Designing Harry’s Second Year at Hogwarts: Eduardo Lima on MinaLima’s Illustrated “Chamber of Secrets”

To celebrate the publication of MinaLima’s illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, MuggleNet sat down with Eduardo Lima to talk about designing Harry’s second year at Hogwarts and what is going on with those book spines (sort of).

For Eduardo, Chamber of Secrets began with a book map. This vital part of designing Harry’s second year at Hogwarts laid out the moments in the story with accompanying illustrations and interactive elements. The challenge for MinaLima was trying to balance a limited page count with the desire to explore special moments of the story.

In this book, there are amazing moments. The Burrow was one, the Floo Network […], the Whomping Willow with the Ford Anglia [getting] stuck. There are moments like that [where] we say, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, even if it’s too much at the beginning of the book, we will have to find a way to compensate somewhere else.’

 

An image of the cover of MinaLima's illiustrated "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets"

 

Chamber of Secrets contains eight interactive elements, including a paper-engineered mandrake, Whomping Willow, Basilisk, and Burrow. Eduardo revealed that although eight made it into the book, they originally started with 12 designs.

Usually, we propose up to 12. After [12], that is the boring thing of ‘Oh, that’s too expensive. That’s too bulky.’ But I think for this book, we chose the best ones and we didn’t miss anything.

One of Eduardo’s favorite interactive designs is the Burrow because it represents Harry “visiting a proper family that is happy, crazy, and dysfunctional at the same time.” However, when it comes to the other illustrations in the book, his favorites are those moments that are not shown in the films.

The deathday party with all the ghosts and Halloween. We don’t see that in the film, so I think to be able to spend more time with the ghosts of Hogwarts is really fun.

 

A copy of MinaLima' "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" is opened on a page showing the The Burrow.

 

While MinaLima’s style is synonymous with the Wizarding World, the designers had to quickly forget about the on-screen Potter universe.

I think now that the studio has a style. As we said before, this book is a collaboration with our beautiful illustrators [who] work downstairs, and we now have a nice language. […] The one thing we didn’t want to do was to be too close to the film, and we tried to walk away [from that], but I’m sure there might be some similarities that you see in there because it’s who we are.

The desire to not re-create what they have done before is clear in not including the Howler in the book.

The Howler is so iconic, the one we designed for the film, that we didn’t want to… And again it was like, ‘But that was nice, how the Howler was done for the film. How are we going to do something else?’ I think those moments are where you can get, not stuck, but like, ‘Oh! I need to rethink this. It’s looking too close to the film.’

Even for moments from the movies that have made it into Chamber of Secrets, MinaLima’s interpretation allows readers to spend more time exploring locations for hidden details.

The Slytherin common room in the film [is seen] very quickly, and now, at least here in this book, you can spend a little bit more time there to look.

 

A copy of MinaLima' "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" is opened on a page showing the Slytherin Common Room.

 

Hidden details and Easter eggs are a staple of MinaLima’s Wizarding World work, and we have been assured that there are plenty in Chamber of Secrets, not that Eduardo is giving away any secrets.

Yeah, there are, but I don’t want to tell you. Otherwise it would spoil the surprise. […] Especially in the frames of each chapter, there are Easter eggs everywhere.

 

A copy of MinaLima' "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" is opened on a page showing chapter artwork.

 

One secret that we won’t be finding out anytime soon is the reason behind the color of the book cover and the change in tower design on the spine from Sorcerer’s Stone. Eduardo remained tight-lipped about these differences and the possibility of future illustrated Potter books. Still, he suggested that the team has a plan, and “that is how [he’s] going to leave that.”

Signed copies of MinaLima’s illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets can be purchased from the House of MinaLima in London and the MinaLima online store. Unsigned copies can also be purchased in-store at the Harry Potter New York flagship store. Have you got your copy yet?

Full Transcript with Eduardo Lima, Monday, October 25, 2021

Eduardo Lima: Hi, Lucy!

Lucy O'Shea: Hi, Eduardo! First of all, congratulations on Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

Eduardo: Another book birth! In the publishing world, it's a book birthday.

Lucy: I'm really looking forward to delving into it and poring over the illustrations. One question I did have is, how did you approach designing Harry's second year at Hogwarts, and did it differ from Philosopher's Stone?

Eduardo: I think that the challenge on the first one was trying to completely distance ourselves from the film and from anything else that had been made for Harry Potter. [unintelligible] The funny thing about the second book is, it's started to become a little bit, not easier, but a little bit less complicated because some of the things you've already established. You've already established Harry, you've already established Hermione and some of the main characters. And some of the main locations, as well, like Hogwarts and the Great Hall. So sometimes [that] helped, but with every book, there are new places, new locations, new characters. But again, I think it's the same approach that before. We just closed our eyes, closed our minds, and just completely immersed ourselves in this version that we are creating for the Wizarding World.

Lucy: Brilliant. You mentioned those new characters and new locations. Obviously, you've got fan favorites like Arthur Weasley in the Burrow, and we've got some more mysterious places like Borgin and Burkes. Did you have a favorite location, or moment, or character that you've designed for this book?

Eduardo: I think I share the same excitement as Harry. [unintelligible] I think the first time Harry goes to the Burrow, even when you're reading the books you feel that excitement now that he is visiting a proper family that is happy, crazy, and dysfunctional at the same time. He never had that. And being able to discover all the little areas like Ron's bedroom on top. It's fantastic. I have to say, as well, another character that was really nice to do was Gilderoy Lockhart. My God. [laughs] He's just brilliant.

Lucy: Definitely pure extravagance.

Eduardo: We play with the portraits. Have you seen the book?

Lucy: No, I haven't got a copy yet. The interactive elements are a key point in any MinaLima book. How do you decide what gets that kind of magical treatment and what sticks to a page illustration or maybe something smaller?

Eduardo: That is the thing that I like to say that I take charge of at the beginning of each book: the book map. That decides which illustration is going to be done. All of the things are decided on the book map because one of the first things that the publisher asks us to do is the page count. I need to know how many pages this book will have so I can start ordering the paper. Especially now with the Pandemic, it's a nightmare. All of the publishers are fighting against each other for who buys more paper. When you do the book map it's [also] for production to know how thick the spine will be, all of those things that you need to make those decisions early on in the process. At the same time, it is where we make all the decisions of the illustrations and also of the inserts. The inserts obviously need to be spread out throughout the book. Sometimes, especially in the classics, you have a lot of amazing things happening in the beginning and nothing at the end, but you have to find something in the middle to balance the book. Otherwise, on the production side, the book becomes quite [unintelligible] if everything is on one side more than the other. However, that is the practical bit. At the same time, you need to make sure that the story is [unintelligible] properly with those inserts. You need to give the reader enough time to breathe before you go to another chapter or when something else happened. In this book, there are amazing moments. The Burrow was one, the Floo Network, when he gets confused and arrives in Knocturn Alley, the Whomping Willow with the Ford Anglia [getting] stuck.

[Both laugh]

Lucy: That's really clever.

Eduardo: There are moments like that [where] we say, "Oh, I'm sorry, even if it's too much at the beginning of the book, we will have to find a way to compensate somewhere else." Like the entrance to Dumbledore's office? That is such a magical entrance. It's so grand, and extravagant, and ceremonial that we have to show that. Another moment was finding the Polyjuice [unintelligible]

Lucy: Were any of these more challenging than the others to bring to life? Or did you have any grand ideas for something that you maybe had to tone down a bit?

Eduardo: Unfortunately that happens. Usually, we propose up to 12. After [12], that is the boring thing of "Oh, that's too expensive. That's too bulky." But I think for this book, we chose the best ones and we didn't miss anything.

Lucy: That's good to know, that we're not missing out on anything. Away from the interactive features, the illustrations are gorgeous as well. Do you have any particular moment that's your stand-out favorite from the full-page illustrations?

Eduardo: Oh, there's so many. It's the things that you don't see much in the film, like the deathday party with all the ghosts and Halloween. We don't see that in the film, so I think to be able to spend more time with the ghosts of Hogwarts is really fun and nice. Filch's office as well. And Gilderoy.

Lucy: All of this is very MinaLima, but with your classics, you take the approach of each story [having] a different style. For example, The Adventures of Pinocchio is a woodcut style. That's my favorite from what I've seen so far. That contrast of light and dark, and danger and safety is my favorite.

Eduardo: Again, you always have to think of it through Harry's eyes. That was such a special moment [unintelligible].

Lucy: Is there a reason why you took that bird's-eye view on the moment compared to doing it any other way?

Eduardo: I think we always try to make it a little bit more complicated and dramatic. [unintelligible] but having that view from the top creates much more drama and that beautiful lighting effect with the shadows.

Lucy: I really like that illustration. If you were going to describe the design approach to both Philosopher's Stone and Chamber of Secrets and that continuity, is there a particular style that you've leaned towards? Have you avoided doing the MinaLima style that's in the films, or incorporated a bit of that into it?

Eduardo: I think now that the studio has a style. As we said before, this book is a collaboration with our beautiful illustrators [who] work downstairs, and we now have a nice language. You're absolutely right. It's a little bit different but they are from the same family. The one thing we didn't want to do was to be too close to the film, and we tried to walk away [from that], but I'm sure there might be some similarities that you see in there because it's who we are.

Lucy: Following on from that, I did have a question about if there were any challenges where you couldn't get away from something that you saw in the films that you wanted to interpret. Maybe something that was a bit more iconic, and even something like... Obviously, the film has a depiction of the Chamber itself. But you could have gone any way with it.

Eduardo: I think for those [kinds] of locations, the intention is more on the objects. With this one, the Howler is so iconic, the one we designed for the film, that we didn't want to... And again it was like, "But that was nice, how the Howler was done for the film. How are we going to do something else?" I think those moments are where you can get, not stuck, but like, "Oh! I need to rethink this. It's looking too close to the film." The number one rule is we don't look. We completely forget about the films. The Slytherin common room in the film [is seen] very quickly, and now, at least here in this book, you can spend a little bit more time there to look. It's quite grand and Art Nouveau. Our version of the Hogwarts Library is much more grand and beautiful. I would like to be in that library.

Lucy: Brilliant. There are a lot of little details within. Is there anything in particular that you want fans and readers to keep an eye out for within the smaller details of your drawings? You just pointed out the outside of the Slytherin common room. Is there anything in particular [in terms of] smaller details?

Eduardo: Yeah, there are, but I don't want to tell you.

[Both laugh]

Eduardo: Otherwise it would spoil the surprise. That's become a bit of a MinaLima thing as well. You look at something but when you look back you're like, "Oh!" Especially in the frames of each chapter, there are Easter eggs everywhere.

Lucy: I was going to ask you about the cover. Why green? And the tower on the spine is slightly different [from the one on] Philosopher's Stone. Is the plan to have seven covers and seven towers, maybe?

Eduardo: Oh, Lucy.

[Both laugh]

Lucy: Is that a [makes secret shushing noise]?

Eduardo: I don't know! They look great together, don't they?

Lucy: They look wonderful together. I can't wait to add one [to my collection].

Eduardo: There is a guy [who] follows us on Instagram and Facebook - he's a graphic designer - and he liked everything, but he said, "I'm not sure if I liked the spine because I don't understand... The number is not lining up." And people were like, "Don't worry, I'm sure MinaLima has a plan for that." That is how I'm going to leave that.

Lucy: You have a plan and we should stop overthinking it, is that what you're saying?

[Both laugh]

Eduardo: Yes. There is a plan. We don't know what's going to happen now with the continuation of the series. People need to keep buying the books so Scholastic and Bloomsbury feel confident we can keep going.

Lucy: That covers my question on the possibility of Prisoner of Azkaban, so we'll leave that answer as, "Maybe buy the books."

[Both laugh]

Lucy: Obviously you've taken the Chamber of Secrets designs, and you've taken that MinaLima magic and turned it into the immersive display at the House of MinaLima. Just recently you had fans into the gallery for a meet and greet. How was that, to have people back, and do those kinds of events again?

Eduardo: It was wonderful. We love doing that. Mira and I love talking to [the fans], especially when people come to us and say that they want to become graphic designers. That is like, "Okay, how long do you have?" [laughs] We were in Italy a couple of weeks ago promoting The Wizard of Oz there. It was brilliant, as well. It was fantastic. Everyone was very well spaced, everyone was wearing masks, everyone was washing their hands. It's very annoying at the moment but we still need to be careful and cautious about COVID. It was lovely. We were all taking selfies with masks on and that was boring. I should have printed my face on a mask! [I'll do that for the] next one.

Lucy: The benefit of masks is showing off fabulous mask designs. There are some great ones out there, aren't there?

Eduardo: Exactly. I was wearing a horrible blue one, the medical blue one. I hate when you wear the mask and your ears go like [mimics folding ears down]. Those ones don't do that.

Lucy: Do you have any plans to go to the flagship New York store or to the pop-up in Korea? Obviously, you said you've still got the pandemic cleaning around.

Eduardo: This year I don't think it's going to happen. I think everyone deserves to have the most beautiful Christmas with their families and be close to their loved ones. I'm going to Brazil for Christmas. I can't wait. And then next year we're hoping to do a big tour. We have to go back to Japan. We have to go to Korea; we haven't seen the shop there. And of course New York. We set up the shop from Zoom calls like, "Move that picture one inch to the side." We haven't been there yet. So there's a lot of traveling next year.

Lucy: Have you heard from fans who have been to those locations?

Eduardo: Oh my God. There were people in the shop that had already been to New York. [They said that] When they go inside MinaLima there, they are completely transported to a different world. That was exactly what we wanted to do. The shop is absolutely gorgeous with loads of Harry Potter references and props and stuff. MinaLima is a little bit of us from London, in the middle of New York. People felt that. It is a modern building, so it's been [unintelligible]. I think once people get inside the shop they are transported to our London. To the MinaLima London.

Lucy: That's really nice that you're taking that little bit of whimsical magic [and] mystery and taking it to different places.

Eduardo: But we're creating problems because people from Scotland, to France, to Belgium, and, of course, Brazil, are like, "What's wrong with us? Why don't you like us? Why do you go to very far places like Korea and Japan?" There were beautiful partnerships and that's how those things could happen. Mira said to someone, "The New York shop is our embassy in the U.S." Not embassy, maybe a consulate. Because the shop is quite small, so it's a consulate and not an embassy. It's absolutely gorgeous, that shop. I can't wait to go there. Hopefully, we will be there for a few days so we can meet and greet with people as well, and do a lot of cool stuff there.

Lucy: Yeah. I really hope that you can get to experience it yourself soon because I imagine it would have been really difficult to set it up over Zoom and not be there.

Eduardo: It was hard, but we made it.

 

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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"!