By Megan Coote, Tessa Thejas Thomas, Juliette Tulloch and Abbie Wright
This week, we are shining the spotlight on Anna Morrison, a UK-based freelance art director, designer and illustrator. Since studying illustration at Camberwell College of Art in London, Anna has worked at Random House and HarperCollins and now works as a freelance designer. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of our favourite cover designs from Anna’s portfolio. You can find even more of Anna’s design work here on her website.
Beautiful Pictures of The Lost Homeland by Mia Gallagher
Beautiful Pictures of The Lost Homeland by Mia Gallagher is a novel which is, at its core, about identity. A key component of the design is fragmentation – the cover features both a photograph of a young boy and a photograph of a woman, which are interspersed and layered to create a collage effect. The top of the design is more muted, and as you move towards the bottom of the cover, the colour scheme becomes more saturated, perhaps signifying the main character Georgia coming into her own after undergoing gender-affirming surgery, in contrast to the discomfort in her body that she experienced during childhood. The colour scheme, Anna explained in an interview with The Irish Times, is inspired by Super 8 film, which is referenced in the book and certainly gives the design a more vintage feel, as though you are looking back through old, faded photos. Alongside Georgia’s experience and gender identity, this layering effect can be tied to other elements of the story, such as alternation between time periods (1970’s and present) and between different places (Ireland and London). In this way, the design provides the perfect visual depiction of the novel's themes on multiple levels.
How Do You Live? by Genzaburo Yoshino
Genzaburo Yoshino’s novel How Do You Live? has all the visual elements that encompass classic Japanese literature. The novel follows fifteen-year-old Koperu (Copper) as he ponders what it means to live following his father’s death. A prominent theme amongst classic Japanese literature is the exploration of philosophy and life through simplicity. The cover, designed by Anna Morrison, illustrates Copper looking out onto a vast expanse of white. In this area of white, tiny dots are depicted to symbolise stars. Morrison’s design depicts Copper sitting on one of these stars. This reflects scenes in the novel when Copper looks up at the sky during thought. The cover font is bold and centred, with each word separated to guide the reader’s eye towards where Copper sits. This design is subtle but puts emphasis on the weight of each word. The limited colour palette of white, navy and orange creates a sense of cohesion and calm. Overall, the cover design of How Do You Live? portrays the tone of the novel, leaving the reader to ponder the themes presented throughout the story.
Train Lord by Oliver Mol
Train Lord is Oliver Mol’s novel depicting what happens when a sense of self is destroyed, and how one is able to get this back. The story follows Oliver as he begins to suffer with migraines and then decides to take a job as a train guard, watching the lives of others from afar. The tale is heartwarming and extremely thought-provoking.
Anna Morrison’s cover design for this book is simple in nature, with the central image being that of a train window. The windows’ contents are blurred to give the illusion of a fast-moving train, perhaps connoting the fast-moving and ever-changing nature of Mol’s life. Additionally, the image of the Sydney Opera House within the window highlights the setting of the story well. In terms of the colour scheme, the bright yellow and contrasting bright blue of the background and the image creates a striking visual for the reader. Morrison’s decision to stick to simplicity with this cover is not unusual; this decision provides a perfect cover to a story that can speak for itself.
I Who Have Never Known Men by Jacquline Harpman
Morrison’s creative flair is once more demonstrated in the design of Harpman’s dark dystopian novel for Vintage in 2019. Focused on the lives of thirty-nine women, who are imprisoned in a cage underground, the novel explores the fortieth woman as the key to their survival. The design is stripped-back yet powerful: a quote from The New York Times that doesn’t give much away about the plot, with the haunting face of a woman underneath. The placement of the orange sphere, a symbol of the electric light that is always with the women underground, is carefully positioned over one half of the woman’s face, illustrating that although the women have been forced away from society, one woman shines through the bleak darkness as their saviour. The eyes of the woman look away from the reader, demonstrating the cunningness of their behaviour, while the use of shapes and mixed textures shows off Morrison’s unique, abstract style for design. This fits perfectly with Harpman’s background of psychoanalysis and her authorial interest in memory and post-apocalyptic worlds.