In which we visit the House of MinaLima

img_3664Be still my beating heart. This weekend, myself and fellow graphic design enthusiast (and former production gremlin as we have been affectionately known), Becca, ventured into London on a mission for cake and beautiful graphic design. We succeeded on both counts.

I am going to start this by saying that if you love Harry Potter, go to the House of MinaLima. If you love graphic design, go to the House of MinaLima. If at all possible. (Though, it is supposed to be closing in early February but there has been a petition to keep it open permanently so we shall keep all of our fingers and toes and cross-able appendages crossed, arms, legs, everything.)

It really is a spectacular display.

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The exhibition is exceedingly popular (and for good reason), as we approached, me giddy with excitement and practically bouncing down the street, we saw the queue. It wriggled around a street corner, unfortunately blocking the entry way to a pub much to their chagrin though the MinaLima staff were trying their hardest to make sure visitors left a gap, and people were joining it at a pretty constant rate. If there’s anything we British are good at, it’s queuing so we dealt with it in a way expected from Millenials; we took selfies. Even the American and French tourists we saw seemed to be in good spirits despite the long wait to get in. We were dancing about in the queue for around forty minutes (all of which were incredibly chilly).

There’s something about the magic of Harry Potter that makes queuing that bit more exciting, and makes people more happy and willing to do it – so many queue for a few moments pretending to be running through a wall in King’s Cross station, for example. The mood in the queue (how many times can I type the word queue in this little section?) was for the most part jubilant. People were excited. It may have been freezing cold but there were giggles and exclamations of joy to be heard all around. Some people left, not interested enough to stick out the chill, but those who remained seemed to bubble with energy, getting closer and closer to boiling point as they neared the door.

Once inside we were instructed to start on the first floor but before we got there, I noticed my first little detail and I knew I was going to love everything. There was a door next to the stairs, and instead of simply reading ‘No Entry’ or ‘Staff Only’ this door said ‘No Entry. Trolls in the Dungeon!’

Perfect.

img_3701The House of MinaLima is covered in design. Covered. Even the stairs had Hogwarts letters pasted to them, and the walls newsprint. The folks at MinaLima have committed wholly to not just creating an exhibition but creating an experience and it’s pretty mind-blowing.

The first floor is reserved for items from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, including wanted posters and the delightfully styled advertisements seen throughout the film. Plus all of the New Salem Philanthropic Society paraphernalia. I want all of it. I am hoping that they will release a series of t-shirts with the designs on. That would make me incredibly happy, already owning one courtesy of LootCrate.

img_3704We had a little bit of a wait before we could ascend the winding staircase once again to reach the second floor but the waiting is more than worth it. I think the second floor was my favourite.   

I had heard, from the radios held by the staff members, the word Marauders several times while looking around the first floor. I had assumed it was just code for the visitors until I reached the second floor. The entire floor is made up of a section of the Marauder’s Map and it is incredible. I had imagined wonderful things but I had never imagined I would be walking on that map.

img_3685Along with the wonder of the map are labels from potions, labels from Dumbledore’s memories, the Whomping Willow as it appears on the map, Hogwarts letters hanging from the ceiling as if they’re falling and lots of other lovely papery coloured things. Muted colours. It was very calming.

Until you venture behind the door. Behind the door is the Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes section and it explodes with colour. Even the walls and floor are brightly patterned. I was squeaking with delight on a near permanent basis.

img_3683The third and last floor had two rooms, one larger with a fire place from which hundreds of letters cascaded, and the covers and designs of all of the books Harry and the gang use in their Hogwarts career.

I adored this part. I love books and I love book design and I love designing books so seeing the covers as I had never really seen them before was a wonderful experience. Not only that but enclosed in cases on the walls (which looked delightfully Victorian) were actual copies of the books as used in the films. Most were battered and worn as if they were old and it took all of my willpower not to beg the nearest staff member to let me hold one.

img_3682The second room has Harry’s Undesirable No.1 poster and the wanted posters of Bellatrix and Sirius, as well as many front pages of the Daily Prophet. For such a small room, it is quite imposing.

In terms of the building’s structure, the third floor was my favourite. It’s so old that the floor is warped into waves and it feels light a building right out of Diagon Alley. I can imagine the amount of careful thought that went into choosing just the right building. They got it spot on.

img_3686Even if I was absolutely terrified of walking back down the stairs.

I present this statement with the adjacent evidence: look at my face in this picture. This picture represents both my absolute terror at being stood on the stairs and having to then walk down them (stairs are a problem for me) but also my absolute wonder at all of the beautiful design and pretty much being inside the world of Harry Potter. I tried so hard in this photo. I don’t hate it (which is surprising considering it’s not one I took myself). I am getting better at liking photos. I am proud of myself.

img_3702Luckily for me, not many people were wanting to come down and no one was currently wanting to go up, so my descent was not traumatising (for the most part, I was incredibly nervous the whole way down). It was so worth the stairs. I was so nervous when I was in the queue, despite my excitement, I had read on the website about the uneven stairs and I had been thinking about it ever since. But I was determined not to let it stop me and I am so glad my determination won out.

img_3695The gift shop was last. There was a sale on. It would have been rude not to buy anything. Rude. I wanted to buy a print but couldn’t quite justify the spend right there and then and didn’t feel like I could make such an important decision about which one on the spot. I am not ruling out buying one online though. In fact, I probably will. Instead, I opted for the two sets of Hogwarts postcards (each with book covers and such inside) and an original MinaLima design on a t-shirt. A Parliament of Owls. I had to. I also intend to buy their Murder of Crows design, and am hoping for a Tiding of Magpies to be sold as apparel too. Not to mention their exquisitely produced editions of Peter PanThe Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast. I am a sucker for their design and I am not ashamed.

Much to my surprise Miraphora Mina was actually there. I was too chicken to say anything to her (I had no idea what to say) but it made me so happy to be in the same place as one of the creative minds behind all of that incredible work. From what I heard of someone else’s conversation with her (they were inquiring about work experience) she seemed very down to earth and willing to help budding designers. Excellent.

I hope they are able to keep it open, I would love to venture back there again and I would love more people to be able to see it. It’s incredible and it was an afternoon well spent.

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Inktober ’15: Week Five

I did it! I stuck to my schedules (almost, we can ignore the bit where I went on holiday – I stuck to my schedules after that), I completed a project and I am happy with most of the things I created during said project. I will definitely be doing this again next year!

Week five included more brush pen experimentation, the completion of a video game and therefore another piece dedicated to it, Halloween, and returning to my biro-ie roots.

Click to enlarge!

There will be one more Inktober-related post, once I have had time to reflect. Until then, you will find me behind a sketchbook. Still.

Inktober ’15: Week Four

It may be a week late but this afternoon, I proudly return to the blog to present to you the penultimate week of Inktober. During this week, I used brush pens for the first time, got very excited about coloured biros and drew many whales. Go me!

The final Inktober weekly roundup will appear tomorrow and some extras will appear on the blog after that. Hooray.

As ever, click the images to enlarge them.

Inktober ’15: Week Three

I can hardly believe it myself… but I have made it through Week Three. Well, two weeks plus not-really-a-Week One. Over halfway through, regardless. It’s impressive when we consider my knack for saying I will do things and then ending up horrendously busy. I have decided that Sundays are messy days.

So far, I’ve not really used my list very much. I will be trying to rectify that this week. But not today, today I might try some realism. Who knows, I’ve not started it yet. We shall see.

My moleskine is looking very healthy. As ever, click to enlarge.

Inktober ’15: Week Two

I love October. I love the way the leaves change colour, I love the way the sky lights up when the sun rises and sets, I love that there is a holiday based on everything weird and wonderful (with strong folklorey roots). October, possibly tied with September though I am not sure, is my favourite month.

Now that I’m on the 12th day of Inktober, I have another reason to love October: I get to create something every day. I could do this any month, of course, but having a deadline and a specific tool to slot into each piece means that I am actually doing it. At the end of Week Two, I am feeling driven, and a little bit smug. I like it.

This week, I expanded my Letraset collection by buying some blacks and a basic set of bright colours. I’ve only used colour in one image so far but am also planning on it for today’s. We shall see. Pretty much killed the two lighter grey markers that I only bought when the project started. I also got more likes on Instagram for a doodle, which I allowed myself only because of how big the day before’s piece was, than I have for my favourite Inktober illustration (I am feeling a little bitter about that, why did it have to be that one?) and almost every other come to mention it. Wonder of wonders, I ended up creating a non-Inktober related drawing as a gift, which I was very proud of.

My true triumph this week, however, was a really real background. That’s right! You read correctly! I actually drew a background, and I will be trying for another today. I really hope it wasn’t a one-time-only deal. Gulp.

As ever, click to enlarge. Enjoy!

Day six was created for a campaign currently being run by the publishing house I work for, using the hashtag #AnxiousMe! See twitter for details. You could win a comic, so you should totally check it out.

Day ten is a tribute to a beautiful game called Child of Light, which everyone should play and love, for it is incredible. Thank you to the male person for buying it for me! :)

Inktober ’15: Week One

Happy Monday! As of last night, I have made it through not-really-a-Week One of Inktober. I am proud of myself, and shocked by the amount I have fallen in love with my materials. Last Thursday, before beginning my jaunt into the realm of ink and glory, I skipped off to the London Graphic Centre to buy some markers, a white gel pen, some fine liners and a shiny new Moleskine. I came away with three teeny tiny Microns and a set of Ice Grey Letraset Promarkers, as well as the aforementioned Moleskine; I am in love.

I’d never used markers before, and I am still getting used to them, but they are now a firm favourite in my artistic arsenal. Excellent.

Anyway, without further ado (and before I descend into a love-rant), here are the first four of my Inktober images. Hooray! (click to enlarge)

See you next Monday for Week Two!

Inktober ’15

In true Elou fashion, I have decided to leap back into this creative-activity and blogging revival head first and challenge myself. Really challenge myself. I’ve previously mentioned my inability to stick to schedules in my personal creative and bloggy sphere, and, as such, have decided to give myself not one but two. Oh.

As of tomorrow, once I have skipped out of the office to buy a new sketchbook and hopefully some creative tools, I will be embarking on Inktober. For those who don’t know, Inktober is an art challenge in which you create a new piece every single day in October using some variation of ink (schedule number one); for me, this will probably mean a lot of biro but I am hoping to experiment. To my knowledge, there isn’t an existing list of things to draw, so I am creating my own. If you have any suggestions, let me know in the comments!

To avoid clogging my blog with a new post every day (cue schedule number two), I will be posting weekly round-ups on Mondays, including images from Monday to Sunday of the week before (Thursday to Sunday of this week!), and this entry will turn into a master post of sorts. Excellent.

If you want to follow my Inktober in real time, you can follow my Instagram or my (currently empty) snazzy, new Tumblr – I thought it was about time I made one specifically for my arty endeavours, rather than just using my junk tumblr. I will be intermittently posting older photography, doodles and other art-like things. Excuse its current emptiness.

If you’re also cannon-balling into Inktober, let me know in the comments so I can follow your progress! Happy doodling!

Definition #08: squall

squall

It is not always weather that storms. It is not always the beating, crashing, cataclysmic battering of the sea which causes the swells to drum their irregular chorus against the shore. The gulls had been quiet when it happened, when the spark descended and the Orarian was irresistibly coaxed by firm ground and cityscapes but they felt it. They felt the ripple of it. And they did not want her to leave. The colony looks after its own and she is owned by the sea. It rises in squall and calls her back, grasps the tenuous hooks of civilisation and pulls. They release with a faint click and are lost. Her dress feathers in the wind and she is the storm.


This image took two weeks. I shouldn’t choose favourites but I do and so far this is it. So much love and work went into this image. There is power there. I challenged myself and the challenge was a success. The Orarian has returned and will return again. Perhaps one of my favourite shoots, I will never get enough of it.

I decided to be playful with the word here. And I am in love.

See this on tumblr, facebook, flickrinstagram, pinterest (better quality)

 

Definition #06: maumet

maumet

Deep in the bowels of the odditorium, where little antiquarians scarcely travel and where the thrummings and shakings are more resonant, there sits an old thing—waiting in the dark beneath webs of spiders who have long since decided that such dark and unfavourable places are not for inhabiting. The head, which has sat on the same tilt for much too long, straightens and cracks branch across a slender neck and down. Her varnish is chipping. She remembers, with some small flicker of spite, a time when antiquities—those inclined to walk, live, talk, feel, follow—would flock to the deep places and lay dust motes at her feet. Perhaps, with the shuddering mass of the odditorium moving beneath them, they would come again.


This was going to contain a different face but then, looking through my archives, I found this. Never released. Never edited. But perfect. As if it had been waiting for me to catch up, complete the idea and release it into the wild. This photo was taken a few years ago, on holiday with my favourite team. Dress.Simple worked her magic (and will be releasing more from this shoot shortly) and there, in front of us, stood something not quite real. Almost perfect but with something off.

See this on tumblr, facebook, flickrinstagram, pinterest (better quality)

Definition #04: thalassophilous

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She feels it too. The spark. It courses through the waves and tickles the sand beneath her toes. The Orarian is often found gazing across the sea, watching it tap Morse code on the shore, responding only with the pads of her feet and the touch of her fingertips. The water fragments her image, rippling her out and in and out and in. The beach is deserted save for the gulls. She has not seen another human for weeks, keeping counsel with the birds and the fish and the crabs which scuttle between rock and sea. But then there is the spark and she feels a small tug of civilisation, faint but insistent. Like a fishing line. Like a hook.


It was cold, overcast, perfectly British. The clouds were in full force. You will have seen a similar image before, a small tease to this one. The image came first. Sort of. I’d seen the word in passing, not thinking to note it down but it attached itself to the back of my mind anyway. This shoot was a favour. Sort of. The partner in crime wanted to be in this dress, on this beach. I wanted something striking, something unlike most of my body of work so far. We both obliged each other. I knew the sea wanted to be in Definition, I just had to work out how.

 See this on tumblr, facebook, flickrinstagram, pinterest