Kinuko Craft Book Covers
Kinuko Yamabe Craft is a Japanese-born American fantasy artist, and graduate of The Kanazawa Municipal College of Fine and Industrial Art. She is well known for her beautiful, ethereal cover art for magazines and well-known fantasy authors. Kinuko’s work is by turns ethereal, fantastical, and magical. I was first exposed to it through the beautiful book cover art she created for beloved fantasy authors Patricia Mackillip and Juliette Marillier, and then as an adult I later found and fell in love with her stunning series of fairy tales. She has collaborated with many authors, and also worked with her husband Mahlon F. Craft and her daughter Marie Charlotte Craft on the aforementioned series of gorgeous fairy tale books for children. Her original paintings, drawings, and limited-edition prints are represented by Borsini-Burr Gallery in California, and other galleries.
From Visions of Beauty
Kinuko Y. Craft is one of the most widely respected and well known fantasy artists in the United States today. She considers herself a story teller. Her past commissions have included paintings for the book covers of many well known fantasy authors, opera posters, fairy tale books and covers for many national magazines, along with calendars, posters and cards. During her career she has become known for meticulous attention to detail, a passionate love of fine art and a deep knowledge of art history. Her work has been widely exhibited and as well as private collections across the world, there are pieces in public collections including The National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian, The Cornish Colony Museum in Windsor, The Museum of American Illustration in New York City, The National Geographic Society and other corporate collections.
In addition to being acclaimed amongst fantasy and fairy tale lovers, Kinuko’s artwork is also well-known both with music lovers, where she has created some stunning posters for the Dallas Opera, and also – perhaps more unexpectedly – with readers of Playboy magazine.
After graduating her first fine art degree in Japan, Kinuko moved to the States in the mi d 1960s for graduate study at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. While working Chicago’s studio system, she accepted her first Playboy assignment: an illustration for a short story about urban bohemians. With many other illustration agencies in the early days asking her to focus on Asian illustrations, the Playboy commissions engaged her versatile skills for everything from Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market poem, to short stories by luminaries Ray Bradbury Paul Theroux and TC Boyle, to tech articles and – of course – even a sex survey.
Kinuko Craft’s work has been recognised by professional art and design publications, competitions and shows, garnering numerous awards around the globe. She has been elected to the Hall of Fame of the Society of Illustrators, she has been awarded Gold and Silver Medals from the Society of Illustrators, The Grand Master Award from the Society of Illustrators along with numerous other accolades.
Visions of Beauty - Video Review
The Visions of Beauty book is a deluxe collector’s edition of Kinuko’s artwork released at the end of 2022 – a feast for fantasy lovers filled with over 300 magical painting and drawings.
List of Cover Art
I’ve started uploading a collection of some of my favorite cover art below – if there are other collectors out there interested in a full accounting of her illustrated titles, let me know and I’ll expand it! Other authors you might recognise her covers for include Ursula LeGuin, Diana Galbadon, Tanith Lee, Orson Scott Card, Carl Sagan, Andre Norton and C.S. Lewis, among others.
Kinuko Craft is a Japanese-born American fantasy artist, and graduate of The Kanazawa Municipal College of Fine and Industrial Art. She is well known for her beautiful, ethereal cover art for magazines and well-known fantasy authors.
Visions of Beauty – Kinuko Y. Craft (biography and art book)
Borsini-Burr, 2022, 9078460008
A luxury edition featuring more than 300 drawings and paintings, printed in full color with pantone gold on 170g silk paper, bound in embossed blue linen, and with gilded page edges. The initial print run of 1500 copies comes with a signed bookmark. Highly recommended.
Myth & Magic: An Enchanted Fantasy Coloring Book – Kinuko Y. Craft (activity book)
Amber Lotus, Sep 2016, 1631362437
Includes 40 lavish illustrations of goddesses, angels, fairies, princesses, heroes, and mythological creatures to color, metallic details on cover, heavy-weight paper for easy removal and display.
Women of Myth & Magic: Fantasy Wall Art Calendars – Kinuko Y. Craft (calendar)
Amber Lotus, released annually
Since 2014, Kinuko has released beautiful calendars featuring opulent fantasy artwork inspired by ladies of legend and history. (Prior to this, there was a similar series of calendars called Women of Enchantment put out by Sellers Publishing.)
Kinuko’s fairy tale illustrations are jewel-toned magical and ethereal paintings. A small number of her fairy tale titles (Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty) were also released in leatherbound editions by Easton Press.
Fairy Tale Books
Beauty and the Beast – Mahlon F. Craft, illustrated by Kinuko Craft
HarperCollins, Aug 2016, 0060539194
The tale as old as time: A man steals a rose from the garden of a beast, and his daughter sacrifices herself to a life in the beast’s castle to protect her father. Of course, the beast and the girl fall in love and live happily ever after.
Sleeping Beauty – Mahlon F. Craft, illustrated by Kinuko Craft
SeaStar/Chronicle, 2002, 0688131638; Oct 2005
The classic story of the beautiful and beloved princess, cursed by the one fairy who was not invited to her christening, who pricks her finger on her sixteenth birthday and falls asleep for one hundred years.
King Midas and the Golden Touch – Charlotte Craft, illustrated by Kinuko Craft
HarperCollins, May 1999, 0688131662
When King Midas is granted his dearest wish, that everything he touches will turn to gold, he rejoices — until he nearly loses his beloved child to his greed.
Cupid and Psyche – Marie Charlotte Craft, illustrated by Kinuko Craft
HarperCollins, Jun 1996, 0688131638
Psyche is the most beautiful woman in the world, yet the oracle at Delphi foresees she will fall in love with a creature feared even by the gods themselves. She falls in love with a man she has never seen, but in a moment of doubt she betrays his trust. To win back his love, Psyche must show that she is as brave as she is beautiful by performing three impossible tasks.
Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Brave – Marianna Mayer, illustrated by Kinuko Craft
HarperCollins, May 1994, 0688085008
Sweet, lovely Vasilisa lives with her jealous stepmother and stepsisters on the edge of a dark forest inhabited by the evil witch Baba Yaga. One night the stepmother sends Vasilisa to visit Baba Yaga, an errand from which the gentle girl has little chance of returning alive.
Isaac Asimov - Magical Worlds of Fantasy Series
Isaac Asmiov’s Magical World of Fantasy was a series of twelve themed paperback fantasy fiction anthologies edited by Isaac Asimov, Martin H. Greenberg and Charles G. Waugh (a companion set to the ten volume Isaac Asimov’s Wonderful Worlds of Science Fiction, produced by the same editors). Cover art for the first seven books in the series was created by Kinuko, the remaining five were illustrated by J. K. Potter.
Stephen King is an American author of horror, supernatural fiction, suspense, crime, science-fiction, and fantasy novels.
Patricia Anne McKillip was an American author of fantasy and science fiction, known for her Riddle-Master of Hed series as well as many standalone fantasy novels with beautiful wraparound cover art by Kinuko.
“For most of my work, including the paintings for McKillip’s books, I first create a thin under painting in watercolor, seal the surface, then over paint it with conventional oil paints. I paint almost exclusively on heavyweight 100% rag Strathmore illustration board. I love it because it has a surface almost as smooth as glass. The originals vary in size, but for instance The Tower at Stoney Wood is about 20″ X 14″, that is only the image size, the board is about 3″ larger all around.” – KYC
The Bards of Bone Plain – Patricia McKillip, cover art by Kinuko Craft
Ace, Dec 2010, 0441019579
Scholar Phelan Cle is researching Bone Plain-which has been studied for the last 500 years, though no one has been able to locate it as a real place. Archaeologist Jonah Cle, Phelan’s father, is also hunting through time, piecing history together from forgotten trinkets. His most eager disciple is Princess Beatrice, the king’s youngest daughter. When they unearth a disk marked with ancient runes, Beatrice pursues the secrets of a lost language that she suddenly notices all around her, hidden in plain sight.
The Bell at Sealey Head – Patricia McKillip, cover art by Kinuko Craft
Ace, Sep 2008, 0441016308
The small seaside town of Sealey Head is home to a few families, an inn, and Aislinn House, an old mansion with a special power—its doors sometimes open onto the world of faerie, where princesses like young Ysabo occupy their time with a complex ritual and knights exist to marry the princesses. Each day at sunset, a bell sounds, heard by everyone, yet its whereabouts and the identity of its ringer remain unknown—until a few strangers arrive to unlock an ancient past.
Od Magic – Patricia McKillip, cover art by Kinuko Craft
Ace, Jun 2005, 0441012485
Possessing a unique talent for connecting with the natural environment, Brenden Vetch’s ability has brought him to the attention of the wizard Od, who hires him as a gardener. But Brenden’s gifts make him far more than he seems and could tip the balance of power in the Kingdom of Numis back into the hands of the wizard community.
Alphabet of Thorn – Patricia McKillip, cover art by Kinuko Craft
Ace, Feb 2004, 0441011306
Working in the royal library as a translator, Nepenthe, a young orphan, becomes obsessed with a strange book, given to her by a young mage during the coronation of the new Queen of Raine and written in an unknown language of thorns, and discovers a volume that begins to reveal her destiny, one that entwines her fate with that of the young queen.
The Tower at Stony Wood – Patricia McKillip, cover art by Kinuko Craft
Ace, May 2000, 0441007333
Cyan Dag, knight of Gloinmere, is sworn to serve King Regis Aurum of Yves. Cyan’s oath leads him headlong into dangerous magical territory, however, when Idra, Bard of Skye, reveals that the King’s new bride, Lady Gwynne, is an impostor. The true Lady Gwynne is trapped in an enchanted stone tower in distant Skye, a magical mirror her only means of viewing the outside world.
In the Forest of Serre – Patricia McKillip, cover art by Kinuko Craft
Ace, Jun 2003, 0441010113
Shattered by the loss of his wife and child, a grieving Prince Ronan of Serre accidentally tramples a white hen in the road and earns himself a witch’s curse, which draws him in pursuit of an irresistible pursuit of a mysterious firebird, a quest that takes him into another world.
The Book of Atrix Wolfe – Patricia McKillip, cover art by Kinuko Craft
Ace, Jul 1995, 0441002110
Prince Talis, heir to the Pelucir throne, has been away from his homeland studying magecraft. At the wizards’ college, he discovers a mysterious book of spells whose words carry hidden meanings. Returning to Pelucir, Talis encounters the Queen of the Woods, who is looking for her daughter, Sorrow, lost ever since the mage Atrix Wolfe misused his magic to divert a war.
Winter Rose – Patricia McKillip, cover art by Kinuko Craft
Ace, Jul 1996, 0441003346
Wild and free-spirited Rois Melior finds Corbett Lynn rebuilding his grandfather’s house in the woods. Soon her engaged sister, the practical and domestic Laurel, has fallen for Corbett. When Corbett disappears, Rois travels during sleep between the woods and another shadow world to find him.
Song for the Basilisk – Patricia McKillip, cover art by Kinuko Craft
Ace, Sep 1998, 0441004474
A young man denies his past for a life as a teacher of bards until a chain of events too compelling to ignore plunges him once more into a confrontation with the Prince of Berylon, who slaughtered an entire noble family to gain his throne.
Juliet Marillier is a New Zealand-born author of historical fantasy. (I’m a huge fan.)
Wildwood Dancing – Juliet Marillier, cover art by Kinuko Craft
Tor, 2006, 140505204X
There are many mysteries within the wildwood. Jena and her sisters share the biggest of all, a fantastic secret that enables them to escape the confines of their everyday life in rural Transylvania. They have kept it hidden for nine long years.
Cybele’s Secret – Juliet Marillier, cover art by Kinuko Craft
Knopf, Sep 2008, 0380976021
Scholarly Paula embarks on a trip to Istanbul with her merchant father, Teodor, to purchase an ancient artefact known as Cybele’s Gift. Paula’s fervent wish to rediscover the mysterious Other Kingdom, the realm she and her sisters visited as children, has been replaced by a more practical ambition: to become a trader in books and manuscripts. But clues and whispers soon convince Paula that she has been set a magical quest. In the great Ottoman city, Paula secures the patronage of the wealthy scholar, Irene of Volos, and finds clues in Irene’s extensive library. But competition for the artefact is fierce, and danger is everywhere. (Companion to Wildwood Dancing.)
Time-Life: The Enchanted World
The Enchanted World was a series of twenty-one books published in the mid 1980s by Time Life Books, with each volume focused on different aspects of mythology, fairy tales or folklore. The books were renowned for their beautiful artwork, and the extensive research of the authors, who wrote “in universe” stories that presented the magical topics as once having been real people and places.