Harry Potter Wiki
Harry Potter Wiki

"When I illustrate a cover or a book, I draw upon what the author tells me; that's how I see my responsibility as an illustrator. J.K. Rowling is very descriptive in her writing — she gives an illustrator a lot to work with. Each story is packed full of rich visual descriptions of the atmosphere, the mood, the setting, and all the different creatures and people. She makes it easy for me. The images just develop as I sketch and retrace until it feels right and matches her vision."
— Mary GrandPré on her artistic inspiration for her illustrations for the Harry Potter books[1]

Mary GrandPré (born 13 February 1954) is an American illustrator, best known for her illustrations in the US editions of the Harry Potter books, published by Scholastic. She resides in Sarasota, Florida with her family.


Early years[]

Mary GrandPré was born in South Dakota, but spent most of her life in Minnesota.[2] She began drawing when she was only five years old, beginning with a reproduction of Mickey Mouse.[2] By age ten, she was imitating Salvador Dalí experimenting with stretched objects painted with oils, before graduating to copying black and white photos from the encyclopedia. GrandPré graduated from Pomona College with a degree in fine arts, and in her mid-twenties chose to go back to school, earning a degree from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.[3]

After her graduation, GrandPré spent several years as a waitress while working to be noticed by ad agencies and attempting to find her own style. Her drawing evolved into what she calls "soft geometry," featuring pastels used in a "colourful, light-hearted, and whimsical" manner. Her work is created completely by hand, without using a computer.[3]


Miscellaneous work[]

As GrandPré's work has become better known, she has found herself offered a wide variety of jobs. Mary GrandPré has created images for advertising and magazines, including The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, and The Wall Street Journal.[3] Among her other famous works, she was commissioned to illustrate the official poster for the 2005 Minnesota State Fair executive who enjoyed her work called to invite her to participate as an illustrator for their 1998 animated film Antz.[4] GrandPré was involved with creating some of the landscapes used in the movie. She has also participated in character development for another animated film. Mary GrandPré also taught at The Ringling School of Art and Design.[3]


GrandPré signing Harry Potter books at a bookshop

Harry Potter series[]

GrandPré has illustrated all of the American editions of the Harry Potter novels. She was one of the few people who were able to read the Harry Potter books before they were released to the general public. When she received each new book, she read the story through once, highlighting descriptions that she felt would do well as an illustration. She then created various sketches as ideas for the cover and chapter art, before sending her favourites to the editors to decide which should appear in the final publication. GrandPré is very careful to make sure that her illustrations give hints as to what will happen in each chapter or within the book, without making it very obvious where the plot is headed. GrandPré does not collaborate with J. K. Rowling at all.

GrandPré's influence for Harry Potter's Glasses throughout her illustrations for the character come from her husband's glasses. ( who is currently a teacher at The Ringling College of Art and Design.)[5]

On 11 February 2009, an exhibition with her main work happened in the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, in the state of Iowa, which shows sketches of her work for the U.S. editions of all books of the Harry Potter series.[6]

Other children's books[]

In addition to the Harry Potter series, she has illustrated picture books including Pockets, Chin Yu Min and the Ginger Cat, Vegetables Go to Bed, The Thread of Life, Swing Around the Sun, The Sea Chest, and Sweep Dreams. She also illustrated Plum, and Henry and Pawl and the Round Yellow Ball, which was co-written by her husband, Tom Casmer.[7] Mary GrandPré once illustrated a story in a fourth grade textbook for New York.


GrandPré's work with the Harry Potter books has been featured on the cover of Time Magazine. Her work, chosen from thousands of illustrators, has also been featured on the cover of Showcase 16. She has received awards from The Society of Illustrators, Communication Arts, Graphis, Print, and Art Direction, and has been profiled in Step-by-Step Graphics and Communications Arts Magazine.[8]

Latest work[]

GrandPré has recently begun creating art for herself instead of for an assignment. She has donated several pieces to The Wellness Community of Southwest Florida, a non-profit organisation providing support for people with cancer.[9] She has also contributed to her local Habitat for Humanity charity by donating pieces and books, as well.

In Popular Culture[]

In The Devil Wears Prada, GrandPré is briefly referenced, though not by name, as the connection through which Christian Thompson receives the unpublished manuscript of the seventh Harry Potter book. Thompson says, "A friend of a friend does the cover art."


The Harry Potter Wiki has 470 images related to Mary GrandPré.

As illustrator[]

The Harry Potter Series[]

Poetry collections[]

  • Swing Around the Sun, poems by Barbara Juster Esbensen (the Fall season; Lerner Publishing Group, 2002)
  • Plum, poetry by Tony Mitton (Scholastic, 2003)


  • The Vegetables Go to Bed, by Christopher L. King (Crown, 1994)
  • Chin Yu Min and the Ginger Cat, by Jennifer Armstrong (Dragonfly Books, 1996)
  • Pockets, by Jennifer Armstrong (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 1998)
  • The Sea Chest, by Toni Buzzeo (Dial, 2002)
  • The Thread of Life: Twelve Old Italian Tales , by Domenico Vittorini (Running Press Kids; New Ed edition, 2003)
  • Sweep Dreams, by Nancy Willard (Little, Brown Young Readers, 2005)
  • Lucia and the Light, by Phyllis Root (Candlewick Press, 2006)
  • Aunt Claire's Yellow Beehive Hair, by Deborah Blumenthal (Pelican, 2007)

As author and illustrator[]

  • Henry and Pawl and the Round Yellow Ball, co-written by her husband, Tom Casmer (Dial, 2005)

External links[]

Notes and references[]

  1. "The Painter of Potter" interview with Amazon.com
  2. 2.0 2.1 Mary GrandPré. http://www.angelfire.com/mi3/cookarama/GrandPré.html.+Retrieved on 12 February 2007.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Jarvis, John (1999). Mary GrandPré. Communication Arts. Retrieved on 12 February 2007.
  4. Recent Print Projects: Minnesota State Fair. Husom & Rose Fine Art Giclee Print Studio. Retrieved on 12 February 2007.
  5. Illustrator puts a bit of herself on Potter cover: GrandPré feels pressure to create something special with each book. MSNBC (8 March 2005). Retrieved on 12 February 2007.
  6. New photos of sketches of the Harry Potter series made by Mary GrandPré
  7. Mary GrandPré. Arthur A. Levine Books. Retrieved on 12 February 2007.
  8. Mary GrandPré Bio. Mary GrandPré Official Website. Retrieved on 12 February 2007.
  9. The Inner Embrace of Mary GrandPré. The Wellness Community (19 December 2006). Retrieved on 12 February 2007.