MinaLima, the iconic graphic design studio for the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts films, has reimagined the second book in the boy wizard series, with designs and illustrations fans have never seen before.
By Victoria Lim
MinaLima’s new edition of “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” will enchant a new generation of readers and delight fans who may have read the book decades ago when it was first published, and perhaps several times since.
“We’re not using anything we designed form the film. We completely forgot everything from the film. We’re trying to unthink a lot of the iconic moments and introduce some visual references of moments that didn’t get seen in the films, because that in itself as a medium had to be such a concise version of the book. It was quite a labor of love,” said Miraphora Mina.
For example, readers will see a full picture of the Slytherin common room, which film viewers did not see. They’ll also see their full-view version of the Hogwarts’ library, and the Great Hall during Valentine’s Day.
When Harry and Ron meet Aragog at his forest lair, the book illustration has an overhead view — which is different from the movie.
“I think we treated the books as little films as well,” added Eduardo Lima. “We’re kind of like directors and casting because we think about new faces, think about locations, the buildings, the backgrounds, the artists — all of those things. So, it’s more than just graphics and props, as we used to do for the films.”
Mina and Lima note the humor that “peppers” the writing of the first two books that they tried to capture through the color composition and the moments they chose to recreate. While this new edition is a book with illustrations, they don’t consider it to be a graphic novel. Rather, the design is what they call it their “house style.”
“It’s really referencing a kind of vintage aesthetic, I think, which also offers a nostalgia in some subliminal way to the reader,” Mina said. “I think there’s a comfort in a style that has a kind of vintage quality to it, like, it’s something we’ve known from the past. We’ve never really set out to be high-tech. We sort of want our aesthetic to have a handcrafted feel.”
That intention even extends to details like the style of the cover and the type of paper they used. They admit the illustrations would look more vibrant using coated stock paper but that’s not the kind of experience they want readers to have with these editions.
“We are crazy about books. Not just the object, but we go to fairs and markets and rescue old books,” Lima said. “That’s how we like those books and want this to be something that maybe could be living there for lots of years and people really cherish and treasure.”
“The relationship with the book is so physical and so emotional that we’re always thinking about that when we’re designing,” Mina said. “We have the benefit as a studio of being an illustrator and designer. They are two distinct roles. Quite often, an illustrator will be brought in to illustrate someone’s work and then another studio or publisher will design it and put those pictures in. But we have the privilege of thinking of everything from the endpapers to the typography, and how the typography plays with the images. It’s very three-dimensional, kind of like a piece of architecture.”
A surprise and delight element of these new editions is the interactivity. Not to be confused with a traditional pop-up feature, readers will be able to turn, pull, slide, and open eight paper-engineered pages, such as the first time the reader visits the Weasley’s home and when Harry travels by Floo Network.
The MinaLima duo and their studio already published similar recreations of classic stories “Peter Pan,” “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” and their 2020 special edition of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” J.K. Rowling’s literary agent brought the project to them, which they say seems like the natural continuation of their journey with the Wizarding World.
“We had done 10 years on the films, worked on graphic designs for the theme parks, a little bit for marketing and the theatrical side of the film release, worked on our own company, own pop-up spaces and products,” said Mina. “We had little feet in a lot of bits of the franchise and in all honesty, no one had said, ‘The one thing you hadn’t been to the is the root of all of this, the book.’ So, when they came to us, it was like, ‘Oh yes, of course. The circle is now complete.'”
The new MinaLima illustrated edition of “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” is available starting today, Oct. 26, through Scholastic and Harry Potter New York.