Good call Terez. It of course makes the interview quote you provided at least partially relevant to the discussion.
Interview: Nov 14th, 1998
TPOD Signing Report - Matthew Hunter (Paraphrased)
Someone asked how he chose the cover artist, and we got a nice long spiel with some previously unknown information. Jordan and his wife went through bookstores picking out books based on their (if they liked it) cover art and finding out who did the cover. It came down to two artists, Darrell K. Sweet and Michael Whelan. The deciding factor was that Whelan wants the manuscript to read for a year before he will deliver a cover, and they just couldn't wait that long.
They are apparently considering a later reissue of the entire series with different covers, perhaps by Whelan, once it is complete.