Graphic design: I designed the graphic props for the Wizarding World

Meet Miraphora Mina – graphic designer, Hufflepuff, and part of the design duo behind the graphic props for the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts film series. Part of our Making the Magic collection.

Ultimately, our role is to try and push the story forward by virtue of the details that are in people’s hands or on walls – all the things are connected by graphic design.

What does your role involve?

As a graphic designer, I work with my business partner, Eduardo Lima, to imagine and create graphic universes for films. Anything that needs to convey a message visually is our remit. So, for the Harry Potter films, that's things like The Daily Prophet newspaper, Harry's Hogwarts acceptance letter or the packaging for Weasley's Wizard Wheezes joke shop products.

Graphic designer wasn't an official role in the film industry when I started out. There were always people designing props with graphic elements but it wasn't really recognised as a distinct role. There used to be about six people doing this kind of work for film in this country and now there are over 300 so I think it became obvious to the industry that that role needed to be defined and acknowledged.

What have you worked on?

We've worked on all the Harry Potter and the Fantastic Beasts films, as well as a number of other Wizarding World commissions including designing all the graphic elements for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando Resort. Our studio, MinaLima, has also created graphic props for films like Sweeney Todd, The Golden Compass and The Imitation Game. Outside of film, we've illustrated a bestselling book series for HarperCollins and set up a gallery and store to showcase our work.

"Yer a wizard, Harry!": Miraphora designed the very letter that confirmed Harry's place at Hogwarts.

How did you get your job?

I did an Art foundation course and then a Theatre Design qualification. After that, I studied Film Design at the National Film and Television School (NFTS). On the panel for my NFTS interview was Stuart Craig, who went on to be the production designer for the Harry Potter films. He supported me and became a mentor figure. I left NFTS a year early because I had a job offer through one of my tutors.

I built up my experience of working in the art department, and eventually as graphic prop designer, for films. Then, in 2000, I got a call from Stuart offering me a four-month stint on the Harry Potter films, which turned into years! It's where I met Eduardo, who I went on to set up a design studio with.

What's your career highlight?

Getting the chance to do Harry Potter from day one to now – about 20 years later – has been incredible. When we finished the original eight films, it was only the beginning of another chapter with our studio and projects that continue to challenge us.

Miraphora's recent projects

YearProject
2015-presentFantastic Beasts films
2016The Legend of Tarzan
2014The Imitation Game
2009MinaLima design studio launch
2007Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
2007The Golden Compass
2001-2011Harry Potter films

Miraphora's top tips

  • A passion for detail is essential – if you're going for an interview, don't be afraid to show that enthusiasm! For example, you could bring a scrapbook of things that have inspired you to interviews to show the thinking behind your work
  • Keep your hand working, not just the computer. It's really important to keep up your skills for hand-produced work
  • Be aware that it's not all glitz and glamour. There are lots of of quite mundane processes that are part of the job – not every day is a Marauder's Map day!

Want to know more?

  • The Graphics Union is the union for graphic designers for Film and TV in the UK. Mina recommends this as a good place to offer up your services for work or placements
  • You can also find out more on the National Careers Service website about how to become a graphic designer
  • Check out Warner Bros. Creative Talent for scholarships, apprenticeships, work and training placements, mentoring and masterclass opportunities.
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