20 Years of MinaLima: It Started with a Letter

Today marks 20 years of the wonderfully magical MinaLima, the duo and design company responsible for bringing the wizarding world to life through graphic design.

In this series of articles celebrating this milestone, MuggleNet grabbed a butterbeer with Eduardo Lima and Miraphora Mina to revisit the last two decades. In Part 1, we explore the duo’s work in the Wizarding World franchise.

 

It started with a letter.

Fittingly, the origins of MinaLima can be found in the first Potter movie and with a letter. Miraphora was working in the art department of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone when she was tasked with creating what is perhaps the most iconic graphic prop in the Wizarding World: Harry’s Hogwarts letter. And just as Mira’s Potter journey began with a letter, so did Eduardo’s.

I was working with a film director [who] by chance met Mira while they were both in Italy at the same time. And she said to me, ‘Oh Eduardo, you’re going back to London. You should contact Mira. She’s working on this film about a wizard orphan boy. No idea what that is, but it sounds quite interesting. I think you should contact her when you arrive in London.’ So I arrived in April 2001, and I waited a couple of months until I was settled, and I contacted Mira. I even found the letter that I sent her.

In her reply, Mira revealed that she had just finished work on Sorcerer’s Stone but that she would start work on the second film soon and although she couldn’t promise anything, Eduardo should come and see her. Included in her reply was a list of around 35 people whom she suggested Eduardo should contact in the meantime. He didn’t reach out to a single person, feeling that he should just wait until he could meet Mira.

 

 

After meeting for the first time in July 2001, Eduardo started working on Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in the autumn of that year when he joined Mira for a week’s work experience. And the rest, as they say, is history.

But I waited until July, and in July, I went to Leavesden to see Mira for the first time. And since that first day, we’ve never stopped talking, plotting, laughing. But I went back only around September or October to do a week’s working experience [on] the second Harry Potter film. Then one-week work experience becomes two, becomes three, four, five.

Neither of them quite knew what they were getting into when they began their Potter journey. It may seem strange to think about 20 years later, but when Eduardo and Mira first began working on the graphic art for Harry Potter, there were no visual references. The stories only existed on the page and in fans’ imaginations, as Mira explained.

Because of course until 2000, it was words on pages and very vivid in people’s imaginations, but no one had actually realized anything physically. And so it was exciting, a huge responsibility, but exciting equal measure. That’s a great thing about being new to things because you never realize what a great responsibility it is.

Equally, in the early 2000s, no one knew if all the books would be made into films. Eduardo revealed that it was only after the success of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban that they were sure that all the books in the series would be interpreted for the big screen. As such, from their favorite graphic props (Mira’s is the Marauder’s Map, and Eduardo’s is the Daily Prophet) to fan favorites such as Chocolate Frog packaging and the Black family tree, the recognizable MinaLima style is something that remained constant throughout all eight Harry Potter films.

 

Eduardo Lima reading Daily Prophet

 

While working on Potter, Eduardo and Mira “were only concentrating on the story about Harry’s journey.” They were not yet aware that they were creating the visual language of an expanding Wizarding World franchise. But that was soon to change.

 

An Expanding Magical Universe

In 2009, the duo formed their design company, MinaLima, to ensure that they could continue working together despite Potter ending. However, even as production on the final movie wrapped up, no one could have foreseen the opportunities that would present themselves to continue working in the expanding franchise.

A year after finishing work on the series, they were approached by the team behind the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Parks & Resorts to design the graphic elements of the theme parks. In taking on this project, the pair could expand their previous designs and create details for fans to really immerse themselves in the Wizarding World, explains Mira.

If you are going there and you want to spend four hours walking up and down and past the dragon and studying the attention to detail, you can, because you’re in charge. It’s not up to an edit of a film to choose what you see.

It was a real gift for the whole design team to expand on what had been done in the films and to create a world for fans to enjoy. MinaLima worked on the graphic elements of Diagon Alley from the United Kingdom and so didn’t see the finished work until they visited Universal Studios Orlando. Seeing their designs brought to life in this way was a jaw-dropping experience, explains Mira.

Someone took a photo of our faces as we walked through because we hadn’t seen it all painted and finished and beautiful. Also, there were people! We were just literally gobsmacked because it is a chance for humans to be fully immersed and you don’t even see any palm trees or anything. So it’s a real step into that wizarding world we’d only been told about on a screen.

 

Eduardo Lima and Miraphora Mina are pictured smiling in Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando Resort

 

But MinaLima’s involvement in the Wizarding World didn’t stop there. The duo returned to the big screen with the franchise for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in 2016 and has continued to develop the graphic universe in the second and third installments. The Fantastic Beast series has brought the team an opportunity to jump back into the Wizarding World, this time with an added element of history and international communities to incorporate into their designs. From 1920s New York in the first movie to both London and Paris in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and on to Brazil and possibly Berlin for Fantastic Beasts 3, MinaLima has been able to incorporate a new range of design influences into the Wizarding World.

 

 

During our interview, Eduardo and Mira remained tight-lipped about the graphic props they have created for Fantastic Beasts 3. However, Eduardo assured us that they are just as excited about the movie as we are.

I’m like everyone else now. I’m a fan, and waiting. It’s so different.

Overall, from 2001 to 2021, it’s been a magical 20 years in the Wizarding World for MinaLima. Alongside designing for the expanding movie universe and creating graphic art for the theme parks, the duo has also been involved in designing companion books for the Potter movies.

 

 

The first of these companion books was 2010’s Harry Potter Film Wizardry, which told the story of the behind-the-scenes magic of the film series. MinaLima has since gone on to work with publisher HarperCollins on a number of behind-the-scenes books and of course, taken on designing the Fantastic Beasts script books. In 2012, MinaLima was granted a license to sell limited-edition Potter prints, which gave fans a chance to own their favorite graphic art pieces. It also planted the seed for what would become the studio’s magical online shop, which saw the number of prints available go from four to over 300, including new additions such as the Magical Moments collection released in 2019. For the first time, fans across the world can add some MinaLima magic to their everyday lives, with designs available on a range of products from homewares to stationery to badges and tote bags.

 

So what’s next for MinaLima and the Wizarding World?

In addition to the continued work on the Fantastic Beasts series, the illustrated Sorcerer’s Stone was released in October 2020, and the illustrated Chamber of Secrets will be published in September this year. Despite having designed art for these stories before, illustrating the books has been a completely different experience. Eduardo and Mira have had to completely reimagine Harry’s world and leave their film designs behind, as Mira explains.

It is a new interpretation and new work, and so we actually have an obligation apart from an interest. So yes, some of the things feel familiar but I think will be some key pieces coming up. Assuming we do more of them, they are going to be challenging because by now, we’ve got some things that are images in our heads.

 

 

Eduardo and Mira don’t know yet if they will be illustrating Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban or any of the other books in the series, but they certainly would like to. In particular, they are looking forward to the potential challenge of reimagining one of the most well-known props, the Marauder’s Map, Mira says.

I think we’ve all seen the world so many times, or at least the fans have, that that’s what’s happened. It’s got embedded into our association like, ‘Oh, well, the Daily Prophet is that.’ So now we’ve got to rethink things, and it keeps everything fresh, and that’s really what designers need to do.

Furthermore, a new generation of fans is being introduced to the series through MinaLima-illustrated editions. For these younger fans, the MinaLima interpretations are their window into the Wizarding World, as Eduardo explains.

The [number] of messages we are getting from all the publishers, from Scholastic to Bloomsbury to the French to the Italians, that the new generation that is being introduced to Harry Potter, and they’re going to read those books, and then it’s like, ‘Oh my God,’ and lots of the older ones are like, ‘Oh! I want to go back! I want this book!’

Of course, a growing franchise means a growing team, and Eduardo made sure to pay tribute to the amazing team of designers and illustrators who have supported them and worked with them over the years. Until Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, it was just the two of them working on graphic art for the series. Now they have four team members working with them on Fantastic Beasts, and of course, they have always had the support of a wonderful art department, production team, and very special mentors, as Eduardo explains.

I think to finish, we just repeat that this 20 years is also the 20 years we should celebrate with the guys [whom] we worked with, the film specialists doing that. Stephenie [McMillan, set decorator] and Stuart [Craig, production designer], those two were the most brilliant people. Good friends. And all of our assistants, everyone [who] worked with us both [on] the films and especially the ones [who] are here now with us doing those crazy books. And you guys! MuggleNet, since the beginning, you guys have been so great, so supportive. Without you guys as well, we wouldn’t be here.

 

Eduaro Lima and Miraphora Mina are picture with Stuary Craig (production designer) and Stephenie McMillan (set decorator).

Left – Eduardo is pictured with Stuart Craig, production designer on the “Potter” and “Fantastic Beasts” movies. Right – Eduardo and Mira are pictured with “Potter” set decorator Stephenie McMillan.

 

It’s been great to travel back in time for MinaLima’s 20 years in the Wizarding World. Join us tomorrow for Part 2, when we will talk fairy tales, code-breaking, and collective nouns as we explore some of MinaLima’s other works.

Full Transcript with Eduardo Lima and Miraphora Mina, Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Transcribed by Katie Hynes and Marissa Osman

Lucy O'Shea: And so I guess first I just want to ask, how does it feel to be celebrating 20 years of MinaLima?

Miraphora Mina: Well, I'm still waiting for what my present’s going to be on Friday.

Eduardo Lima: I said to her, the present was me. I arrived 20 years ago from Brazil.

Miraphora: You’re like vintage wine. 20 years out of the cellar.

Eduardo: I think it’s such an amazing achievement. I think what makes me more happy and excited is that for 20 years, this lady is next to me, and that is the best thing. We did amazing work, we did lots of lovely projects, but the friendship that we have is priceless. And I think, I don’t know about that…

[Miraphora says something unintelligible]

Eduardo: Because it's very hard when you move to another country, and the language, and not knowing lots of people, and Mira was so welcoming and so warm, and so nice from day one - the day I contacted her - and now she’s still nice and polite. This has been an amazing achievement to make this.

Miraphora: Yeah, and it gives you reassurance so that when you’re trusting your instinct on things. Because we both felt instinctive, it was that we wanted to make a commitment, if you like, and because we made some big commitments together. We haven’t had any kids or other commitments. That’s really quite difficult to undo.

Eduardo: And I think after the last year with the pandemic and not being near people are not being your friends and your family, and everything is different, people were more important than anything else. The relationships with humans are why we are on this planet. When we talk to people, this relationship is so great and strong because we never really had a fight before. We never really stayed more than two days without really talking to each other.

Miraphora: But the pandemic was weird because we didn’t see each other for months. We saw each other every day on Skype on Zoom but not...

Eduardo: Not there.

Miraphora: Yeah, so that was the first time in 19 years of having more than a couple of weeks of...

Eduardo: But it was strange how it happened. So I was working. I lived in [unintelligible] for a couple of years, went back to Brazil, [unintelligible] got my passport, came back, and in the middle of that, I was working with a film director [who] by chance met Mira while they were both in Italy at the same time. And she said to me, “Oh Eduardo, you’re going back to London. You should contact Mira. She's working on this film about a wizard orphan boy. No idea what that is, but it sounds quite interesting. I think you should contact her when you arrive in London.” So I arrived in April 2001, and I waited a couple of months until I was settled, and I contacted Mira. I even found the letter that I sent her. And I found her reply to me. It was like that kind of very shy, “I’m so sorry to bother you. I got your contact from [unintelligible].” And Mira, again, she was so lovely, and straightaway she replied. She said, "I just finished Harry Potter 1, I’m starting Harry Potter 2 soon. You may come here and see me but I cannot promise anything. In the meantime, here are all the 35 people that you should contact." I didn’t contact them, I ignored all of them. Most of those people I met at Harry Potter because they were our directors. But I waited until July, and in July, I went to Leavesden to see Mira for the first time. And since that first day, we’ve never stopped talking...

[Miraphora laughs]

Eduardo: ... plotting, laughing. But I went back only around September or October to do a week's working experience [on] the second Harry Potter film. Then one-week work experience becomes two, becomes three, four, five.

Miraphora: Still can’t get rid of him.

Lucy: But I think what you're describing there are those strange relationships in the world where you just feel universally tied to someone, in a good way. And you’ve spoken a bit about when your contact said she was working on this wizard orphan boy film. Did either of you really know what you were getting into when maybe, Mira, you started writing “Mr. H Potter" and Eduardo, when you joined for your work experience but then never ended?

Eduardo: I didn’t know anything about Harry Potter. So it was only when I went to Leavesden the first time I was like “What is all this about?” But I have to buy the first book and read it, and of course, then I fall in love straight away. And that was it, I was...

Miraphora: Hooked.

Eduardo: ... hooked. Because I also met Stephenie McMillian, the set decorator. Again, such a lovely, beautiful human being, and so my experience with Harry Potter was meeting Mira and Stephenie, and of course, the Harry Potter world is so amazing.

Miraphora: And don’t forget the opportunities they gave us as designers. And that was 20 years ago, so we had much less experience of being designers then. It was so great that I think fairly quickly we were hooked in that way as well. We were like, “This is compelling.” You don't have a choice, to be honest, when you’re a freelancer, of the project you’re going to work on. I think a lot of people in those films felt quite fortunate to be given that kind of work. Because of course until 2000, it was words on pages and very vivid in people’s imaginations, but no one had actually realized anything physically. And so it was exciting, a huge responsibility, but exciting equal measure. That's a great thing about being new to things because you never realize what a great responsibility it is. It’s like parenting. Or to have a puppy. You really realize that you are forming through this style of dialogue, with this work, you’re forming the personality of this thing.

Eduardo: And an interesting thing that happened after Harry Potter 3... We didn't know exactly that all the films were going to be made. That was, I think, from Harry Potter 4 onwards. I think because of the success of Harry Potter 3, we can pocket that there’s no doubt we’re going to the end. But also we didn't have a clue that we went not knowing that we were developing the language of the Harry Potter that we all know now. Because at that time, we were only concentrating on the film, and that was it. We didn’t have any theme park and merchandise. You don't have anything at all. So we were only building, and that is even more special, that we were only concentrating on the story about Harry’s journey, and that was it.

Lucy: That leads me on to an interesting question. You’re talking about your opportunities. I was going to ask about the theme park design. When you were brought on to do the graphic work for Diagon Alley, how did it feel knowing that fans were immersed in your work? Before, they have seen it on-screen, and obviously, we're a little bit keen on attention to detail when we're looking at films, Potter fans. But how did that make you feel knowing they would be living almost within your designs?

Miraphora: It is great because, of course, for one thing, when they do it on the little screen, that might be one or two seconds. You've got a moving camera, you've got edits. If they make it all onto the screen, probably 75% of anybody’s work doesn't end up in the film. That’s probably an exaggeration, maybe 60% or something.

Eduardo: And that's something that you need to make peace with straight away because, in a way, you never know what’s going to happen in editing.

Mira: So that was probably the biggest difference, knowing that if you are going there and you want to spend four hours walking up and down and past the dragon and studying the attention to detail, you can, because you’re in charge. It’s not up to an edit of a film to choose what you see. So in a way, that was quite a gift, I think. For Stuart Craig, as well, and the whole design team, to really expand on what had been done in the films and just grow it even more. Of course, we needed to grow it anyway to because it was a bigger space and there’s more narrative to tell. But we did all of that from the UK, so the whole design team pretty much sent all that. Which is great, you never really understand that first day that we walked through the wall and someone... I don't know if... We should find that photo. Someone took a photo of our faces as we walked through because we hadn’t seen it all painted and finished and beautiful. Also, there were people! We were just literally gobsmacked because it is a chance for humans to be fully immersed and you don't even see any palm trees or anything. So it’s a real step into that wizarding world we'd only been told about on a screen.

Eduardo: But a big difference as far as that for films, everything is made to not last. So you made the things to last the scene, maybe a few months in case there are any reshoots, and that’s it. And after, things are put in storage, or thrown away, or reused for something else. And having Diagon Alley where you can really walk and go inside shops for real and touch things. That’s fantastic.

Lucy: And I mean, you talked about walking up and down for hours. I am one of those people [who] will do that. Is there anything that we should be looking out for? Any sort of things that you remember including that fans should keep an eye out for?

Eduardo: I think in the film we didn't have a chance to do much of the ghost graphics that are on the facias from...

Miraphora: The ones that are sort of faded out. Brickwork.

Eduardo: Yeah, because in the film, again [it happens] so quickly that you don’t really see too much of the outside. It’s just like when Harry walks with Hagrid [unintelligible] after they go inside the shop. So we had the opportunity to create all those extra graphics.

Miraphora: Yeah, especially, I think, the Weasleys’ shop. The way you really get the sense with it, the empire, the Weasley empire, it’s a very kind of, I guess it’s quite a basic process of watching the model grow in the art department under Stuart’s command and seeing the buildings from there. You know what space they’re going to be, and we literally go in and go, "We need more signs." Stuart’s always adding more, he always makes things bigger and [wants] more of them.

Eduardo: We are like that as well. We always want bigger.

Miraphora: Reference, which is always what we do at the time. All the design teams, checking references to make sure that everything they do, from a pencil drawing to the finished piece, feels real. If you look at signage from places, there’s always so much more than in a typical city street. Especially from in the present day. I think we’re alluding to other times and places. But yeah, whenever we do first pass, I said, “Oh, actually, we need to do another, add a few more main signs.”

Eduardo: And go and show it to Stuart and Stephenie and go like, “Can we make this bigger? Three more meters here."

Lucy: I mean, that's music to my ears. Always more, particularly in the Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. That needs to be almost like an assault on the senses, doesn't it?

[Miraphora and Eduardo overlap]

Lucy: Just everywhere. And another opportunity that's come up fairly recently is your new adventure into illustrating the Potter books. Has this given you a chance to maybe rethink some concepts or just completely throw everything before out the window and then start again?

Miraphora: Well, apart from anything we have to respect the narrative. So there might be Ron being red-headed, things that are actually cited in the book in terms of interpretations of visual things. We have to rethink it because it's not a Warner Bros. film. It’s not a Warner Bros. production. It is a new interpretation and new work, and so we actually have an obligation apart from an interest. So yes, some of the things feel familiar but I think will be some key pieces coming up. Assuming we do more of them, they are going to be challenging because by now we’ve got some things that are images in our heads.

Eduardo: For example, if we are invited to do Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, [what] the Marauder’s Map will look like. Because the Marauder's Map we did for the film is so a part of the world now that it’s like...

Miraphora: I mean, if we say "Marauder's Map" to you, does a visual pop into your head?

Lucy: Yeah, it's your Marauder's Map.

[Everyone laughs]

Miraphora: It’s a bit like... Didn't Andy Warhol say if you just repeat things enough, then it becomes this strong enough message? I think we’ve all seen the world so many times, or at least the fans have, that that's what's happened. It's got embedded into our association like, “Oh, well, the Daily Prophet is that.” So now we've got to rethink things, and it keeps everything fresh, and that's really what designers need to do. And even designing the books was a complete surprise, and the one bit of the puzzle, if you like, that we had never... We’d been invited to do so many other things for the franchise, but it’s like the elephant in the room. You’ve done everything else, but then, suddenly, nearly 20 years later, it's like this golden thing on a pillow. It’s like, “You may have a go at this now.” Well, that is serious. It felt like quite a responsibility.

Eduardo: And all the scenes from Harry Potter and Diagon Alley and to the books, we had an amazing, amazing team working with us of designers and illustrators and is all we need to celebrate that as well.

Miraphora: Yeah, we’d like to make sure that that’s...

Eduardo: It’s not just me and Mira. Up to Harry Potter 6, it was just me and Mira. We didn't have assistants. It was on Harry Potter 6 that we had one assistant, and now on Fantastic Beasts 3, we had, how many assistants? Three? [unintelligible] Because of course then the deadlines become bigger as well. So there’s much more need. But yes, our team, especially the team, not especially, all the teams, the guys that have been working on the books as well, they are incredible. They’re all amazing wizards.

Lucy: It's nice that you're using that to showcase the others in your team. And you've already hinted that "if" you're invited to do the other books, so I was going to ask if you will do all seven. But I mean...

Miraphora: We genuinely don’t know. It’s a bit like the films. The first one or two we literally went from one job, then got offered another job, [unintelligible] come back and do another two. So no one on the films [unintelligible] not contracted to do the whole set, one likes to make the assumption based on the success of the first one but hopefully, the presales are going really well for the second one.

Lucy: Is there anything in particular that you’re looking forward to fans seeing in The Chamber of Secrets that’s out later this year.

Miraphora: Well I mean, we start getting some dark bits. I have to say, every time the Weasleys appear, and I did in the film as well. The thing that’s consistent with the first books, the films, and our interpretation now, is to maintain a sense of humor. And I think that’s what kind of drives us in this world of work. I guess we kind of carried it into the other work we do as well.

Eduardo: Yeah.

Miraphora: The non-wizarding world work is the opportunity to see the kind of humor, or the sort of contradictions, of things that are much more interesting to us as designers than normal. Do you remember that girl who came through with the t-shirt, “I’m scared of normal people”?

Eduardo: I loved that.

Lucy: But it's true because that's life, isn't it? You’re in a dark place in life, but then something ridiculous will happen and you just have to learn to laugh it. And is that something I guess, that kind of light, dark humor is that something you're infusing into the Fantastic Beasts series as well?

Miraphora: I suppose it's a little bit more anchored in reality, but as we’ve seen in the first two films. I think probably having adults, anyway, not having children around. Because children see the other side of stuff that adults don’t, and I do think maybe that is making the difference in Fantastic Beasts. But actually, you know what everyone's favorite bit is? Interestingly it seems it is the Niffler doing stupid stuff, and Bowtruckle, and Jacob, obviously. So actually, I think people do need to have those little spots.

Eduardo: But our interpretational graphics, we still do the same thing we did for Harry Potter. We always mixed the physical and mystic because always the magical disturbances, wizarding [unintelligible]. But around is all the funny things about crazy wizards in Ohio and Milwaukee, and so we did that thing again to mix this weird way that the wizards - especially in America - are much more hidden, and they cannot be a little more cheeky [unintelligible]. So we had to show that. That’s why when we go to the [unintelligible] we have all the wanted posters. So I have my name there.

Miraphora: We’ve never really shared those, have we?

Lucy: This is news to me, yeah.

Eduardo: We had some [unintelligible] a little bit that, with wanted posters that Newt and Tina. They’re not supposed to hear because they become wanted at that point. And so we had so much fun in creating all these weird names and the crimes that all those people committed. And they all have AKA, [unintelligible]

[Unintelligible section]

Eduardo: And packaging and the magazines and books. Again, they're all stupid. In a nice way.

Lucy: Of course, of course. I am going to be a bit cheeky and ask, is there potentially anything you could share about, design-wise, for the upcoming movie? I feel like I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t try and ask that question.

[Unintelligible section]

Lucy: That is exactly what I expected.

Eduardo: I think we are the same, kind of [unintelligible].

Miraphora: It’s annoying. It’s so early for us, because we could join in. but we’re contractually stuck. I can’t even remember [unintelligible]

Eduardo: I’m like everyone else now. I’m a fan, and waiting. It’s so different.

Miraphora: Yeah, we haven’t seen it. I can’t tell you something and then they cut it from the film.

Lucy: That would be great. I'll be sat there for the whole thing and it never happened.

Lucy: I want to talk a little bit - as we're getting towards the end of our time this evening - about your influence and Harry Potter's influence on graphic design. Both in the film industry and for movie-goer awareness. Do you think it's had an impact since you started this work back in the 2000s?

Eduardo: Definitely. From my point of view, when we arrived in 2001 [Neil Lamont, Supervising Art Director on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone] said, "Oh, come back in September. In the meantime, just maybe get familiar with the filmmaking in the UK." So in the UK, there are a couple of bibles that have all the names of everyone [who] works in the industry with their contacts and stuff. So I went to a library. At that time there was no Internet. In 2001 the Internet was around but we... I remember checking the graphic design section, and there were only five people listed in the UK at that time working graphics, and Neil was one of them. And now, if you check that same bible, there are nearly 400 people working and everyone is absolutely busy at the moment. I think we like to think that maybe Harry Potter helped a lot of the industry in not only graphics and the art department but [also] construction, painting, prop-making.

Miraphora: Visual effects.

Eduardo: Loads of visual effects houses moved to London because of Harry Potter. And during that time from 2001 to 2009, [it] was very difficult. The film industry was very slow. There was not much happening. [There] were not Netflixes and Amazons and things like that at that time. There were not many famous at the time. So Harry Potter was so important to establish the film industry in the UK, and I think it did the same for graphics as well.

Miraphora: The awareness of it as a role and what it can do to contribute to storytelling. Because unfortunately, the nature of our work is that for the most part, doing graphics for film goes unnoticed. I'm sure you'll watch films differently after you've seen Harry Potter [and] been to Leavesden Studios and to the tour, if you see any sort of modern film and go into a supermarket or you go into a lift or a hospital,or an airplane. And all those graphics are everywhere. And someone had to do all that. So actually, what's happened now is that you get people who favor doing modern graphics or contemporary graphics or ones that are very good at period, hand-making documents. And so it's great because it feels like it's a profession that's real now, rather than someone who's turning their hand to it from something else. But what's what is missing a little bit is joining the dots from the people who know that it exists and want to do it, and then how to get there. It is smoothing out a bit, but I think if once it gets into education establishments that will change things up a bit because suddenly we've got a conduit that's a little bit more straightforward. [Right now] it's a lot of favors and who you know and that kind of thing.

Eduardo: We didn't talk about that in another part of the thing but when we had our first experience with a fan convention, it was LeakyCon in 2012 in Chicago. And for the first 40 minutes, we were in shock, like, "Oh my God, where are we going? What is this? What is everyone wearing?"

Miraphora: Coupled with jet lag, we were literally freaking out.

Eduardo: But in a lovely, surprising way. And of course, after you start to talk to one person and [unintelligible] you are one of them and everything is amazing. But my point was that people will come to us from that day and say, "Because of you, I am a graphic designer now." And that is the biggest reward that any professional can have. If you are not inspiring someone else to do something you love, and because of your love for that thing...

Miraphora: It's perpetual. If a group of school kids come in and have a tour around here, if one of them decides, "Oh my God, I didn't realize that that and that and that" and "That's what I want to do," if just one person does, then I think that's enough to [unintelligible].

Eduardo: Joe, our junior designer, works with us on Fantastic Beasts 3 and brought him down to MinaLima, and I remember meeting him two, maybe three, years ago at the shop. I think he was still in college, and now he's finished, and we grabbed him. Today, he said to me, "Thank you so much for still having me here because this is my dream job, and I remember very well when I watched the films. And from the third film, I said, 'That's it. I want to be a graphic designer. That's it. Those people just inspire me so much.'" [makes emotional noises]

[Everyone giggles at Eduardo's emotional story]

Lucy: I'm feeling a little bit [makes an emotional noise]. I really don't want to ask this question, because I fear it will end our chat on a bit of a downer. But after the year and a bit, we've had where young people, particularly those who are 16, 17, 18 years old, their education has been all over the place. Everything has been very disruptive. If you do have those budding graphic designers in those groups of young people, what would you say to them when they're thinking about their futures right now?

Miraphora: I think for everyone in anything creative over the last year and a half, the thing that made us survive and achieve actually - because we did a lot - was just keeping the momentum going. And I think that's the hardest thing when you don't really know what it is you're working towards, but if they can in some way keep the momentum going, whether it's going and seeing things, keeping a sketchbook, going to book shops which are open again or Oxfam, there are lots of charity shops now that just have... I've got a local one near me that just has books, and there's always a section that has gems in it. I would imagine, if you can make a parallel with being a musician, if you don't play an instrument all time, then you do actually just sort of dry up a little bit. I think with us, with our profession, as well, you need to keep that thing ticking over and not be frightened to ask people questions within reason. Whether that's a question of can I come and get work experience, or how do I get work experience? Or, I mean, here's the living, breathing proof of work experience going well. Asking questions is a difficult thing because you feel like you're taking up people's time, and there are ways of doing it that are kind of invasive, and there are ways of doing it where you really just want to help someone. B.C - Before Covid - we did some talks in our old shop, evening chats, and stuff. This girl turned up - and this is honestly quite unusual - but she came from America. I can't remember what... That weekend she decided, "You know what? I'm just gonna do it. I really want to meet these people." It was someone who discovered that there was this thing called graphic design for film, and was just like, "Right, I'm going to grab this opportunity." So she just went for it. Came over for the weekend. Then she wrote us an email saying, "Oh, it was really nice and everything, and I'm just killing a couple of hours before I go back to the airport." She said was really inspirational, the talk. I said, "Come to the studio now if you want to." She didn't, she literally had her suitcase and was on her way back to the airport. But that little contact, that little seizing of an opportunity, even if we didn't end up working together because she carried on living in the United States, I think maybe it would unlock something in her that realized that there are normal people, human beings also trying their best to do the work they do. That was a long answer to say: keep the momentum up by staying in touch with your craft or finding the craft that you love. And seize opportunities when you see them, even if they seem little, try to keep your radar out. Because that's what happened with us, there are lots of little opportunities where you think, "Oh, that just all happened by accident." But it didn't, probably. There are probably little moments in your career where you go, "Maybe I should actually follow that."

Eduardo: An example again: Mira had an amazing assistant on Harry Potter 1 and 2, Ruth. After Harry Potter 2, they had done their work experience and Ruth wanted to move on to another area within our department. So there was this place and [unintelligible]. So again, all those opportunities [unintelligible]. But the other thing that we always like to say to young designers or people that wants to become a graphic designer, is to have this. [holds up a pen and notebook] Of course, the computer is amazing, it's great and you can do wonders, but I think you still need to have that.

[Eduardo and Miraphora speak over one another]

Miraphora: It might be that you draw lettering or people on the train or I don't know.

Eduardo: I think sometimes the young people have this anxiety that they need to know Photoshop and Illustrator, and InDesign. No. Breathe. See. Chuck the books. Go to a library, go to a charity shop, go to a museum. London... We live in such an amazing city. There are so many things free that you can go see. Don't put yourself under so much pressure that you think you need to be sitting in front of your Apple computer all day. Because the Apple computer will be there. Photoshop will be there. So just go and explore the world with your notebook and a pencil.

Lucy: So is doodling something that you'd encourage? I'm a big doodler. I can't do the drawing, but I'll sit there and [makes doodling noises]

Eduardo: This was a meeting I had this morning. [shows doodle]

Mira: One ear on the phone.

[Everyone laughs]

Eduardo: There are just things I do all the time. It doesn't mean anything, but it's just...

Lucy: While you're on the phone. I get it. You sit there and you do little doodles. The whole visual language of Harry Potter is built on people who do doodles on the phone, so I think that's a great message. Do you have any kind of messages for fans, specifically about the Wizarding World and the 20 years that they've followed you for that?

Eduardo: I couldn't have chosen a better franchise. At that time, as I said, we didn't know that this would be a whole thing. But you guys, the fandom, and the love. That's why we were so shocked back in 2012 in Chicago at the hotel.

Miraphora: Filmmakers don't realize. They don't often have an opportunity to engage with their audience like in other crafts. If you're a painter, you might have an exhibition. You might meet the people who are going to buy the painting. But it very rarely happens, that connection. Of course, we get lots of lovely compliments from everyone, but none of the work on the films would be anything without a great audience, or without an audience. Because it's definitely, for us, a dialogue, and that trip that we did to Chicago in 2012 was just instrumental in changing our perception of how best to communicate our craft. We ended up turning this work into our own business built on passion and love for the work, but I mean, God, I hope all the best businesses are built like that because they're true. But it was the best way to understand because, to be honest, on films, you always go to the premiere and they always say that everything is about the performance. And it was Leavesden Studios, the tour, the made us all realize that, actually, people are just as interested in craft and our work is part of that, it's just a very niche part of it. And we completely underestimated that people might be interested to talk about it. [laughs] We didn't understand why the decision had been made; it was definitely a two-way conversation, and we hope that it will continue to be as we also see the new generation of Harry Potter lovers coming in because we see now that we've got our own space to entertain people at the shop. We meet families of all ages and it's just great to see the next ones coming in.

Eduardo: The [number] of messages we are getting from all the publishers, from Scholastic to Bloomsbury to the French to the Italians, that the new generation that is being introduced to Harry Potter, and they're going to read those books, and then it's like, "Oh my God," and lots of the older ones are like, "Oh! I want to go back! I want this book!"

Lucy: I think that's wonderful to think that for some people... I read the books when I was seven, and I had the original Bloomsbury version. But to think that some seven-year-old somewhere, their first introduction will be through your interpretations. Does that not...

Miraphora: It's humbling.

Lucy: Yeah, I was going to say blow your mind.

[Everyone laughs]

Miraphora: It is, and actually, that is also a big difference that we learned when we did the classics which we're going to talk about tomorrow. You asked before about how doing the work for the theme park, how different it was from the film but with film, you're so used to the transitory nature and the fact that it is just this mark with light shining through a piece of film that is just put away. It's the polar opposite book, even though our work output is the same, in the end, you've got this very tangible material thing that is in all these homes. And that's really like, "Wow, there's all these places!" We should have a map with all the... That would be nice. A map with all the homes that have got them.

Eduardo: Every time someone opens a book, it shows up.

[Everyone laughs]

Lucy: I think that's a really nice point to end on. That you are people's bedtime stories across the world through these new interpretations.

Miraphora: You're going to make me cry.

Lucy: Sorry! That will plant the next seed of designers if they're sat there poring over these additions before they go to sleep. I don't want to make you cry, that's the last thing I want to do.

[Everyone laughs]

Eduardo: I think to finish, we just repeat that this 20 years is also the 20 years we should celebrate with the guys [whom] we worked with, the film specialists doing that. Stephenie [McMillan, set decorator] and Stuart [Craig, production designer], those two were the most brilliant people.

Miraphora: Mentors, leaders.

Eduardo: Good friends. And all of our assistants, everyone [who] worked with us both [on] the films and especially the ones [who] are here now with us doing those crazy books. And you guys! MuggleNet, since the beginning you guys have been so great, so supportive. Without you guys as well, we wouldn't be here.

Miraphora: Yeah.

Lucy: It's been it's been our pleasure and we will continue to be with you for the next 20 years.

 

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Lucy O'Shea

I was given a copy of Philosopher's Stone in 2001, and instantly, I was hooked. Since then, my passion for Potter has been equaled only by my passion for fair access to education (and watching motorsport). A spell I wish could exist in the Muggle world is the summoning charm because this Hufflepuff is not a "particularly good finder"!

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