The US and UK editions of the Harry Potter books feature some of the first and most iconic illustrations of the Wizarding World, but the wealth of ‘Potter’ artwork is truly global. We’ve compiled ten of our favourite book covers — from the gorgeous, to the unique, to the downright bizarre!
1. ‘Deathly Hallows’ (Mary GrandPré, USA)
Illustrator Mary GrandPré designed the cover and chapter artwork for all seven of the original US editions of the Harry Potter books. In addition, she sketched a wonderful collection of additional iconic scenes from the books.
GrandPré’s gorgeous Deathly Hallows artwork depicts Harry and Voldemort in their final confrontation and brings her artistic journey to a fitting visual close with the same curtain motif from the Sorcerer’s Stone cover.
2. ‘Goblet of Fire’ (Jonny Duddle, UK)
British illustrator Jonny Duddle was picked to design the new UK children’s edition covers in 2014. J.K. Rowling was a fan of Duddle’s work, and her recommendation saw him ultimately tasked with the monumental assignment.
Duddle’s Goblet of Fire jacket depicts the first Triwizard task, an homage to the original UK children’s edition jacket designed by Giles Greenfield. The Hungarian Horntail was particularly hard to draw and illustrating the winged beast gave Duddle, “as much difficulty as it did Harry in the book”.
Duddle used reference images of hundreds of “iridescent beetles” to help design the dragon’s scaly exterior.
3. ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ (Alvaro Tapia, Sweden)
The Swedish editions of the Harry Potter books have some of the most gorgeous cover artwork of any international translation. All seven books are illustrated by artist Alvaro Tapia who has had artwork commissioned by popular publications including Billboard and Rolling Stone.
Tapia’s Philosopher’s Stone (Harry Potter och De Vises Sten) cover depicts a number of characters from the book (check out that Sorting Hat) set against a magnificent (and rather unique) scarlet imagining of the Hogwarts Express.
4. ‘Prisoner of Azkaban’ (Alvaro Tapia, Sweden)
Yes, we love the Swedish covers so much that they’re getting a second entry.
Alvaro Tapia’s Prisoner of Azkaban cover (Harry Potter och Fången från Azkaban) features the familiar cover image choice of Harry riding Buckbeak the Hippogriff. The iconic scene is set against the Whomping Willow and an interesting hunched depiction of the Dementors of Azkaban.
5. ‘Order of the Phoenix’ (Various, China)
The Chinese Harry Potter book covers are some of the more uniquely drawn of the international editions. The 2008 Chinese collector’s edition covers feature watercolour style imagery over a torn piece of parchment.
Various designers entered a competition to provide cover artwork for these editions, and the winning Order of the Phoenix (哈利·波特与凤凰社) entry depicts a familiar looking Hagrid’s Hut, along with Harry in the Hall of Prophecy and a Thestral.
6. ‘Half-Blood Prince’ (Kazu Kibuishi, USA)
Kibuishi’s Half-Blood Prince cover is our pick of the seven. Harry and Dumbledore, wands alight, are set against a lovely blue-green backdrop of ocean and rock. (This author has a large pride-of-place print of this cover in his apartment.)
7. ‘Chamber of Secrets’ (Sabine Wilharm, Germany)
Artist Sabine Wilharm designed the heavily stylised cover artwork for the German translations of the Harry Potter books.
Wilharm’s Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter und die Kammer des Schreckens) cover features a unique depiction of the chamber itself, including large angular serpentine statues and the towering figure of Salazar Slytherin.
Like most Chamber of Secrets covers, Fawkes the Phoenix makes a swooping cameo.
8. ‘Order of the Phoenix (Mika Launis, Finland)
The Finnish Harry Potter translations are illustrated by artist Mika Launis and have a pretty noticeable theme: the characters all have, er, giant noses.
Launis’ Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter ja Feeniksin kilta) cover gets a mention in this list for one fantastic reason: Professor Umbridge is about as disgustingly toad-like as one can imagine.
9. ‘Half-Blood Prince’ (Per Jørgensen, Denmark)
Artist Per Jørgensen designed the cover artwork for the Danish translations of the Harry Potter books.
Jørgensen’s incredibly lifelike Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter og Halvblodsprinsen) cover depicts a group of very creepy Inferi emerging from the cave’s lake and attacking Harry as he attempts to fill the enchanted goblet.
10. ‘Deathly Hallows’ (Vladislav Erko, Ukraine)
The Ukarian translations of the Harry Potter books feature boldly coloured artwork by Vladislav Erko, and his final cover earns the last place in our list.
Erko’s gloriously gold-in-colour Deathly Hallows (Гаррі Поттер і смертельні реліквії) cover features a very mature depiction of Harry (Dan Radcliffe inspired, perhaps?), Ron and Hermione with multiplying treasure and, like our first entry, is set against a warn-torn Hogwarts castle.
Interested in seeing more artwork? Check out our book covers section to see more covers from around the globe.