It’s fascinating to see how a pair of Italian illustrators (twin sisters) conceived the images for A Handmaid’s Tale, the novel that propelled Canadian author Margaret Atwood to international recognition. Anna and Elena Balbusso have won a slew of 2012 awards for a new edition of Atwood’s futuristic story, published by the Folio Society of the U.K.
The narrator of the 1985 novel is the handmaid Offred, stripped of freedom and rights in a totalitarian republic carved from the former United States. Her job is reproduction. Anna and Elena Balbusso’s illustrations slam home the regimented and hierarchical structure of Atwood’s Republic of Gilead. (Above: Ceremony; Below: Wall)
The illustrations accurately reflect the chilling nature of Atwood’s cautionary tale.
To give a visionary interpretation and to create the right atmosphere for the story, we chose a futurist tone with accentuated perspectives and strong light. We used few colours and with a prevalence of red, black and white. Futurism, Russian Constructivism and fascist-period design were our references. -Interview, Folio Society
Anna & Elena Balbusso, twins from Italy, are based in Milan. Since 1994 they have worked as a freelance team illustrating in Italy, France, U.S., United Kingdom and the Republic of Korea. Their works have been published worldwide in a variety of media, including book jackets, magazines, newspapers, in-house corporate, ads, children’s books and classic novels.
The Balbusso website, here.
More of the Balbussos’ work, here.