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Designer discusses back story to the beautiful cover of Heather Harpham’s ‘Happiness’

25th September, 2017

Happiness – the inspiration behind the stunning cover

‘Heather Harpham has managed to weave a deftly-told memoir on both a cruel twist of genetic fate, and the complexities of romantic love, with wit and grace.’ Huffington Post

A page-turning, shirt-grabbing true story that follows a one-of-a-kind family required to make nearly unimaginable choices in the wake of tragedy.

We love the cover, so spoke to designer and illustrator Kate Forrester about her inspiration behind the imagery.


Although I didn’t get to read the book in advance, from the synopsis and my research online into the couple’s story, I felt that the cover design needed a gentle touch. The tale deals with life and death, illness, heart break and hope so I didn’t want it to look too twee or pretty. I wanted the paper cut to be fragile and intricate like the lives it describes.

I wanted to depict various elements of the story but in a symbolic way, rather than being too realistic. The scene at the bottom shows the couple, their roots – (his: NYC, literary, hers: west coast, dog/family) – the distance between them growing upwards like a plant and culminating in their eventual unity with the children at the top. The river or path between the couple at the bottom is a sign of their journey – the ‘crooked little road’ and/or their eventual destination on the Hudson River. I also wanted the top section to give a nod to the stage; curtain hanging above the scene to show both her career and the feeling that an external force is controlling their history.

Overall, it was one of those jobs that was really a pleasure to take on. As you can see from my first rough below, we didn’t have too much back and forth and the art director and I had a pretty shared vision from the start. Once I’d had this rough approved, it was really just a case of refining the drawing and adding the title and extra narrative details where possible. I hope it is one of those covers that people notice more little details and how they relate to the story every time they pick up the book to read.

Happiness is out now! Go to Amazon for purchase information:

For more info on Kate’s designs, please visit

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