Collectibles: the Harry Potter factor

Set designers tap into the frenzy for Potter merchandise by offering limited-edition pieces they created for the film series

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 15 March, 2013, 10:05am

You might think that after creating props for Harry Potter films for more than a decade, Miraphora Mina would have reached her boy-wizard threshold. But that's not the case.

Instead, Mina and Eduardo Lima, her business partner whom she met on the set of Harry Potter in 2001, set up The Printorium in Britain last September that sells limited-edition designs from the sets of the films, including book covers from Hogwarts' Library, the first page of The Daily Prophet newspaper, The Marauder's Map and a poster for the 422nd Quidditich World Cup.

"We created hundreds of unique graphic prop designs for the eight Harry Potter films ... things like books, maps and newspapers," Mina says. "After filming we were also involved with designing merchandise like packaging for DVDs, online catalogues - things that require the aesthetic we created for the films. Everything followed specific design conventions established in the films."

But when filming stopped the couple decided to help continue the Potter legacy. "We had created a huge body of work and thought it would be a shame to stop there so we pursued the idea of making a collectable art project. A lot of work wasn't seen in the films, or is seen only in the background so it exists as a part of Harry Potter's world. We wanted The Printorium to be a design project that reflected our passion for typography, design, composition and period ephemera.

"We had the freedom to fuse all of this in the Harry Potter films, and it seemed a shame for the substantial body of work to stop there. Warner Brothers was keen to strengthen the brand, and encouraged us to develop this idea as part of their collectable line."

It's estimated that more than 400 million Harry Potter books have been sold worldwide, spawning highly successful movies and video games and a merchandising frenzy that has led to the licensing of more than 400 related products (including an iPod). And with a brand estimated to be worth more than US$15 billion, it's easy to see why one would be tempted to get a slice of the Potter pie.

The couple knew they were on to something big when they attended LeakyCon, a Harry Potter convention in Chicago last year. "We realised we were part of something really important for a lot of people. We gave a talk and showed images of the original props and were expecting a few hundred people, but instead found ourselves in front of 4,000 Potter fans who were really interested in all things design. It was humbling."

The Printorium also offers a premium print collection. In editions of just 250, these are signed by Mina and Lima and feature hand-worked processes such as gold and silver foil.