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Meet Cover Designer and Book Illustrator Savina Mantovska

Among the Headstones editor/publisher Rayne Hall interviews artist Savina Mantovska.

How long have you been an artist, Savina? Where did you learn your craft?

I studied Applied Art in high school, and then I studied at and graduated from the National Academy of Art in Sofia (Bulgaria). So I’ve been an artist for about twenty years.

A young man with a backpack walks in a cemetery
Illustration by Savina Mantovska

You create covers and illustrations for books. What draws you to this art form?

I like to collaborate with writers. I find the flow of creative ideas between artists of different art forms stimulating. It is exciting to see an image created from text.

Some of your work – including the book covers for Among the Headstones : Creepy Tales from the Graveyard and The Bride’s Curse: Bulgarian Gothic Ghost and Horror Stories – are distinctly Gothic. What do you like about creating Gothic-themed art?

The mystical atmosphere and the dark colours.

What creeps you out?

Flowing blood and narrow spaces.

Do you process creepy experiences in your creative works?

I keep them out of my art.

When a client hires you to create a book cover, what information do you need to create it?

I need the manuscript as well as a summary of the scene the author wants me to illustrate. I also want to know what illustration technique the client prefers. For example, the client may show me book covers or illustrations they like, and say, ‘something in this style’.

When illustrating stories, do you prefer it if the client gives you specific instructions what to draw, or would you rather read the story and come up with your own idea how to interpret it?

I prefer to read the story first, and let it make an impression on me. Then I create a sketch, and the exchange of ideas with the writer begins.

Do you enjoy reading Gothic, Horror, ghost stories, creepy and scary literature? ? If yes, do you have a favourite author, or a favourite kind of story?

Although I Don’t have a favourite author, I like to read scary stories. One of my favourite scary books is The Witches by Roald Dahl.

What’s your ambition as an artist? What do you want to achieve in the next few years?

I want to further develop my skills as an illustrator.

Do you have any exhibitions or events coming up, either in physical venues or online?

I participate in printmaking exhibition in Italy- Dante 2021-“Divine comedy” – places and heroes from Tuschia and Orvieto. And one more exhibition in Botevgrad, Bulgaria- Stamen Panchev in pictures - poetry illustration.

Where can people see more of your art? How can they contact you?

A woman looks through a window
Illustration by Savina Mantovska

A photograph of the artist
Savina Mantovska


Savina Mantovska is a graduate of the Sofia Academy of Arts and lives in Sofia (Bulgaria). Books illustrated by her include Fairy Tales and Poems by Evelina Miteva, The Bride’s Curse: Bulgarian Gothic Ghost and Horror Stories by Rayne Hall, Questions by Evelina Miteva and Among the Headstones: Creepy Tales from the Graveyard edited by Rayne Hall.

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