MinaLima comprises Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima (pictured above), who started working together in 2001 to create the graphic universe of the Harry Potter films. Sharing a common artistic vision, they crafted the entire graphic style of all the Harry Potter movies. Motivated by this flourishing collaboration, in 2009 they formed their own design studio, MinaLima, with the objective of creating distinctive and unconventional design and illustration for the entertainment and publishing industries.
Since finishing on the films, Mira and Eduardo have continued their involvement in the Harry Potter franchise with numerous design commissions for the Wizarding World and in 2015, they designed the graphic props for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them series of movies. The studio has also created graphic props for films such as Sweeney Todd, The Golden Compass and The Imitation Game.
We spoke to Mira and Eduardo and walked through an exhibition of their work at the Lucca Comics & Games festival to discuss Harry Potter and to find out more about their work…
Could you describe how everything began for MinaLima?
Miraphora Mina: Well, we were working as two freelancers for the Harry Potter films, and so our energies were focused on delivering Warner Brothers the best work we could for that series of films.
But as time went by, on the second film, there was a creative connection between the two of us and as we started to approach the end of the series in 2010, everybody was freelance on the films and everyone was going to just scatter into the world of filmmaking. But for us, we started to joke and talk a bit about ‘when we have our studio, when we have our team’…. honestly it started off as a bit of chit chat and then getting closer to that end date and packing up all our stuff that had been like 10 years of working there…
Eduardo Lima: We kind of just held up our hands and said that we can’t separate!
Miraphora Mina: We booked some appointments to go see offices in central London and we felt very grown up!
Eduardo Lima: We were a little bit naive as well, in a nice way that we didn’t have a business plan, we just had this desire to carry on working together.
Miraphora Mina: We had one employee, one very good assistant who had worked on the films with us. All we knew was that we wanted to carry on being creative together and we wanted broaden our horizons creatively. And quite quickly, over the following 10 years, that one assistant grew to 10 and then it went to 20. Now we’re 60 people!
Are your designs on the screen in the Harry Potter films what you had in your head when you first read the books?
Miraphora Mina: The weird thing is when we first started working on the films, we didn’t have a relationship with the books yet. So I think our first experience was very different because it was with the film’s script.
Then we went and read the books to try and support the work we were doing on the set. But we were always having to stick to the script because otherwise you could go off and get distracted!
What has it been like for you to help create the world of the Harry Potter movies? The Marauder’s Map, for instance, is so iconic…
Miraphora Mina: It doesn’t go away. Whether it’s a new generation or people reading our books…
Eduardo Lima: There was a turning point back in 2012. People used to come to us and say ‘I love your designs but I want to have to hang in the house, I don’t want products only’ so we went to Warner Brothers again, not even fully prepared…
Miraphora Mina: Like Dragon’s Den [haha].
Eduardo Lima: It’s definitely unusual for crew members to go to the studios to licence back the designs we did for the films, so we did the proposal for Warner Brothers and they said yes.
And we said ‘shit, how are we going to do it?’ and we launched the website at a Harry Potter convention in Chicago. That was the first time that we were invited to talk about our work to an audience.
Miraphora Mina: That was sort of a seminal moment because we had some kind of intuition that people liked the stuff in the films but it was just like ‘oh, let’s give this a go’. And that sealed it because there were thousands of fans there that were all going crazy.
Eduardo Lima: We were giving a talk and we were showing some slides of the props and people started applauding and we’re like ‘what’s going on?!’ It was amazing. Every time we started talking to people, no one was coming to us and asking, ‘do you know Daniel?’ They were asking ‘so which paper did you use on the Marauders Map? How did you age it?’ So that was fantastic to know that people were very curious and interested in the process.
Miraphora Mina: That was the beginning. It’s just amazing. You don’t expect that to happen when you work on a film.
Eduardo Lima: Everyone in the world knows the Marauder’s Map and it’s our version!