New Jersey artist Faye Rogers shares her process for creating our "Secret Columbus" cover

If the fella on our new October issue looks a little shadowy-as in casting a shadow on the buildings and fog behind him-that's because he truly is. He and every other item on the cover are made of paper, lovingly painted, cut, assembled and photographed by New Jersey artist Faye Rogers.

>>For more on Columbus' hidden gems, read our Secret Columbusstories.

In our monthly Small Talkcolumn, we wrote about Faye's five initial ideas for our cover. For this blog post, she was kind enough to answer some questions about her creative process, and she agreed to let us publish photographs of that process. We just couldn't get enough of it, and we hope you'll enjoy digging in, too. -Kristen Schmidt

Once you and a client have decided on a design, how do you go about creating it?

Once we've got a solid design down, it's always tempting to jump into the fun stuff-painting, cutting, and assembling. But even after a client and I have decided on a sketch, lots of planning is involved! I first do a finalized, cleaned-up sketch on the computer. Then, on top of the sketch, I draw out all the separate pieces I'll need to cut out. (The detective from the cover was made from 10 separate pieces.) Then I print everything out and start cutting! After that, it's just a matter of painting, layering and hot-gluing everything together.

What materials are in your toolbox?

My toolbox has grown monstrous (I collect scraps I never know if I'll need), but the essentials boil down to scissors, an X-Acto knife collection, cardboard scraps, paintbrushes, acrylic paint, a mini-glue gun, micron pens and a lot of tissue paper.

How does the illustration go from a physical piece of art to a digital file you could email us?

I have a small collapsible photography studio I bust out whenever an illustration is finally finished. It's always challenging to get a photograph that captures the dimension of the 3-D piece-I usually end up doing a little editing on the computer-and then it's off to the art director!

When you're done with an illustration, what do you do with the physical item you're left with?

Afterwards, the illustration usually gets stowed away in a closet or shoebox where it can keep my other work company. I'm slowlycollecting them to throw together a gallery show!