Webb & Webb works its magic on Harry Potter books

Webb & Webb Design has created a new look for the Harry Potter ‘signature’ series of books, which will launch in November.

The consultancy has been working on the top-secret project since December 2008 after it was approached by publisher Bloomsbury.

Webb & Webb Design founder Brian Webb says, ‘Bloomsbury wanted someone who was reliable. We knew that we’d be working with illustrators, and the publisher didn’t want problems it had encountered previously in terms of secrecy and the selling of artwork.’

Bloomsbury briefed Webb & Webb Design to completely reinvent Harry Potter and move away from imagery inspired by the film adaptations, says Webb.

The redesign coincides with the tenth anniversary of the first book’s publication and adopts a timeless look, says Webb. He says, ‘The books are now classic children’s books and we wanted to treat them in that way.’

Webb & Webb Design began the design process by experimenting with several visual approaches and two or three illustrators, before choosing linocut artist Clare Melinsky to produce artwork for the covers, back pages and spines.

Webb says, ‘We wanted to make the covers simpler and use a wood engraving or linocut. We didn’t want an airbrushed Harry Potter.’

Large print volumes put limitations on the design in terms of printing finishes, such as embossing and foil, that would slow down the process, explains Webb. The finished design has been illustrated on textured paper with the use of foil and a colour-coded edge.

The books are intended to appeal to a new generation of readers, who will not necessarily read the books in chronological order, says Webb. The books have therefore been designed to work as standalone editions.

He adds, ‘These books appear in a different situation to the first. Now the book’s got a life of it’s own. Everyone has [their own] image of what Harry Potter looks like. The fans know everything.’

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