wonderful break from my writing deadlines.
What was the inspiration for your business name Jaxadora Design?
Truthfully, it’s a bit hazy…I was living in Paris at the time when I had a discussion with my comic book artist friend about his current project. Somehow we were throwing out character names and silly combination of things. Then he said something about adoring me. I made a joke by combining my name ‘Jax’ and ‘adora’. I thought it was genius and it kind of stuck. I knew I wanted it for my company name and have also used it for a series of artwork called Jaxadora Girls, sketches of women who are sassy and live jet-setting lifestyles.
What are some of the questions authors should ask when selecting a cover designer?
Clients should ask to see a portfolio. Nowadays, designers have online portfolios featured on their website or social media that you can preview before making a decision. This will give you an idea of their experience and background. It’s also a way to see if you like their artistic style. I’d also ask for client references to get truthful feedback about their experience with the designer. Chances are, if you were referred to them, it’s a good sign the client had a great experience.
Keep in mind that you pay for what you get. If the covers are inexpensive, chances are they’re designed by those new to the cover design business and are building on their portfolio. If you don’t mind going another route to save money, some designers offer pre-made cover templates that may do the job. The more seasoned designers charge a slightly higher price scale but it’s based on experience and demand.
You helped launch the multicultural/multi-ethnic line for Parker Publishing and you’ve also designed many of their covers. Which came first and how?
I was invited to be an author for Parker Publishing to help expand their African-American line to a more multicultural one. This was a great step forward for them and would also help attract a wider readership. I’ve always wanted to write ethnic characters, and at the time, there weren’t a lot of publishers that I knew of who were acquiring these types of books. After working with the publisher, I was offered an amazing opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I was able to utilize my experience and background to help the publisher rebrand and grow.
I served as the Art Director for approximately two years and focused on implementing the rebrand by giving the publish er a fresh new look and style. The entire development was fascinating and extremely fun, yet challenging. During that timeframe, almost all the covers generated were designed by me—frankly, because I’m a perfectionist and it was something I enjoyed doing. It was definitely a great learning experience that gave me a broader perspective about what goes into publishing a book. My respect for publishers increased even more after seeing first-hand what they have to face on a daily basis. It’s definitely eye opening.
You’ve had various interests and careers such as being an actress, production assistant, screenwriter and photographer. Are there new career paths you’d like to try in the future?
Writing will always be my first love and I don’t see myself not doing it. I’ve always been fascinated by the entertainment industry and I’d love to get back into screenwriting again. A goal for me is to make my own indie film one day, maybe even form a production company…however long it may take, it’ll happen. There’s always something beautiful about creating, and as a filmmaker, it’s almost like playing God. You get to build everything from scratch and have the power to do it any style you choose, and in your own vision.
But—there are so many other things I want to accomplish…like have another art show, design clothes, save the world…
Between writing and visual art, which is your favorite creative outlet and why?
Gosh…that’s a tough one. I choose both! I think it goes hand-in-hand. When I write, I see everything visually, and when I do visual art, I see the words scroll across my mind. It’s sort of natural for me to bounce from one to the other to get the creative juices flowing.
Aside from writing and art you’re also the co-founder of RomanceDivas.com. Can you tell us a little more about why you started the site and what it’s about?
When I started writing my first manuscript, I didn’t know where to begin. Luckily, I found a few general writing websites to help me get started with the basics but felt a bit lost. I quickly joined an online forum and met my co-founder, Kristen Painter, there. We just clicked from the start and it soon became apparent this forum didn’t offer what we both needed. It focused too much on being strict and all business with no room for getting personal and forming friendships. We were—er, chastised, for having too much fun on the forum and asked to leave. Frankly, we were appalled by the reaction. How can there not be a place online that offered a balance of both professionalism and fun for writers? The only choice we had was to create our own world. That’s when we put our heads together and within 24 hours of our decision, our virtual community was born.
Romance Divas far exceeded our expectations. Within the first month or so we had about 600 members and 4 months later our forum blew up when we were chosen as “101 Best Websites for Writers” by Writer’s Digest. I think we had over 2 million hits that month, which crashed our forum and our hosting company basically asked us politely to leave. We had taken down all their client sites in one fell swoop! I had to rebuild the forum twice but the third time has been a charm. We’re now into our 7th year and it’s still doing remarkably well.
We consistently get over 3 million hits a month for our website and discussion forum which is always amazing to me. Trust me, I don’t take RD for granted and I continue to do my best to improve the site each year. Our philosophy and vision continues to be passed on to the new members through veteran members and our incredible team of Administrators and Moderators. We are one of a few sites that have live moderators and I think this really helps to emphasize our goal to make the discussion forum a safe and intimate environment. No matter how much we’ve grown, we’re still a tight-knit virtual family.
I would have to say Romance Divas is one of my proudest accomplishments.
The motto on your site is “Live with purpose…love with passion.” How do you think people can infuse this statement into their lives?
Live with purpose…It’s pretty cut and dry. In this life, one should want to make an imprint on the world for the better. Whether you give your time to charity or help a friend or neighbor in need, it is being proactive about living a life with purpose. I know that everyone will die sooner or later, but I want to know that I’ve lived my life as the best person that I can be.
Love with passion…I think that when you love, in relationships or any aspect of your life, you should give your whole heart regardless of consequences. Don’t think, don’t hesitate. Just go with it because everything you experience, through loving with passion, will enrich your life. It opens your eyes to things that you wouldn’t normally see and I believe it helps you become a better person.
I always say life is short and it’s true. If you don’t live each second with purpose and passion, it could all be taken away. I’ve lost many loved ones in a blink of an eye so I’m not going to waste any time, not if I can help it.
Anything else you’d like to share?
As a matter of fact—I’ve written a short story, SHIBUYA MOMENT, set in Tokyo, and all author proceeds will go to charity. You can find out more about this current release and what I’m doing to help the relief effort in Japan by visiting my website at: www.jaxcassidy.com
Design site: www.jaxadoradesign.com
Facebook portfolio: www.facebook.com/jaxadoradesign