Cover Reveal of BLESSING’S BEAD + Interview with Cover Artist Nasugraq Rainey Hopson

Today we are so excited to reveal the new cover for Blessing’s Bead by Debby Dahl Edwardson! Available in paperback on June 29, 2022, this acclaimed middle-grade novel traces four generations of an Inupiaq family in Alaska. In this blog post, we interviewed cover artist Nasugraq Rainey Hopson about the cover creation process and the significance of incorporating Inupiaq cultural elements into her work.

Without further ado, here is the gorgeous new cover for Blessing’s Bead!

Cover art by Nasugraq Rainey Hopson, cover design by Christine Kettner.

Q&A with Cover Artist Nasugraq Rainey Hopson

L&L: What was it about Blessing’s Bead that made you interested in illustrating the cover?

NRH: I am honored to have the opportunity to illustrate the cover of a book that I know will be seen by young Inupiat and non-Inupiat alike.  The main modern-day character lives in a world that I myself grew up in, I might even have known her or kids like her. I know firsthand what impact a book cover can have on kids like me when it portrays our culture.  It is vital that it is uplifting to our people as well as inspiring to non-Inupiat. 

L&L: What was the first step you took in creating the cover? What was the final step?

Cover Artist Nasugraq Rainey Hopson

NRH: I talked with the creatives involved with the cover to get a sense of what they were looking for, things that would inspire the artwork.  Then I drew up a few sketches that had various poses an that emphasized different aspects of the book.  From these sketches we moved forward, slowly eliminating and/or adding elements that would eventually make the finished cover. The final step was a bunch of smaller changes and adjustments, and are usually pretty technical rather than artistic. 

L&L: What medium(s) of art did you use to create the cover and what was your process in employing them?

NRH: I used ink brush pens, colored pencils, watercolor and photoshop to create the cover art.  I enjoy starting from ‘traditional mediums’ and then use photoshop to adjust the colors and textures.  Starting from these more physical mediums usually gives the image a more natural and spontaneous look that is a big part of my art style. I scan the hand drawn images and textures into the computer and then go from there, with tons of feedback from the creative team at Lee and Low.  

L&L: Blessing’s Bead follows Inupiaq characters. Being Inupiaq yourself, what influences did this have on your creation of the cover?

NRH: I wanted to try and include elements in to the drawing that would feel real to the Inupiaq youth that will be seeing it.  More often than not when our culture is portrayed in media that we don’t have influence over, it results in an image that is not relatable to people that actually live the culture every day.  My aim was to make sure that Blessing did not become something unrelatable to our youth, even in their imaginations.

L&L: What was the easiest part of creating the cover, and what was the most difficult part?

NRH: The easiest part was the subject matter and Inupiaq elements.  As an artist I LOVE adding cultural elements and twists to an image and I love that challenge in my work.  The hardest part would probably be letting go of elements that were not going to work in the finished image.  But I had trust in the team at Lee and Low and it wasn’t that hard to do.

L&L: What do you hope for readers to see when they first lay eyes on Blessing’s Bead?

NRH: I hope they are intrigued by the cultural differences and the world she lives in, but I hope they love her because of the similarities they have with her and her story.  

You can find Nasugraq Rainey Hopson on…

Instagram:  @nasugraqhopson
Twitter: @nasugraq
TikTok: @Nasugraq

Pre-order Blessing’s Bead here:

Barnes & Noble

Share your thoughts on the cover in the comments!