Few fans know Hogwarts inside and out like graphic artist duo Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima. The pair, who operate MinaLima Design Studio, are responsible for the graphic design of the Harry Potter universe. Over the course of a decade, they developed all of the newspapers, tabloids, letters, and book covers that populate seven of the eight films.
For the first time, a significant portion of their work was collected for an exhibition in London. On view were copies of The Daily Prophet, the Marauder’s Map, and Ministry of Magic propaganda posters. Missed the show? No worries: The original graphics are reproduced as limited-edition prints, each signed and numbered, and set on a white matte background.
Despite the conclusion of the film cycle two years ago, Mina and Lima remain very much entrenched in the visual world of Harry Potter. They continue to be involved with the franchise’s merchandising efforts–most recently on the signage for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park in Orlando. The massively popular attraction is adding new rides and environments, including a version of the London shopping hub Diagon Alley. The expansion will be completed next year.
Much of the work that made up the exhibition was never seen on film, at least not close-up. (Which gave them license to author the filler text of The Quibbler and the Prophet.) The graphics use vintage fonts, taken from old books, but also nod to the history of graphic design. “The stories, set in present day, gave us a great deal of freedom to establish a visual aesthetic that would describe a ‘magic’ world,” the designers tell Co.Design. “Some of this came from the direction given by the architecture of the set designs, but much of it came from the demands of the fiction, prompting us to reference particular historical periods and styles.”
The look and feel of Hogwarts is Gothic (revival), much like the school’s ornately carved architecture. Ministry of Magic official decrees riff off the lines and simple geometries of Constructivist poster design. And an advert for the Quidditch World Cup incorporates retro graphics seemingly inspired by midcentury Olympics posters.
The design of the set dressing had to sell the story, with visual clues provided by J.K. Rowling herself, the partners say. The Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes shop, for example, was a “complete branding exercise,” requiring “an unsophisticated, sometimes vulgar, aesthetic” concomitant with a successful but unwieldy business run by two teenage boys. Tabloid “reporter” Rita Skeeter’s slimy personality is reflected in the “gaudy and salacious” cover treatment of her dubious but best-selling Dumbledore biography. And Dolores Umbridge’s prissy, unnerving temperament and her punitive measures are sheathed in a disarming layer of pink.
Mina and Lima met on set of The Chamber of Secrets, the second film in the Potter series. They collaborated on each successive movie, eventually forming a bond and partnership that continues to this day. “In spite of our long-standing relationship with Harry Potter, every new commission brings its own exciting new design challenge,” they say. Their work is catalogued on The Printorium, which they launched late last year to satiate fans. All that’s missing are the moving photos.