Francesca Sanna was born in 1991 in Sardinia. She studied illustration and design in Cagliari and earned her master’s degree in illustration from the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts. In the summer of 2014 she completed further studies in illustration and visual storytelling at the School of Visual Arts in New York. In her final thesis, she explored the question of what makes a migrant like her different from people who have been forced to leave their homes. She conducted many interviews with displaced people between 2013 and 2015 in which she was met with more silence than stories, leading her to fall back on visual methods. If language abilities were absent, the communication employed sketches. »With pictures you can show things, words are just substitutes.« »The Journey« (2016), a book for children five years and up, contains 25 images from Sanna’s project that she first drew by hand and then digitalized. In this project, she experimented with different perspectives and shades of color to create the desired atmosphere. In keeping with the topic, the color spectrum is dominated by dark and subdued shades. The story, told in clear and concise language, is about the flight of a mother and her two children to Europe. It primarily uses allusions to laconically show the horrors of war, flight, and displacement without glossing over anything; nevertheless, the narrative style remains optimistic and the story ends on a hopeful note: »I hope one day, like these birds, we will find a new home. A home where we can be safe and begin our story again.« »Me and My Fear« (2018), the continuation of the »The Journey« project, is about a girl at a new school in a strange country who is confronted with her fear of not being able to handle the unfamiliar language and of not making any friends.
Francesca Sanna designed the cover and further illustrations for »The Little Mermaid« in a 2017 collection of fairy tales by Hans Christian Andersen, created the illustrations for Daniel Fehr’s »Ein Loch gegen den Regen« (2016; tr: A Hole against the Rain), and is self-publishing the children’s story »her hair«, which is about unconventional beauty, in 2018. She has been awarded numerous prizes, among them the gold medal from the Society of Illustrators in New York, the Premi Llibreter, the Ezra Jack Keats Award, and the Klaus Flugge Prize. She was also shortlisted for the German Children’s Book Prize and the Swiss Children’s Media Prize. She works as a freelance illustrator in Zurich.