Prints and permits: graphics help bring Rowling's magical world to life

LONDON (Reuters) - On a table in a London studio, copies of “The New York Ghost” newspaper lie beside a pile of applications for wand permits. Nearby a “Witch’s Friend” magazine teases winter fashion trends.

The items by graphic designers Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima are among the fantastical creations helping bring to life “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling’s latest offering from her magical world of witches and wizards, movie “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”.

The duo, who met on the “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” set, worked on eight films in the hugely popular series, designing items like “The Daily Prophet” newspaper with moving pictures to the magically revealing “Marauder’s Map”.

Along with other creative teams from the “Harry Potter” films, they have returned with more intricate designs for spin-off “Fantastic Beasts” to help tell the new story of “magizoologist” Newt Scamander.

The movie, set 70 years before the first “Harry Potter” books, unfolds in 1926 as Scamander, played by Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne, arrives in New York with a case of magical creatures.

“It was quite an organic transition for most people because quite a lot of the people who had worked on the ‘Harry Potter’ films stayed together for ‘Fantastic Beasts’,” Mina told Reuters in the graphic designers’ MinaLima studio.

“The things that made it naturally easy for anyone creatively was that it was a new location, a specific period in time as opposed to a contemporary period referencing historical periods (like in ‘Harry Potter’) so having those markers...are actually kind of really good anchors to build on.”

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The duo came up with all sorts of graphic designs for the movie - from a poster for “The Blind Pig” speakeasy to the Magical Congress of the United States of America’s insignia.

“Newt’s...passport, like all his little belongings and all the medicines labels he uses to treat the beasts, we had to do one by one,” Lima said.

The designers start work six months before shooting with visual research and questions for Rowling to get more information for items like Scamander’s passport.

“We need to ask Jo those things like what’s his birthday, where was he born, all those details that you might not see,” Mina said. “We have to create the integrity of a piece.”

Mina and Lima are exhibiting their work at the four-storey House of MinaLima, where fans can view graphic art prints from the films. On display across the building’s wooden floors and draped windows are posters, signage, front pages and props.

“It’s completely immersive, you feel that perhaps the building could be part of that universe of the wizarding world,” Mina said. “We wanted people to feel that they are maybe in Diagon Alley, but now a bit in New York as well,” Lima added.

Reporting By Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Toby Chopra