MinaLima Brings the Magic of Harry Potter & More to Lucca

Lucca Comics & Games Puts Their Work on Full Display

MinaLima Brings the Magic of Harry Potter & The Classics to Lucca

Lucca Comics & Games brought people from all walks of life together, including games, film, and general nerd culture. A geek-centered festival would not be complete without a dash of Harry Potter, and Lucca brought the work of MinaLima to the stunning Chiesa di San Cristoforo church.

Minalima Brings The Magic Of Harry Potter &Amp; The Classics To Lucca

MinaLima is the duo behind the props you see in the Harry Potter properties, including the Fantastic Beasts films. They have also worked on Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, The Golden Compass and The Imitation Game.

Harry Potter itself is a property that has spanned many mediums. From books to films to merchandise and now a game in Hogwarts Legacy, anyone can get their hands on the franchise. What I found even more exciting, though, are the illustrated books MinaLima produces. What began as a duo is now a team of over 20, and they take on set props, but also these stunning books from the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beast series, but also from the Classics like The Little Mermaid, Pinocchio, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Beauty and the Beast and more.

CGM was treated to an exclusive interview with the minds behind MinaLima, Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima, at Lucca Comics & Games to celebrate their 22-year relationship.

Minalima Brings The Magic Of Harry Potter &Amp; The Classics To Lucca

Thank you for being here. How does it feel to be celebrating MinaLima and not just Harry Potter?

Miraphora Mina: That’s such a nice question. To be honest, you work so hard building your own world and your own brand. It’s a focus. It’s only now seen through people because you can’t see it from your own studio or your own insight, which is too subjective. But seeing people come in here because they want a bit of MinaLima, or they want to understand what MinaLima is or a signature. 

That’s often demonstrated when people come for a signing with both Classics and Harry Potter. It’s become very clear that it’s more about that than just coming in for Harry Potter. Harry Potter is a good gateway to MinaLima.

You said 22 years. How has the process and the team changed in those 22 years?

Eduardo Lima: Until Harry Potter Six [Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince], it was just me and Mira. Harry Potter Six, we had one fantastic assistant. We had to bring in another five to help us because of the Weasley’s shop. There were so many projects that we were grateful for that.

And after we set up as a studio in 2010, we kept Lauren, our fantastic assistant. And suddenly, I thought, “Oh, we need one more, we need two more, we need three more.” Because also the Wizarding World, we thought that was it when we set up the studio MinaLima and had a few months off. But Universal Studios said, “Okay, we want you back. Hogwarts is calling you back because we need your help to design the theme park.” And again, that’s where we had to recruit more wizards. Now, we have a fantastic team of over 20 designers and illustrators.

Miraphora Mina: In terms of the process, I think we apply the same principles as we did in the films and even with each other. It’s about trusting, and at the center of everything is trusting other people’s contributions and opinions and not being fearful to delegate.

Minalima Brings The Magic Of Harry Potter &Amp; The Classics To Lucca

Has it been hard to let go and pass it off to other people?

Miraphora Mina: Well, we are control freaks. It’s important that the studio has a style, so that needs shepherding. We see ourselves as shepherds, bringing all this talent in to follow the same route to the end result. But it’s really important to us that people feel empowered and proud of what they do. When we see pride in the studio, that’s really important because it drives an enthusiasm to get on with the next project.

Eduardo Lima: It’s just annoying when, as a creative, you spend more time doing management and Excel spreadsheets while creating. That’s where it becomes frustrating. But I think we had two fantastic teachers in Harry Potter: Stuart Craig, the production designer, and Stephenie McMillan, the set decorator. 

As Mira said, they led the department in a way that allowed everyone to have a voice, and that’s the main lesson we learned from them.

So, the next question is, what’s the secret to a 22-year working relationship? 

Eduardo Lima: And we still like each other. Mira is my family because, as I said, I moved from Brazil, and Mira was the first person I really properly met in the industry. We quickly became more than colleagues; we became like family. Now she’s my family.

Miraphora Mina: I think the secret, though, is the same with, I guess, a marriage is sharing the same values. So, you know, obviously, we share the same opinion about design and typography, and what’s exciting visually. But underneath all that, you cannot have a business with someone that you’re doing 20 hours a day with if you don’t share the same life values. So that’s the secret sauce.

Eduardo Lima: And even in difficult situations, just try to, I don’t know, resolve with humour because, at the end of the day, we are creating art and graphic design. We are not saving the world or curing cancer. So you don’t have that passion. So we kind of have to put things in perspective.

Minalima Brings The Magic Of Harry Potter &Amp; The Classics To Lucca

You’re both obviously very talented, very creative people. How did you choose books, sets and props to be your outlet?

Miraphora Mina: Well, I actually trained in theatre design. I don’t think I had any plans to be a theatre designer, but it suited the mix of wanting to work in three-dimensional form and in storytelling and design and drawing. All those things were sort of in me. That was the perfect outlet for that. So, for me, working in set design seemed like a really good expression. But actually, I was so obsessed with detail that once I discovered that you could do graphic props for films and sort of hone that into these mini set pieces, then that became a real voice for creativity.

Eduardo Lima: I studied visual communication and graphic design. So, I think the marriage of Mira’s 3D and my graphic design becomes something.

You keep growing together. That’s what I see.

Eduardo Lima: But again, one of the things that we first talked about when we met was our childhood. You can see that as well in our The Magic of MinaLima book. We were already creating props. When I was a child, instead of going outside playing football with my brother, he got so annoyed with me because I was inside drawing and making little packages and little products, creating my own shops. And Mira was doing the same on the other side of the world.

Minalima Brings The Magic Of Harry Potter &Amp; The Classics To Lucca

So we discussed a little bit about using family names and your pictures in Brazil in your pieces. How much of you goes into the work that you do?

Miraphora Mina: In a funny way, it shouldn’t. Like the whole point of the films, you almost are trying not to give a personal identity because, as you said before, about the potion book or the Marauder’s Map, the Marauder’s map was created by the Marauders. It was not created by us. So you’re always trying to resist being me or being us in favour of being the character. 

Either the Weasleys created all that amazing stuff they needed to sell, but they weren’t designers, and they probably weren’t very good at design, so we had to kind of channel that. And that’s what we hope makes things authentic, trying to bring the personality of the character or the place.

Like you become actors while building.

Miraphora Mina: Yes. We call it method graphics.

Eduardo Lima: And I said yesterday, we gave another interview, and they said, “Oh, I wish I could go back in time and wear the costumes,” because sometimes we were doing things for witches, or Umbridge, or Snape.

Miraphora Mina: Only talking about it now, that you realize I don’t remember ever sort of saying, “What we really need to do is…” We just kind of understood that the story was key, and it needed to drive us.

Eduardo Lima: And that was more or less the same approach as well for the Classics. With Peter Pan, that was the first one. Again, we kind of thought, “Okay, if Wendy has a book about Peter Pan in her room, what would that book look like?” 

Miraphora Mina: We were bringing the same philosophy that we did in films to the book. And in fact, we hope that all the books in the Classics could come from the world they’re from. So, Beauty and the Beast could be from a library and that universe.

Minalima Brings The Magic Of Harry Potter &Amp; The Classics To Lucca

Now, the switch from film to books, obviously it’s a different system. Do you prefer one or the other? And how do those processes vary?

Eduardo Lima: I think with the Classics, we have even more freedom. HarperCollins was fantastic to really say, “Guys, let’s do this together. You are in charge.” That was fantastic that they allowed us to do that. With Harry Potter, of course, it’s a little bit different because we needed to get approvals for everything, but I don’t think we liked one more than the other.

Miraphora Mina: They’re very different processes. And in a way, the bookwork, we have much more control over because, as we said, you’re everybody. 

Eduardo Lima: We are like the directors.

Miraphora Mina: Yeah, but it’s much more contained and condensed than the film will ever be, because with the film, you really are building a world, and you need to drag people in really quickly. So they’re very different mediums. But I think we both, even just from the day-to-day, quite enjoy working in our studio and building our own team. With the publishing, we can do that, and with the future projects that we—that don’t exist yet—hopefully, we’ll be able to do that too.

Eduardo Lima: And knowing that our books are on thousands of people’s shelves in the world and…

And languages.

Minalima Brings The Magic Of Harry Potter &Amp; The Classics To Lucca

Eduardo Lima: And languages. This is overwhelming, actually, sometimes.

Miraphora Mina: A film, you have to wait for the film to be projected or to switch your TV on or whatever, but there’s something kind of ethereal about it that doesn’t exist until you kind of switch it on. But with the book, it’s such a physical thing that it’s actually there.

You were talking about a lot of your fans being adults, but with those books, they’re being passed down from generation to generation. So how does it feel knowing that not only are the books in their houses but they are being passed down and a tradition now? 

Miraphora Mina: If there is a treasury or, you know, a sort of legacy thing attached to it…what a gift! In the same way that if we mentioned the Marauder’s Map, that one from the film probably came into your head. It’s a real gift to be able to be responsible for things that stay in the culture or stay alive.

To make your mark on history. Now, just a couple of fun questions. Are there any properties you haven’t gotten your hands on that would be a dream for you?

Miraphora Mina: Our own.

Eduardo Lima: Ah, yes! We are working on a couple of ideas.

What are your favourite Harry Potter and favourite Classic characters?

Eduardo Lima: So, Harry Potter, for me, I like the female villains. Bellatrix, especially. 

Miraphora Mina: And from the classics, I think it’s probably Alice. You know, just because it’s the sort of thing I would do.

Minalima Brings The Magic Of Harry Potter &Amp; The Classics To Lucca

Do you have any set pieces or props you’ve taken for yourself? And do you have any that were your favourite or the most challenging to make?

Miraphora Mina: So the most challenging and favourite are the same because that usually happens when you build a relationship with something when you’re struggling. And then you’re kind of like, “Yes, I did it!”. And the late nights on the Marauder’s Map when Alfonso Cuarón said, “No, no, no, I need a bit more, a bit more, a bit more…Okay, you’re right, you’re right.” So, yeah, that’s probably that.

Eduardo Lima: And for me, it was the Daily Prophet as a journalist. Again, with the Daily Prophet, we were only given the main headline and everything else we had to invent ourselves. We didn’t have a copywriter. That’s what we were. And that was sometimes challenging. So you really were the editor. I used to say to Mira, “I need your help. I need that headline, but I need only three words.” And after the launch, I said, “Oh no, no, no.” We have people that only do headlines because it’s a kind of a different thing.”

Did you take any props home with you?

Eduardo Lima: One thing that I got was a wanted poster that Helena Bonham Carter signed for me.

Minalima Brings The Magic Of Harry Potter &Amp; The Classics To Lucca

You can read more about MinaLima, the Classics and Harry Potter on their official website.

Dayna Eileen
Dayna Eileen

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