20 Years of MinaLima: Magic in the Muggle World

This weekend, we’re celebrating 20 years of the wonderfully magical MinaLima, the duo responsible for bringing the wizarding world to life through graphic design.

So far, in this series of articles celebrating this milestone, we have explored MinaLima’s involvement in the Wizarding World as well as outside of the franchise. In this final article, we’re looking at MinaLima in the Muggle world, from the Houses of MinaLima to growing a fanbase over the years and influencing graphic design.

 

The Many Houses of MinaLima

It was only supposed to be a temporary pop-up shop when it opened in 2016. Today, House of MinaLima is ranked 11th out of 1,150 on TripAdvisor’s list of shopping experiences in London and has expanded to locations in Japan and the United States. But where did it all start?

In 2015, fans were excited to learn that MinaLima would be holding an exhibition of its Potter work at the Coningsby Gallery, London. Running for just under three weeks, the Graphic Art of the Harry Potter Films exhibition was also the first time that limited-edition Potter prints were available to purchase along with prop replica notebooks and postcards.

 


 

Following on from the exhibition’s success, House of MinaLima took up residence at 26 Greek Street and opened its doors to fans on June 3. Eduardo reminded us that the pop-up was originally only meant to be for six months, but once fans experienced the eccentric charm of the gallery and shop, they were adamant that it should remain open.

We said we were going to close, and [there was a] petition. Over 1,000 lovely fans signed the book and even signed it, ‘Please keep the House open.’ And they put [their] age, where they come from, and their [Hogwarts] House.

 

House of MinaLima on Greek Street, London

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Miraphora Mina & Eduardo Lima (@minalimadesign)

 

The fans made their voices heard, and House of MinaLima remained open. It continued to exhibit MinaLima’s Potter work and expanded to showcase Fantastic Beasts props and designs alongside pop-up exhibits for the MinaLima Classics Collection. In 2020, House of MinaLima moved from Greek Street to new premises on Wardour Street, as Eduardo reminisced.

It was quite hard to say goodbye to that place because it was magical. It was when everything started, for us, to have a presence, a physical presence.

Although the Greek Street location had become a must-visit for fans, the new premises on Wardour Street represent a new stage in the life of House of MinaLima in London.

 

MinaLima photo

House of MinaLima moved to Wardour Street, London, in 2020.

 

Mira revealed that although the coronavirus pandemic drove the decision to move into the new premises, it was a positive change for the MinaLima team. The bigger space means that people can visit safely during the pandemic, and for the first time, the team’s studio is in the building with the gallery.

We were thrust into the space, but it’s enabled us to have people in here safely because the space is better laid out. But also, it’s like a grown-up version. Greek Street was the playful child, and now we’ve got the grown-up House of MinaLima, and having the studios above all in one building is just a dream.

However, it’s not just in London that House of MinaLima has been expanding. In 2018, MinaLima opened two pop-up stores in Tokyo and Nagoya, Japan. These pop-ups were so successful that, in 2019, a year-long pop-up was opened in Osaka. It has since become a permanent House of MinaLima and the first to be opened outside of the United Kingdom.

 

Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima posing at The House of MinaLima in Osaka.

Eduardo and Mira visit House of MinaLima in Osaka, Japan.

 

Most recently, MinaLima went stateside with the opening of the Harry Potter New York flagship store, which contains a House of MinaLima in the basement. Eduardo and Mira have yet to visit the New York location, but they can’t wait to jump on a plane and say hello to the American wizards. Although it’s only been open for a month, Eduardo told us that House of MinaLima New York is proving popular with fans.

What we have been hearing from people there is that the MinaLima bit is the cherry on the cake. […] People know that MinaLima is in the basement, so they do everything [else] in the shop and they [save] House of MinaLima for last because it’s where they’re going to go and breathe.

With three locations across the world on three different continents, where would Eduardo and Mira like to take House of MinaLima next? Eduardo is keen to get back to his roots (“I need to go to Brazil!”), but considering how global their fanbase is, if and when a new House of MinaLima opens, there are bound to be fans nearby.

 

Finding Humanity in Fandom 

As a result of designing the graphic props for one of the biggest franchises in the world, MinaLima has gained a dedicated following of fans over the last 20 years. Eduardo and Mira first realized the popularity of their work when they attended the fan convention LeakyCon in 2012. For Eduardo, it was his first experience of fandom.

People were coming to us and said, ‘Oh my God, you guys. You don’t realize how much the Marauder’s Map or how much the ‘Daily Prophet,’ ‘The Quibbler,’ or whatever is important.’ And we were like, ‘How?’ And of course, we understand completely now. But at the time we were like, “It’s just a prop.”

 

MinaLima meeting a fan at the Celebration of Harry Potter in 2017.

MinaLima meets a fan at the Celebration of Harry Potter in 2017.

 

Since then, the popularity of MinaLima has meant that Eduardo and Mira have gone from managing their own stand at the first two Celebration of Harry Potter events to having to have dedicated time slots to meet fans from 2016 onwards. The duo also makes appearances at conventions and events around the world. Eduardo revealed that meeting fans is not only a chance to share their passion for graphic design but also an opportunity to create a human connection.

We adore and love talking to people and [having] those conversations because, again, it goes back to the human relationships, and it makes sense, and you feel blessed and that you made someone smile with one little prop that you did. That is priceless, actually.

 

MinaLima speaking onstage in front of fans.

MinaLima talks to fans at MCM London Comic Con in 2019.

 

Unfortunately, meeting the audiences who enjoy your work isn’t the norm for filmmakers. Still, Mira believes that attractions such as Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter have shown that people are interested in all elements of movie production and not just the actors on-screen.

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.

 

An image of MinaLima meeting a group of Brazilian fans outside the House of MinaLima.

MinaLima meets fans outside of House of Mina on Greek Street.

 

Whether they are meeting fans of their work, drawing readers into the heart of a classic tale, or transporting moviegoers to a vast magical universe, it’s all about the human connection for Eduardo and Mira.

 

The Influence of MinaLima on Graphic Design

Over the last two decades, the awareness of graphic design as a profession and as a vital part of the film industry has grown. For example, when Eduardo first checked the contact book for people working in the UK film industry in the early 2000s, there were only five people listed in the graphic design section. Checking the same list today, he says there are nearly 400 people listed.

And during that time from 2001 to 2009, [it] was very difficult. The film industry was very slow. There was not much happening. […] 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.

 

Eduardo Lima and Miraphora Mina are pictured in front of a poster of Harry's Hogwarts letter.

Eduardo and Mira at the premiere of the first “Harry Potter” movie

 

For Mira, the profile of graphic design, both in movies and in everyday life, has risen over the last two decades. As such, she feels like graphic design has developed into a recognized profession.

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 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.

While Eduardo and Mira both attribute the increased interest in graphic design to the impact of Harry Potter on the film industry more broadly, it’s important to acknowledge the impact of their work. This is particularly true of their desire to introduce young people to graphic design, which, Eduardo revealed, is something they recognized not long after opening House of MinaLima.

That was one of the things that we identified early. Loads of young people were going there. And the House was kind of messy but also was like an exhibition of our work. So for those people, going to the House of MinaLima was their first experience going to a gallery or exhibition.

 

Eduardo Lima and Miraphora Mina being talking about their work in graphic design to fans and students at the V&A Museum.

Eduardo and Mira talk about their work in graphic design at the V&A Museum in London in 2017.

 

For Mira, engaging young people in their work, whether that’s through movies, exhibitions, or workshops, is all about encouraging a new generation of graphic designers.

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.’

 

 

The pair often have people tell them that their work is the reason why they became graphic designers, which Eduardo feels “is the biggest reward that any professional can have.” But it appears that the proof of MinaLima’s influence is also in its very own design studio.

Joe, our junior designer, works with us on ‘Fantastic Beasts’ 3 […] 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.”’

Now that MinaLima has turned 20 years old, Eduardo and Mira shared with MuggleNet something they would say to themselves at the same age, and indeed any 20-year-olds reading this article. Mira encouraged people to make doing what they love a priority, whether that is graphic design, music, or another passion, while Eduardo urged everyone to never doubt themselves.

I would say [to] the 20-year-old, ‘Make everything that you love doing your Plan A.’ Just because it doesn’t fit into some molds of your careers advice at school and stuff… Just make it Plan A, and then the things you love will probably become successful. And then the successful things become things you love.

If you work hard, if you have a dream, just put everything you have on it, and go for it.

We think that’s great advice for everyone regardless of age! Happy 20th anniversary, MinaLima. Here’s to another 20 years of magic.

 

 

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.

Full Transcript with Eduardo Lima and Miraphora Mina, Thursday, July 1, 2021

Transcribed by Adam Leuenberger and Marissa Osman

Lucy O'Shea: I can see some things on the wall behind you that allude to some of the things we're going to talk about today. One thing I did want to touch on, particularly in this second part, is some of the works that our readers might not know that you're involved in. So films like The Golden Compass, Sweeney Todd, and Legend of Tarzan. But in particular, I'm interested in The Imitation Game, because that's real people and a very recognizable time period. The rest and Potter are very much fantasy, almost, aren't they? So what drew you to that project?

Miraphora Mina: It's always story that's [unintelligible], and whilst I'd love to say we have the power to choose what we want to do, sometimes we don't. We just need to work. But actually, in that instance, it was the story. It was definitely attractive to be able to tell it [and] to be part of the telling of a very important story that wasn't very known. So I think that did speak to our souls and our hearts before thinking about how interesting it might be to do as a graphic project. I think for Eduardo, particularly, the gay connection and putting things right. So there was definitely [an] appeal to do a smaller indie - what seemed like an indie - film at the time. Whilst you said at the beginning it's so different from doing fiction rather than a factual film. To us, to be honest, it's exactly the same process and engagement with story. Because after all, when we're doing fantasy, for us, the whole point is presenting a reality to the audience. So actually, our role in storytelling is exactly the same whether we're trying to re-create an encrypted document that we didn't really know exactly what it looked like but we wanted to tell that story to make it believable to the audience or whether we're giving you a wizard newspaper because we need you to believe that that is real in this world. I hadn't really thought about it like that, but it is the case. Our job is to really believe in both as much as each other, and certainly for The Imitation Game. There was quite a lot of material at Bletchley Park, but some of the really nuanced detailed stuff didn't exist.

Eduardo Lima: And then it was quite good with the research we did, and how we managed to do the proper thing with what Bletchley Park told us. We joined the dots. As you know, we are very detailed and we made sure to find a paper that was similar to what they used at the time. We knew at that time that [the] Second World War [was happening]. Everything was so bad. You don't have enough paper, so you have to use every single corner of the pixel. We did that with all the documents and stuff. Remember we had to put like, thousands of [unintelligible] and that one was something in the notes and. [laughs]

Miraphora: But we don't want to face things with anything that looks chaotic in the story, whether it's fact or fiction. We always need to start with a real order and a kind of logic. So we did have to come up with a... "Okay, so this piece of paper would have started on this desk and this person only knew this map. Then it would go to that desk, and this extra bit of information would be added. And then somebody would put a crayon around that bit. We had to create an order in our own heads in order to..."

Eduardo: To try to re-create that, it's based on the open secrets of the film. I think you follow not someone, [but] a document. It's some coding and you follow that document. So that was the journey that we had to try to re-create.

Miraphora: I think where we did have to go a little bit more free was in Turing's annotations that were covering his walls. We were talking about Snape the other day. If you've got to manifest someone's thought process on a piece of paper, or in a book, or if you've got a flash of screen time to help describe his character and personality through his objects, or her objects. Those two things spring to mind because we obviously knew what was going on in the story but what happens on the walls of the house that that person's been living in for a long time can help quickly tell the audience the type of person that we're... We did have access to quite a lot of his actual sketches and thinking, which of course we didn't understand because, to us, it was just a lot of very interesting markings. That's the thing with film research is that you can only scratch the surface and try and get the essence of a situation. Because you just don't have enough time usually, but we were able to be inspired by those markings that he made, and then the brief was just, "Fill his walls with notations." Very, very analog. And so it almost becomes a thing of beauty. But you need to find the right balance, actually, and not get too carried away with the thing of beauty, and try to tell the story.

Lucy: So you didn't get too into re-creating Alan Turing's voice. It was your interpretation of what he was saying?

Miraphora: He published quite a few of his notes and drawings illustrating the thought process.

Eduardo: He had a love for leaves, remember?

Miraphora: Yeah, that's true. Actually, we did collect a lot of... We mixed it with actual nature and plants. And also that whole thing of just the wall [being] a vehicle for his thinking. So the house... he just didn't care.

Eduardo: It's so upsetting that his life was cut so short because can you imagine how much he could have helped invent it, and transform the work that he did. It's so frustrating. It's so infuriating, actually, because of him being gay and he had to go through that horrible... Yeah, it's horrible.

Lucy: Yeah, it's heartbreaking. You know, this year, Alan Turing's on the 50-pound note and you think, "It's been a long time. Why wasn't he on the 50-pound note sooner?" And the ending of the story always gets me when they're burning everything on the bonfire, and hopefully, that wasn't too painful for you. I know you said you said previously you had to let it go.

Miraphora: Because they decided on the schedule... I don't know if you know when you're filming, it's not chronological to the story. So that, on the schedule, was put in the first week of shooting. We had to do the burnt stuff before we saw unburnt stuff, so it's two of everything.

Eduardo: You could not just come with blank paper because we didn't know how the scene was going to be shot. You might see some notations, so we had to create it the same way we created the papers for later, before. And of course, The Imitation Game was not a huge production like Harry Potter [where] we had the facility and the luxury of having more people helping. And even money; we had a very high budget and [a lot of] time as well. So it was different. A challenge.

Lucy: Now I'll watch that scene differently, again. There'll be an added layer of heartbreak knowing that's what was going on behind the scenes. Great, thank you. So just to move on to some of your other work that's not on the screen. You've obviously done your Collective Nouns Collection and the Classics Collection. Collective Nouns was your first post-Potter collection, wasn't it? And Mira, there's a quote that's on the MinaLima Twitter at the moment where you describe it as the strange quirks of the English language. How did that collection come about?

Miraphora: Well, actually, like a lot of things, it was kind of a bit of a joke, or a laugh, where if you do it a little bit too much, it suddenly grows roots and becomes real. We were chatting with the old school friend, actually, about how she and her partner and [ourselves] wanted to do something that was our own. This own creative statement. And she was saying how brilliant those collective nouns were and what would be the best way to give it life. So as soon as we started talking about it, I was like, "Well, it's really obvious." What we would be doing is working with words and stories, but this is just like the short film of the [unintelligible]. If we were to have all these little bite-sized versions, how would we tell them? So we very quickly became the client and the creator which gave us massive freedom, because nobody was binding us to a budget or a deadline. Obviously, it was a bit of a risk.

Eduardo: And that was straight after the last Potter film. We finished around March and we found the first MinaLima office in Goodge Place in August. And while we were looking for an office, we were creating the product. And I think that was the best thing for our mental health. Not 10 years of work and it's a major franchise, no. It just needed to a bit crazy and colorful and not have to worry too much.

Miraphora: I mean, it wasn't a very good economic decision, because obviously, no one was commissioning us to do it. But like so many decisions in our 20 years of business together, it just felt like it was the right thing to do. It was quite a simple brief. We said, "Why don't we do an alphabet to start with?" So the Collective Nouns can cover A to Zed of the of these animals. Quite quickly we were up and running with these friends to get a small print studio going, a very simple website, and a little bit of marketing. We were quite lucky, we had some good press at the beginning and we did a little exhibition just around the corner.

Eduardo: Chronicle Books - from the U.S. - saw us and they said, "Oh, we want to do books." We did three books. Two books and a set of flashcards. That was quite successful.

Miraphora: In a way, it was sort of [our] first dabblings in publishing, but also understanding the mechanics of how can you print to order? How can you print stuff that you really love? A good quality, a very high quality, but that that was within our means? There are some great digital printers. We could get the colors that we wanted, and so we didn't really have any... No one taught us how to set that up, but we were like, "That seems like a good business model to print to order." We've got 52 - originally 52 to 100 - designs. We ended up having two alphabets. If nobody buys the spider one, that's fine. We've done the design, but we won't print it until someone orders it. It started off with the friends, and eventually [moved to] my back garden in the shed. And it was because of that that we then felt enabled too...

Eduardo: It felt shameless to get on a flight, go to Burbank, and say, "Warner Bros., we want to do this but with Harry Potter. We thought that they would say, "No, are you joking? You guys go back to the film industry, go back to the studio." They said straight away, "Absolutely, yes. We love your proposal." And after that, we were like, "Okay." Of course, the Warner Bros. contract is huge and legal and all that stuff. One thing that is very constant in our lives - our careers - is that we don't know how to do that

Miraphora: It can't be that difficult. [laughs] I mean, it's not like we're not trying to find a cure for the common cold. [We just wanted to] buy a printer and have a go. Sometimes it's the naivete that that thrusts you into getting started. Once you know a lot, that's what holds you back.

Eduardo: But it always goes back to having two [of us]. You share the worries, you share everything. And also having two [sets of] hands. I'm not sure if I would be courageous enough to do everything on my own if I could have, without Mira.

Miraphora: And my garden shed.

[Everyone laughs]

Lucy: That's all anyone needs.

Miraphora: You were like, "Okay, we've got this thing that's the size of an upright piano, a printer, and we needed some space. Where are we going to put it?" Because the studio that we had just hired didn't have space. And you were like, "I'm really sorry, it's gonna have to be your garden shed." I was like, "Well, my son's using it as a music room, but yeah let's give that a go." Sometimes you need those little stepping stones to stand on while all the chaos is going around, and then [you can] jump to a bigger one.

Eduardo: So what happens is it becomes a conversation with lots of different new people that were coming to us because of Harry Potter. Because of course we love Harry Potter, and it's a huge presence in our life - and will be forever - and we want to cherish that relationship forever; however, we are not only Harry Potter. It was fresh to have these other people coming to us.

Lucy: Speaking of collective nouns, [I have] just a quick question: Do you have a collective noun for a group of MinaLima fans?

Eduardo and Miraphora: Oh!

Miraphora: That's a good one for tomorrow, isn't it?

Eduardo: We might have to think about it. Now that you said that we will just be thinking of it.

Lucy: Sorry, I didn't mean to derail your entire day. [laughs]

Miraphora: We love doing this. It's going to be something like a quirk, or an eccentricity.

Lucy: Switching to the Classics Collection, that has been going since 2015 with Peter Pan, and [The Wonderful] Wizard of Oz is coming out later this year. What's driving that for you? Is it the storytelling and getting to reimagine some of these classic tales?

Eduardo: I think it started because, again, I think we have a fantastic relationship with Warner Bros., and we are part of that family. And the same with Harper Collins, the publishers. Harper Collins was just like, "We just needed to find things to work with you guys all the time. We don't want you to go anywhere. We want to keep you around, so let's brainstorm what we can do together." And those stories are ones we absolutely love. And why not?

Miraphora: It was a little bit like, "Okay, we feel quite confident and comfortable in designing props for a film story. What would it be like if we were asked to do props within a book? If a story had to have the letters and the maps and the indicators that drive the story, what would they be, and how would you get them just to stay within this format rather than on-screen? It was like setting ourselves a new challenge. And then very quickly, that first book with Peter Pan... We always try to plant a key into things, and for us, it was what would a book be like if it was in Wendy's bedroom? So it's not a book about Peter Pan, but it's a book from Peter Pan. So you'll see in your copy there that the treatment, from the cover design to the endpapers to even the pages themselves, we've actually put a fake aging on things. So everything feels like it's in-world, and that's really the kind of mandate that we set for Peter Pan, and then it rolled on to all of them and seemed to work.

Eduardo: Again, it's all about storytelling. If the storytelling is compelling and fun, that is what drives us to do those books. And talking to Harper Collins, we said, as a joke, "Oh, okay. Let's start with this collection of maybe 12 books."

Miraphora: I must say, I thought you were exaggerating when you said that, but we are on eight suddenly. How did that happen?

Eduardo: We already started on book nine, but we can't say just yet what the title is. But we are already starting with book nine. And doing those books now, I think your next would be, "What's next? What're the next 20 years?" I think with that collection, after doing nine books now, I think we feel that we are ready to tell our own stories. So that is where MinaLima will be focusing our time and energy in the next year or two. It's where we're gonna start creating our own worlds, and our own characters, and our own crazy stories. Not that we feel those stories [unintelligible]. [After] working the last seven years on those books, it's now time for us to tell our own story. We are ready.

Miraphora: It's partly because if you look back over the 20 years, another theme that seems to come up is that we when we feel comfortable in a medium or an area like the film design, the prints, there comes a very natural time where you think, "I need to just go a little bit deeper into the water now where my feet don't quite touch the bottom and see what happens." And I think that's really important always for creative people to keep that in the back of their minds. You know when it happens; you can't really force it to happen. But right now we're working on how also we can take those eight stories that we've done into a different medium.

Eduardo: That's something else as well. Soon we'll be working on ten.

[Everyone laughs]

Lucy: Interesting. You're saying these little things and my little feelers are going [makes a noise of recognition] to get that information.

[Everyone laughs]

Eduardo: Also because of the success of the classics, it was why the Harry Potter books happened as well. They saw that Scholastic, Bloomsbury, everyone said, "Oh! We have something special here. Should we maybe apply the same design to Harry Potter?" So the classics inspired the Harry Potter books to happen.

Lucy: And we're really glad that it did. You spoke a little bit about your first studio, first offices, and you've recently... Well, the House of MinaLima has recently moved home. How is your new place? I've not yet been to visit. But how is it? Are you enjoying the new space?

Miraphora: I think it's kind of transformed. It's like a natural... It's like we've grown up, the building's grown up. And so everyone has with it.

Eduardo: To be honest, it was refreshing to leave the old place because it was our first experience with a place. So it's like your first boyfriend or girlfriend, we always remember them with a hint of...

Miraphora: Rose-tinted.

Eduardo: So it was quite hard to say goodbye to that place because it was magical. It was when everything started, for us, to have a presence, a physical presence. And so moving here was...

Miraphora: Also, there was an avalanche of being thrust in. There's no denying that the pandemic had an effect on the decisions to move and so for various reasons, we were going to, but sometimes you look back and think, it's not always a bad thing, change because of a disaster. There are silver linings, too, and I think perhaps we would have done it eventually. We were thrust into the space, but it's enabled us to have people in here safely because the space is better laid out. But also, it's like a grown-up version. Greek Street was the playful child, and now we've got the grown-up House of MinaLima, and having the studios above all in one building is just a dream, it is.

Eduardo: We used to say before, "The old MinaLima house," but we could never say that because we were on the top floor where there were other offices and meeting rooms, two rooms, and now, here is a proper house not a dainty side of the building. [unintelligible] The gallery assistant and the designers so they all can interact, they all know what's going on. So that is even more...

Miraphora: Synergy. Yeah, that is the word. It just is a dream come true. And we have a roof terrace. How did that happen?

Lucy: That's good.

Miraphora: When we moved here it was just a roof, but we've turned it into a garden. But yeah, the building, it's got loads of history too, which we'll go into another time. But it's got loads of connection, connecting practices. Very good ghosts here.

Lucy: Real ghosts?

Miraphora: Apparently, yeah.

Eduardo: [unintelligible]

Lucy: Ah, so stuff falls off the wall then?

Miraphora: No one's managed to knock it off the wall. But definitely, pictures moved. I would do that if I were a ghost. Definitely. Wouldn't you? You just want to go and make some marks.

Lucy: Just enough to make people think, not enough to make...

Miraphora: Don't freak anyone out or break things.

Eduardo: We always need to remember that the idea we had for House of MinaLima was an offer for three months. That was the idea; we didn't expect... How many years now? Five years?

Miraphora: Yes. June 2016.

Eduardo: Five years later, we still now have a shop here. Very long [unintelligible} in Japan. And now New York as well. And so this is all because of the people that come and remember when we were there. We said we were going to close, and [there was a] petition. Over 1,000 lovely fans signed the book and even signed it, "Please keep the House open." And they put [their] age, where they come from, and their [Hogwarts] House.

Miraphora: We didn't invite them by the way, that was just initiated in the visitor's book.

Lucy: Well, that's because I think people feel such a connection, particularly when they can go into physical space. And if we were talking yesterday about young people and being able to get that exposure to art and design. These premises are really important.

Eduardo: That was one of the things that we identified early. Loads of young people were going there. And the House was kind of messy but also was like an exhibition of our work. So for those people, going to the House of MinaLima was their first experience going to a gallery or exhibition. And that, again, together with the messages we get - that they become graphic designers because of it - it makes us cry.

Miraphora: A little side note to that, sorry, is that I think from a commercial retail perspective, post-pandemic, there is going to be demand for something a bit more than a shop, as we knew in the past. So we do feel blessed that we made those decisions early on to offer more than then shelves with products on them.

Eduardo: It's very rewarding for the High Streets because [unintelligible] all the shops as well. That will be weird.

Miraphora: What the pandemic proved, was that online works well. And people are comfy with that. And so if they are then to get them back, you need to offer them something more.

Eduardo: But at the same time, I read an article saying that all these online, digital, even people buying things, it's not helping their mental health. Because what has become very clear with the pandemic is that we need more human connections. If the human connection is removed, [that] is where we all start to get crazy. Even if they say that they don't like people, it's not true. You like people, of course, not all the people, some people you like, and you need to have that.

Miraphora: Actually [unintelligible] just as I was on the way in, she was talking on the radio about kindness in the future of the High Street, and shopping is about kindness. And obviously, that means giving back to the environment as well as people but...

Eduardo: But kindness should be the first stop on everything. We should be kind in everything we do. There's no reason for you not to be kind and nice.

Lucy: I visited your previous shop [on] Greek Street, and when you walked in, it felt kind, and welcoming, and warm. So that's what you're talking about, you need that form of retail experience if we do want to call it that. You spoke a bit about your shops in Japan and in New York. Anywhere else you want to go in the next 20 years? If you can, you know, anywhere in the world?

Miraphora: We'd like to go well, I think you'd probably...

Eduardo: I need to go to Brazil! People say, `'London's fine because you live there. Japan? What the hell? What is the connection with? And now New York? Come on, what's wrong with [unintelligible].`" And yes, the dream is... It would be nice if we could have a little spot everywhere. That would be fantastic and because we have our [unintelligible]. When you want to have something in the U.K. and when you're going to have something in France, and Germany, and Korea, and China, so...

Miraphora: That the original plan was limited-edition prints. So that is a lesson. So, somehow, we're constantly having to figure out how best to keep delivering.

Eduardo: And the first time we went to Japan, oh my God. That was [the cause of] pints and pints of tears because of the amount of love and affection that we received from the Japanese. Well, of course, we received from everywhere, but I think in Japan was a little bit more special because of the language area and the culture as well. It's a bit different for us.

Miraphora: We felt blessed that we've been invited, but I think they felt some strange respect that someone who traveled across the world to bring them something that they all knew about already, so we were [all] mad [with] mutual admiration. Have you been?

Lucy: No, I've not been, but I know that Potter fandom is very strong in Japan.

Eduardo: But Japanese people know. As a rule, they are so polite, they're so respectful, and that was a shock to see that everyone there behaves that way. And we said, why is the world not like that? If you have rubbish in Japan, they take the rubbish at home; there are no bins in the street because you have to [deal] with your rubbish at home. So those kinds of things that we're so behind [on]. But at the same time, they have other issues as well. And worse stuff. But anyway, regardless of that. And opening in New York as well. And opening in New York as well. What we have been hearing from people there is that the MinaLima bit is the cherry on the cake. Kelly, our MinaLima ambassador in the US, is [an] amazing employee now, and she said that people know that MinaLima is in the basement, so they do everything [else] in the shop and they [save] House of MinaLima for last because it’s where they’re going to go and breathe and have a rest."]. So it's been very long. Yeah, fantastic to know that it's been successful as well. [We] haven't been there yet. So we are dying to go there. As soon as we can go, we will go there to take a look.

Lucy: That kind of ties into what we talked about a bit yesterday, about your interactions with fans. And over the years, the pair of you've been so generous and so kind towards fans. Do you have any standout moments - or memorable moments - of fan interaction, cons or events, or that kind of thing? That just sticks out in your mind, and you think, "Wow, 20 years ago, when I was sat there, you know, doing my job? I had no idea that this was coming."

Eduardo: I think when we did the first two Celebrations of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando. That was weird in some ways because we get embarrassed as well. We were explaining and people were like, "Did you design that?" So we had to explain a little bit. But from the third year until the last, something completely changed and we were not even allowed to be in our stand because people were queuing and waiting to see us.

Miraphora: Did you go to it?

Lucy: No, I've never been to Celebration.

Miraphora: What was lovely over that time is that we've got some stalwart MinaLima fans that went to every one of them, [and] made sure they bought every print that we did for that.

Miraphora: Some people write us, and there's some that we just communicate regularly with, or they come in and see us regularly. And so there's this real loyalty both ways. And that happened by meeting people in person; you can't do that online, I don't think.

Eduardo: I remember as well, of course, an official request to make calls. People were coming to us and said, "Oh my God, you guys. You don't realize how much the Marauder's Map or how much the Daily Prophet, The Quibbler, or whatever is important." And we were like, "How?" And of course, we understand completely now. But at the time we were like, "It's just a prop. It's just a piece of paper we age with..."

Miraphora: And not to mention all of the interpretations of our work on people's bodies, like dressing up, and the tattoos are kind of alarming sometimes. I mean, as a parent, I was like, "No, that was intended to be across the whole of your torso." But you know, that's amazing.

Eduardo: But as we said yesterday, we adore and love talking to people and [having] those conversations because, again, it goes back to the human relationships, and it makes sense, and you feel blessed and that you made someone smile with one little prop that you did. That is priceless, actually.

Lucy: Yeah, I can only imagine what that must be like to be confronted with someone who does have your designs up their arm or something. I imagine it's both special and a little bit unnerving, maybe. My final question for you both is, we've been having this conversation because it's 20 years of MinaLima. If you could send a message to 20-year-old Mira and 20-year-old Eduardo, what would you tell them about this entire thing?

Miraphora: I love the way she thinks we're forty. [laughs]

Eduardo: It's funny, just because I just arrived from my [unintelligible]. And there we were talking, and [it] led us [to] the same questions. So looking back, "What you just like to say to your young Eduardo in Brazil, [from a] little town?

Miraphora: And what would you say?

Eduardo: I would say, "Well done mate." As I said yesterday, I still sometimes don't believe that from the little town in the middle of Brazil, I'm here in the biggest franchise in the world, and part of MinaLima, and part of whatever we're going to create for the next 20 years with our own original story. I feel very proud of actually.

Miraphora: If you were looking back to your 20-year-old self that might have had some doubts, what would you say?

Eduardo: "Oh, don't have it. Just keep going." [unintelligible] I don't come from a rich, wealthy family. So I have to work hard. And so if you work hard, if you have a dream, just put everything you have on it, and go for it.

Miraphora: And don't ever make it a Plan B. I have to say that. I don't think I was lucky not to be brought up in that environment. But I would say [to] the 20-year-old, "Make everything that you love doing your Plan A." Just because it doesn't fit into some molds of your careers advice at school and stuff... Just make it Plan A, and then the things you love will probably become successful. And then the successful things become things you love.

Eduardo: What's funny [is] when I said to my [unintelligible] I said, "Oh, you did quite well." And she said, "Quite well? Quite. Well. Remove the 'quite.'" Just go in there and give a big hug to your [unintelligible] and she even said, "Well done."

Lucy: Great. Well, thank you guys so much. And I know there'll be lots of people who will need to hear those words that you've just said as well, whether they're 20 or not. Maybe they need to hear those words. Thank you both for sharing, and thank you for giving up your time for these interviews.

Miraphora: No, thank you for supporting us and sharing, being the conduit to the voice.

 

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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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