Thursday, November 12, 2020

Introducing Photographer and Book Cover Artist Tina Pappas Lee

I've received a lot of compliments on several of my book covers. I want to introduce you to one of the cover artists who have created a few of those covers. Meet photographer and cover artist Tina Pappas Lee.

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We always hear that people typically use one side or another of their brain - the creative side or the analytic side. Well, I guess I’m just plain odd because my career spans both equally and I enjoy both - although the creative is winning out the older I get!

I ran an ad agency for many, many years which played into both, but I found myself drawn to the creative side more and more. The bottom line was always important to keep the client happy, but I loved going on photo shoots and sitting in creative brain-storming sessions. I have had many high end clients such as Black and Decker and Macworld Magazine. One such client, Cigna Retirement and Investment Services came to me after years of servicing their account at the agency and asked me to come and build them an in-house agency. I agreed, and they gave me an entire floor in their corporate offices to do that. We were extremely successful - and again - using both sides of my brain - I was the creative director as well as the face of Cigna to their customers, and I had to supervise 25 people. Eventually I left corporate America and started my own boutique agency. Then 9-11 struck, my dad became ill and eventually passed, and I moved from CT to the south to be near him and family.

Because of the attack on our homeland, I made the decision to go in a different direction after the move and became a Special Investigator. For the past 18 years, I’ve conducted background investigations for the government - specifically the military. But I still needed that creative outlet. I purchased my first digital Canon camera and became addicted. I did it mostly for fun or to sell my prints on Etsy, but in 2016 I found an article about a woman who used her photography for book covers and that piqued my interest. Could my photography be on the cover of a novel - sure, why not I thought! So, I submitted my portfolio to an international agency and was accepted. They didn’t actively promote American photographers because they were based in Europe, but I did get my first cover with them which was NY Times bestselling author, John Hart. That book, Redemption Road, immediately became a bestseller, and I was thrilled. After that I was fortunate to get covers through this agency by well-known authors such as Danielle Steele, Carol Wyer, and Nicholas Sparks.

But they were few and far between - only 13 covers in over two years. And I wanted more than just handing my photos over to an agency who would then sell it to a publisher. I wanted to actually design the covers. So the research began - who was the best company out there for me to work with to achieve that goal? I decided it was Self Pub Book Covers and signed with them in August 2018 and have since sold 83 covers.  I have been so blessed to be able to design covers for some of the most wonderful authors in the world. Yes, there were people I had met through the international agency who questioned why I would want to give up the big name publishers/authors to work with mostly Indie authors. I explained it’s because I love that they, the author’s themselves, choose my covers! What better compliment could there be? I know that authors who have major publishers don’t typically have any say in what their cover looks like. I want my covers to be loved by the author. After all - it’s their story! They have poured their heart and soul into their work, just as I have in designing the cover. I now have relationships with so many of the them and they inspire me. I hope I do the same for them. 

I still use most of my own photography for my covers, but I do use some stock photography in composites or when I can’t get out to shoot. Yes, it’s more labor intensive shooting my own, and most designers just use stock photos, but there is ownership in what I do. When I see my own photography on a cover, I know what went into it and the fun I had creating the scene. And authors know they are truly getting one-of-a-kind covers and so many have told me they appreciate that. I also design custom covers for authors who have been referred by other photographers so if you have a need, feel free to contact me directly at


You can also follow me on MeWe at:

If you would like to see my gallery of over 700 covers on SPBC, please copy and paste the link below:

When not working, I spend my free time with husband, daughter, son-in-law, grandsons, my sweet 13 year old Labradoodle named Maggie or my wonder pony, Napoleon (show name: Little Dictator).

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I discovered Tina's fabulous cover art work when I was looking for covers for some of my republished books. I fell in love with her work--the beauty, simplicity, the artistry, and the way the covers represented the stories. You can browse all of her work at the above link she provided. But let me share a few of the fabulous covers she created that grace some of my books.