Mel Massey Interviews Artist Dustin Compton

Nat RussoArtists, Cover, Guest Posts Leave a Comment

            Hello Necromancers! Remember me? Mel Massey, author of the EARTH’S MAGICK series has invaded the lair of the Necromancer once again. The next installment for the EARTH’S MAGICK series just came out – DECKER. It’s a companion novel to the series, all about the life of one of the part human characters named Decker. He’s over 2,000 years old and has a penchant for fighting (and beheading folks). As well as a desire to train Mela, the main character of the EARTH’S MAGICK series, in all things pertaining to war.  

            After I wrote DECKER, I had to submit the cover art information to my publisher. I knew I wanted Decker to be on the cover – correction – I wanted him to be the cover. However, that was a tall order. Decker is an ancient warrior with a unique description. I knew the limitations of the cover artists. What was I to do? I asked myself if I could compromise on the cover. The answer was no. However, I didn’t want to be THAT author and make unreasonable demands on the artists either. So, I went shopping for my very own artist.  


Decker Book Cover

Decker Book Cover, by artist Dustin Compton


            I posted to Facebook asking people to send me artwork, or friends who were artists. I received a few options but nothing really jumped out and smacked me. Then, I received a message from Dustin Compton along with his website address saying he’d be happy to discuss working together. I was blown away by his work. Dustin is a horror artist and his creations were dark and macabre. Just the way I wanted the cover for DECKER to look. I was terrified to ask what he charged. I sent him an idea of what I wanted then waited. I was preparing myself for a letdown because I knew I didn’t want to spend $100’s or $1,000’s of dollars. When he wrote me back and quoted me his price, I was over the moon. I could do that! How exciting! What a relief…

            Dustin and I worked together for weeks talking about Decker, talking about options for coloring, pose, swords, everything. He was a joy to work with. Along the way, he sent me his work in progress sketches, and was very patient as I oohed and ahhed over them. Then asked for changes. Ha! We finally had the amazing image you see on the cover of DECKER after a month or so of back and forth. That’s exactly how I envisioned my beloved warrior to look. I sent it to my publisher and the rest is history. I’ve received loads of compliments on this cover and I feel the need to toot Dustin’s horn now. His talents brought my Decker to life and he deserves a lot of credit for that. Therefore, I sent Dustin a few questions I thought the rest of you might want to know about him, his work and his business. Here you go:


Tell us a little about your artistic process when Mel sent you the description for the character Decker. What did you think of him?

Immediately in my mind for some reason, I imagined this hybrid from Old London and American Pioneer days so I was really excited and intrigued by him. He struck me as what people used to describe guys when they would say ”he’s a man’s man.” I always admired those time periods so that was where my research initially started as well.


Is this the first project that ended up on the front cover of a book? How do you feel about it?

It is actually my first book cover and it came about rather quickly and unexpectedly. It was quite a surprise but in the best way and I dove right in. I’ve never really had my artwork be so prominent like this so I’m incredibly excited to see it once it comes out.


Is your work 100% digital? If so, what programs do you use?

The majority of my most recent work has been completely digital because it comes without the mess and the set up for each piece is quicker. There are downsides to digital work, but those are mostly personal reasons. I actually like being hands on and getting my hands dirty, plus just love the smell of paints and certain papers and even the smell of burnt wood when I work on wood burning projects.

In terms of what methods I use, most of the time it all depends on the project and what I feel I can use from my personal experience that would best suit what the client is requesting. For some pieces, I started with a traditional hand illustrated sketch and painted it digitally or I mixed photo manipulation, collage techniques, and used anything from textures, fabrics, or old paper and magazine clippings.
My primary programs of choice are Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter. I also use Adobe Illustrator, and Corel Draw.


Tell us about your business and how to contact you.

I am primarily an illustrator and painter so I do a lot of portraits and realism, and I also like to do my fair share of caricature work. I’ve done magazine and editorial work, t-shirt designs, murals, and some custom vinyl toy and other sculpture work.

I am a bit of a jack of all trades creatively though because I can do quite a bit and I am always trying to learn new projects and methods, so I will take on anything. The best way to contact me is through my website at It will have my email address and various websites and social media sites that I am active on.


I highly recommend if you’re searching for the perfect cover artist for your book, that you consider going to Dustin. I love my publisher to death and when I explained why I was searching, they were like, “Hey cool. Let us know what you come up with.” It was awesome. Although I know much of what happens with my work depends on Solstice’s final approval, they are, as a smaller publishing house, still willing to work with me. I enjoy the flexibility and I’m once again reassured of my choice in publishers. Now, I also have an amazing artist for the next few books! But I learned something as well –I can still be an active participant in the creative steps to publication. So can you. 

If you are interested in picking up a copy of DECKER, it is available in all of the usual outlets. You can also visit for more information on my books, blog, news, and forums where readers gather to chat!


Mel Massey

Mel Massey

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About Nat Russo

Nat Russo is the Amazon #1 Bestselling Fantasy author of Necromancer Awakening and Necromancer Falling. Nat was born in New York, raised in Arizona, and has lived just about everywhere in-between. He’s gone from pizza maker, to radio DJ, to Catholic seminarian (in a Benedictine monastery, of all places), to police officer, to software engineer. His career has taken him from central Texas to central Germany, where he worked as a defense contractor for Northrop Grumman. He's spent most of his adult life developing software, playing video games, running a Cub Scout den, gaining/losing weight, and listening to every kind of music under the sun. Along the way he managed to earn a degree in Philosophy and a black belt in Tang Soo Do. He currently makes his home in central Texas with his wife, teenager, mischievous beagle, and goofy boxador.

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