One of the stories I illustrated for my thesis is The Little Mermaid. I've been working on this story for almost a year. Last year, here is the book cover I designed and painted:
I still really like this painting, but it doesn't work very well as a book cover. There's too much going on, the composition is kind of stiff and there's not enough room for text.
I struggled a lot with a design for a new cover, because I wanted to show the mermaid, with her tail, but also a closeup of her face, and I wanted to fit in the prince and maybe a castle in the background, you know? I got frustrated with a lot of designs that just kind of sucked. I was starting to wonder if I had lost my artistic groove. That desperation caused me to finally let go of my many self-imposed requirements and focus on something simple.
If you haven't read the original story, the mermaid is a tragic, saint-like character, not at all the rebellious redhead of the Disney movie. Andersen describes her as "a strange child, quiet and thoughtful," always dreaming and longing for the surface world. The new cover better depicts the sad-sweet mood of the story, and also has a lot more room for text!
I actually think of the mermaid as a sort of Christ figure. I was going to write in my thesis book all sorts of deep thoughts about the parallels between Jesus Christ and the little mermaid. But that sort of pretentious monologue belongs in the fine art department. Ain't nobody in the illustration department got time for that.