There's an interesting discussion of cover art over on Nethermore. Isaac Stewart talks pretty candidly, albeit pretty humorously, about what works and what doesn't for him, using a batch of recent covers as an example. Obviously, these are his subjective views - how could they not be - but you all know I'm very glad to see interest in/discussion of book cover art in general.
I'm still cracking up over his alignment wheel of "goodness" and "badness". God, we all owe so much of how we see the world to Gary Gygax, don't we? (I try to be Chaotic Good, but sometimes I slide into Chaotic Neutral, it's true).
And, obviously, I'm pleased to hear this: "Watch Tor books and Pyr books. These two are the best in the industry for good design and good art. Pyr is still a little hit and miss, but when they nail a cover, they hammer the goodness spot on." Isaac also points out the grand service that Tor art director Irene Gallo is doing for the entire industry, for artists, publishers and readers alike, just by running her blog, The Art Department. Her blog is one of the few blogs to make the Lou List of "required daily reading." (Aside: the others are Whatever, Roberson's Interminable Ramble, and Locus Online.)
Meanwhile, I just picked up my own copy of, and can't recommend highly enough, the new
Quantumscapes: The Art of Stephan Martiniere. While Martiniere's first book, Quantum Dreams,seemed to highlight mostly the cover illustration work for which he is primarily known in our industry, this book devotes a sizeable chunk of its pages to the creature designs he's done in the gaming and movie industry, aptly demonstrating the range of his talent. The two books fit together nicely to highlight the career of one of my personal favorite artists in the field.