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Designing the Cover of Tauhou

Designing the Cover of Tauhou

By Kōtuku Titihuia Nuttall

In recent years, drawing has fallen to the wayside. It was my first love but I often feel like I don’t have the time or direction to draw anymore, although imagery is still hugely important to my writing. When I’m working with words, there are visual elements to my thought processes; I often use reference pictures and imagine exact scenery. I try to create lush and enticing scenes and capture them in words. As such, it was very important to me to get the cover of Tauhou right. It was very tricky to come up with ideas for the cover; initially I was attracted to old photos from museums and archives of landscapes and native birds, but nothing seemed right. I started sketching some very basic ideas: geometric things, repetitions of weaving and carving patterns. Then they started becoming clearer and clearer. The cover image was created using an iPad and ProCreate, which allowed me to layer designs over themselves. In the end, the design has an ancestor figure on each side, one for each side of my whakapapa (heritage), illuminated by the colour blue, which threads together all the otherworldly aspects of the stories in Tauhou. Underneath these simple line drawings are two oolichan fish, top and tailing one another like Canada and New Zealand do to one another. With this background, I added some of the patterns I had been practicing: trigons and circles, birds, marks left by a chisel. On the left is a Māori ancestor guardian and on the right is a Coast Salish welcome figure, which are both protective images. 


KŌTUKU TITIHUIA NUTTALL (Te Ātiawa, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, W̱SÁNEĆ) holds an MA from the International Institute of Modern Letters. She won the 2020 Adam Foundation Prize and was runner-up in the 2021 Surrey Hotel-Newsroom writer’s residency award. She lives on the Kāpiti Coast of Aotearoa New Zealand.


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