Harry Potter and the Staircase

Last year, I wrote about an interesting unauthorized Chinese translation. The cover art on this one really resonated with me for some reason—unusual because I generally am not a fan of the very abstract representations. Nonetheless, I did some reverse-image-sleuthing and tracked down the original artist, Josie Portillo and the original piece.

It is a painting that originally appeared the summer of 2011 at Gallery Nucleus, an art gallery in Alhambra, California which hosted a tribute exhibition of Harry Potter fan art.

After 11 years most of the links that I found to sites that might have had an attribution were dead unfortunately, including Gallery Nucleus’s own site which now forwards directly to their Instagram! However, fortunately, one of the links included Portillo’s name and I was able to confirm directly with her.

She’s not the first artist to have their work used in an unauthorized Harry Potter publication without permission or attribution, and she’s the third that I’ve pointed it out to. Understandably, they are disappointed, even angry, that this happens! I always try to emphasize that it means that there is a group of children out there growing up with their art as the canonical image of Harry Potter in their minds, and they love it as much as the kids who love Mary GrandPré’s or Thomas Taylor’s Harry Potters. It doesn’t make it right, but perhaps it is a consolation.

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