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Two interviews with Mary GrandPre


Of course GrandPre is not doing to tell us what happens (you wouldn’t want that anyway!), but she does talk about how she creates the covers, and provides clues to those of us (who me?) who are trying to figure out what they might mean.

Potter artist Mary GrandPre makes magic” by Janis Campbell, from the Detroit Free Press, dated June 5, 2007

This article is mostly autobiographical and doesn’t really discuss her artwork. However, she does say something interesting about the details she works into her paintings:

And speaking of the final cover, does she get a kick out of all the excitement created by the early release of the cover? “I think it’s fun to see the reaction from people. The fans that are really diehard fans look very closely at the artwork,” Mary says.And they should. “I try to make everything have a meaning. … There is a reason why something is in the illustration. I don’t just put it in because it looks better. It really does have to have a meaning or part of the story has to support it.”

Harry Potter illustrator says goodbye” by Molly Millett, from the Pioneer Press, dated June 7, 2007

This is an interesting one if you are curious about her technique and how the design of the images has changed over the years. Do you have a veil=curtains theory? Read what she says (snippet below) about the curtains on Book 1 and 7! I’m not sure she has closed those ideas down — she doesn’t say it isn’t *also* the veil. Indeed, if it is solely for compositional/symbolic reasons, it would seem to contradict her statement in the earlier article.

When asked to specifically critique her work, GrandPre says: “The first couple, three covers, definitely, they were smaller figures; it was more about a big scene happening in the book. And then we started to close in on Harry and started to deal more with mood or atmosphere. For the last one, I took the curtains from the first cover and put them on the last one. I brought back some of the jeweled tones but kept the more strongly rendered Harry.”

What do you think?


Pensieve (Comments)

  • Naazju

    I really appreciate that Mary GrandPre puts so much time and effort into her covers. It’s something I’ve always loved about the Harry Potter books; the artist actually reads the manuscripts and then bases her illustrations on what she has read. It just makes me want the next 39 days to go by faster so I can finally link everything on the cover to the story!

  • Bandersnatch

    If the curtains on Book 7’s cover are just symbolic (closing the series, the way that the curtains on Book 1’s cover opened it), that doesn’t contradict GrandPre’s statement that “I try to make everything have a meaning.” That symbolism IS meaning. It’s an either/or thing: “It really does have to have a meaning or part of the story has to support it” (emphasis mine).

  • John

    I totally agree! I think that the veil theory that she mentions will be circulating in a few days. Mary Granpre is an excellent artist!

  • Remi

    I read her interview (congrats to her for becoming a new mom!) and agree with Bandersnatch that it doesn’t mean that the curtains/veil aren’t importanat. GrandPre admits the cover in the later books are about big scenes in the book, and deals more with mood and atmosphere. So taking the curtains from book 1 – but making them tattered and worn – must (IMHO) be consistent with creating the mood/atmosphere of the book. GrandPre says she wanted to make the last book special without it being a giant spoiler, and I think she was amazingly successful in doing just that — thank you, Mary, for giving us so much to discuss!

  • chris

    I find it interesting that Voldemort and Harry are not facing each other on the cover. It’s like they are both concentrated on something else.

  • Bandersnatch

    Yep. They’re both fixated on the dragon. Extra-crispy deep-fried Riddle, anyone? 🙂

  • Cricket

    Well, in the first book, I would think the curtains were symbolic of covering the wizarding world…and Harry has been told he is a wizard. Talk about
    the curtains falling off one’s eyes!

    The veil in the Department of Mysteries sounds suspiciously like the one in the temple in the New Testament.
    Also, a necromancer is one who can talk to the dead. The people who work at the DOM are ‘unspeakables.’ Does that mean their powers are not to be discussed, or their work or them?

    But curtains are also used in theatres, to open up the stage for a story or play, and are closed when the story is told.

    That’s just me.

  • Zam

    Wow, these theories on the meaning of the curtain, but i dont think that it can be the veil because it was described as a single piece of dark (it was dark, black maybe, wasnt it?) cloth hanging from an archway and this curtain just isnt. It is more like a curtain in a play, opening or closing, so basically, i agree with Cricket!

  • chris

    I think the curtains symbolise in the beginning, the beginning of Harry’s life. The curtains in the last book symbolise the ending of Harry’s life.

  • John

    I both agree and disagree with you chris, I think that the curtains do not symbolize the end of Harry’s life, but, the closing of the story, similar to the curtains going down at the end of a play. I think that Harry isn’t going to die, but, there is a very good chance that he will.

  • chris

    Hey John 🙂 I’m not so much thinking that he will die persay, but that he’ll have a Frodo type ending, such as going through the curtain at the ministry of magic.

  • Marina

    oh gosh, I got goose bumps after reading Mary’s statement and these theories…

  • Cricket

    Does Mary have to have a final approval for her artwork from either Scholastic or Ms. Rowling?

  • Cricket

    I remember reading somewhere that Jo (hope she doesn’t mind the familiarity!) had read ‘Little Women.’
    I don’t know if she had read the entire series, but the final book, ‘Jo’s Boys’ ends with these words:
    “Let the music stop, the lights die down and the curtains fall forever on the March family.”

    And maybe it isn’t that Harry will die, but that we have been privileged to see this world through Jo’s eyes, and the curtains signify the ending of the series, not Harry’s life.

    Your mileage may vary…