Welcome to Romance Lives Forever! Your artwork has been an
inspiration to us at RLF for a long time, and we’re thrilled to have you here.
Let’s get started on a few questions about you as individuals, then as
partners, and spend the rest of the time talking about Angelique.

Questions For Lynn

You pioneered a
technique using oil-glazing and photography to create rich new images. How did
you adapt this technique to digital media?
I’ve been working in the image business since the 60’s. In
the early 90’s I never thought I would be so tied to this thing called a
computer. I guess I was dragged kicking and screaming to the digital illustrating
process. We still hand glaze a lot for our portrait work but for illustrations
we can simulate the look in the computer so much faster. When we want to do
display pieces we do a lot more hand work on the image. It gives a nice texture
to the piece.
What are the
drawbacks of working with a partner who is not located near you? How hard is it
to collaborate long distance?
We travel back and forth quite a bit but the computer
and the telephone make looking and discussing projects very easy. When I was
younger I wouldn’t think twice in jumping into a car and going to the Chicago
studio. Cherif would come out three to four days a week to the Rockford studio.
We hear that a
certain Cirneco dell Etna is part of your life. Will you tell us more about
this special relationship?
She was my dear little rescue dog Che Che. She just passed
recently. I had her for 11 years. She was around 4 when I got her from Helen
Rosburg who had originally rescued her. Che Che was a one woman dog from the beginning.
She could run like a deer and practically would turn herself inside out with
glee when I came home from a trip. Bless her little heart, like all of us she
got old and was having seizures and the vet said we had to put her to sleep. I
now have two hungry, ornery cats named Boo and Dusty.
Do you think keeping
secrets is good or bad?
I try to keep my wild, crazy sex life a secret. Seriously, I
always found anytime you think you can keep a secret, invariably it gets out.
What song would best
describe your life?
 If I Can Dream. Elvis Presley and My Way.
If you were a tool,
what would people use you to do?
I would be an artist brush. People would use me to paint the
world happy, caring and romantic.
If you could give the
younger version of yourself advice what would it be?
Be true to yourself. Take some chances and create something
What is the most
important thing you do for your career?
I work at it almost every day. I take images and play with
them. I try to keep my radar up for new avenues of exposure, i.e. blogs!
How are the
children’s books coming, Lynn?
Well, thank you for asking. They are ready for a publisher
to give them a home. I have 9 of them. Che Che modeled in one along with
Cherif’s son Kai. There’s another featuring a dragon with Cherif and his
daughter Kira. Little Lara, Cherif’s youngest daughter, is my model for one
called Pickles and Peas. I just love them.

Questions For Cherif

Is it true that at
one time, you were a fireman, a stuntman, and worked in a medieval-based theme
Yes. Currently I enjoy two careers: I am a full-time
firefighter for a busy suburban department near Chicago and also a freelance
illustrator/photographer. I’ve been a fireman for 9 years and an artist since,
well, forever. Prior to working as a firefighter, I worked as a stunt performer
for a medieval-themed dinner show company called Medieval Times. This lasted 12
years and my duties included sword fighting, horseback riding, and training of
both horses and stuntmen. In 1993, Lynn Sanders and I started a commercial art
and photography studio which has been in business ever since. We’re known as
Fortin and Sanders and we provide a variety of services including book cover
illustration, design, high end portraiture and event photography.
In what way did these
jobs prepare you for creating artwork using photography and illustrations?
I think having a variety of experiences broadens your
horizons, which is always helpful. I’ve met many talented professionals across
various fields, and I always try to learn something from them. A big part of
being a freelance artist is developing your entrepreneurial skills and small
business acumen. I meet people all the time that might be doing something
totally different from me but in a way that makes me think, “hey, this
could really help me be better”. I try to emulate those people. Working at
Medieval Times certainly helped refine my eye for medieval subjects, period
costumes, horses, etc.
Illustrator Tour via Innovative Online Book Tours
What do you enjoy
most about life?
Spending time with my friends and family. I am lucky to have
very kind, loving and interesting people in my life.
How do you balance
life with deadlines and work?
One thing that is increasingly difficult as I add
commitments to my life is finding time. I have two full-time careers, three
growing kids, a wife, a book in the works, several artistic projects, friends,
hobbies and a new Doberman puppy to manage. It can get pretty crazy and
sometimes overwhelming. My touchstone is making time with my family on a daily
basis. Regardless of what’s going on with work, having fun with the wife and
kids is my antidote for stress.
What is the craziest
thing you did as a kid?
This one time, at band camp… ;)
How do you respond to
negative people?
I try not to! Negativity attracts negativity, so I just
steer clear.
If you could give the
younger version of yourself advice what would it be?
There is no point in wasting time worrying. What will be,
will be. The key to life is not in finding happiness, but making it.
What is the most
important thing you do for your career?
You know, I’m still trying to figure that out! If I had to
pick one single thing, I would have to say networking. Meeting others and
interacting with them has opened many unexpected doors for me and led me in
directions I couldn’t have come up with on my own.
What is the answer to
the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything?
The answer is 42, of course (for the Douglas Adams fans out

The Public Can Find Cherif Here

Questions For Lynn and Cherif Together

What new project are
you working on now?
Lynn: We are
always working on stories and illustrations. We also do fine art portraiture
for private clients, painting everything from pets, to children, brides and
corporate execs. We are still illustrating book covers for a variety of clients
and we hope to keep doing that for many more years to come.
On a personal level, I just finished a series of paintings
for a group of silk-flyer acrobats. I’m also working on illustrating some kids
books which I’d like to see published one day, and I’m doing a lot of portraits
of Elvis, which I sometimes put up for sale on eBay.
Cherif: We’re
spending a lot of time promoting Passion’s Blood and Angelique these days,
doing signings and appearances. We’re also finishing production on some artwork
for the Gordie Brown Live! Show at the Golden Nugget Casino, which you can see
on 8 billboards throughout Las Vegas.
My personal projects lately include doing family portraits
as well as some paintings exploring fantastic and mythological themes. I’m
putting the finishing touches on a new book which features art techniques for
professional photographers; I’m hoping to have that ready by the end of the
How do you come up
with ideas?
Cherif: Ideas
have never been a problem, it’s the execution that can be tricky! For me, ideas come from everywhere: literature, art,
movies, comics, video games, magazines, conversations with friends, etc. I try
to stay inspired by keeping in touch with other artists online, visiting art
blogs and forums, and I keep an “inspiration” folder on my pc in
which I put works that for one reason or another catch my eye. It’s at well
over 2 gigs in size currently, and I add to it nearly every day. If I find I’m
blocked for new ideas I just rummage through that folder a little and in no
time my juices start flowing.
Where do you see your
partnership going in the next ten years?
Cherif: I’m
really excited by the interactive apps we’ve been working on for the iPad
available through iTunes. I hope we can grow in this area and do projects that
take advantage of technology in cool new ways. I’d also like to take on a role
mentoring other photographers and artists, perhaps through seminars or tours.
What advice do you
have for cover models today?
Don’t go into book cover modeling expecting it to be your
main thing: it’s a niche opportunity at best. Diversify your portfolio and work
where you can get it.
What advice do you
have for photographers in the book cover industry?
Same as above.

Questions about Angelique

Angelique is “at the intersection of movies and
traditional printed books” (Cherif to Kathleen Pickering at Romantic Times
Convention). It’s an eBook as well as an interactive app for iPad. It’s also a
form of multimedia which can be used as an audio book read by the author, and
allows the reader to interact with the illustrations. The information we’ve
seen at RLF shows us that readers can touch areas of the illustrations to bring
them to life.
Please tell us more
about this amazing product.
It’s an illustrated book for the new century! The story is a
gothic horror-romance set in turn of the century Paris. I dont want to reveal
too much about it to readers, other than to say I am very proud of the work
authors Helen Rosburg and Ali DeGray did: it’s at turns touching and
horrifying, inspiring and chilling, and the end is truly bittersweet and
memorable. We couldnt have asked for a better story to illustrate. The app
takes advantage of today’s technology by augmenting the reading experience with
multimedia: sound, movement, etc. All the illustrations are animated to bring
the scenes to life, and there’s (optional) voiceover narration by the author,
for those who want the audio book experience. We think it is at the ground
floor of what books will become in the digital age.
What gave you the
idea for creating Angelique?
Helen Rosburg wrote Angelique. We were inspired by her words
and she asked us to illustrate it.
How hard was it to
find someone who could make your ideas a reality?
We were lucky to be working with Medallion Press on this
project. We have a long history of working with them, doing cover art and other
illustrated books, and we know the people there and have developed great
relationships. They are pioneering a lot of digital publishing strategies and
are fully behind the idea of interactive books. There’s really no one better we
could be partnering with for a project like this.
In what way is this a
step forward from your previous, similar app, Passion’s Blood?
Every time you do a new project you refine your old
techniques and discover new ones. Passion’s Blood was sort of a proof-of-concept
project, to see if the idea of an interactive book was even possible for us. Angelique
was an opportunity to refine our work, and we really got into painting
specifically for multimedia, sometimes doing multiple versions of each
illustration to make the animations come together.
Do you plan
additional apps of this type? Will there be a sequel to either of the current
We have beautiful images for a sequel to Passion’s Blood. Patrick
Lambke (“The Black Knight” from a recent Nat Geo documentary series) and
Cherif will model for the main characters again. The female lead is modeled by
Stacy Walker. We’re waiting to see how all this comes together.
Cherif Fortin, Lynn Sanders
The illustrations
were all done digitally. How different was that from using photography as your
We used photography mainly as reference in Angelique, to
help us keep the likenesses consistent and make sure our figures and lighting
were correct. The approach is different, but we can work effectively using
either digital or traditional techniques.
What do unique
products like Angelique and Passion’s Blood cost?
There’s a great special going on right now. You can download
the apps from iTunes for only 99 cents.
Where can readers
pick up copies of these apps?
Both are available through the iPad or on iTunes.