Jonny Duddle discusses the challenges and thrills of creating new cover art for the “Harry Potter” series

We recently announced that the Harry Potter books will be given a makeover by illustrator Jonny Duddle. The novels will be published in conjunction with Pottermore and include extra information that is available on the site. Jonny has previously illustrated a range of picture books, including The Pirate Next Door, and has worked for Aardman, the creators of Wallace and Gromit. In a new interview Jonny has talked about taking on the challenge, his favorite Potter characters, and he also offers advice for illustrators, among much more.

In the interview Jonny says that when he first found out that he had got the job designing the jackets,

[It was] a bit of a shock. I painted the first cover as a ‘test’ piece last year but was concerned that I couldn’t give it the time I would’ve liked due to other commitments. So when I heard that J.K. Rowling and the team at Bloomsbury wanted me to paint the rest of the series, I was gobsmacked. And then I worried that I just wasn’t qualified for the job, having only read the first book years ago. I felt like an impostor, amongst millions of Harry Potter fans. A proper Muggle. But then I realised that this gives me a fresh perspective, and I’m hugely excited to work my way through the wonderful books, reading each one as I produce artwork brimming with fantastic creatures and unforgettable characters.

After explaining the way that he receives a brief for each book, he says that he is

working on the cover for The Prisoner of Azkaban at the moment, and I’m having a lot of fun drawing a key element of that book.

He also talks about his own Potter experiences, saying,

I am now very much a Harry Potter fan. I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone a few years ago, and I bought a boxed set with the intention of reading all of the books. But I’ve had a very busy few years with my career as an illustrator and writer, and along with a young family and late nights in my studio, I just don’t read as much as I would like and nowhere near as much as I used to. And as a country bumpkin with no cinemas nearby, I’d never seen the Harry Potter films. I saw the first one at the cinema, after I read the book, but that’s it. In some ways that probably makes me unusual, and I think it’s a good place from which to approach the world of Hogwarts and Harry Potter, without any preconceptions. I’m reading each book in turn and immediately developing the cover, taking the images that are conjured up in my head by J.K. Rowling’s magical words.

He says that his favorite character is Hagrid.

I like his bumbling, well-meaning nature and how things often go wrong because of something he’s said or done or his general clumsiness, in spite of his best intentions. In that way he reminds me of myself. When I was briefed on the first cover, he was the first character I tried to draw.

In the interview, Jonny discusses his creative process, the way that he begins to develop an illustration, and his own creative routine. Jonny also talks about his favorite books and illustrators, as well as giving some top tips for aspiring illustrators:

I think anyone can become an artist or illustrator. I don’t believe in ‘talent’ in art, just the desire to practise. If you practise every day, you’ll get better every day. The younger you are when you start practising, the sooner you will begin to feel confident in your abilities. There is such a wonderful diversity in children’s book illustration today, and a few hours in a bookshop or library can reveal artists working in all manner of styles, techniques and mediums. If you find a selection of artists you like, study their work and try and create something similar you can learn a lot.

Read the full interview here.

All seven titles are due to be released on September 1, 2014.

Are you looking forward to seeing the new covers? Will you be buying them when they come out? Let us know your thoughts!

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