Jim Kay, the award-winning illustrator of J.K Rowling’s acclaimed Harry Potter Illustrated Editions, has announced that he will be stepping down after the publication of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix to focus on his mental health. After nearly ten years of extraordinary commitment and five spellbinding books, Jim is ready to pass the illustration baton on to future creative collaborators.
To celebrate Jim’s work, here are some key pieces across the first five Harry Potter series that wowed us, and quite frankly, made us feel rather jealous we can only draw stick-men. Take a look.
From the bouncy hair to the determined expression on her face as she casts one of her clever charms, Jim Kay introduces us to Hermione perfectly in the first Illustrated Edition. The way the illustration is lit up by Hermione’s spell against the rustic wooden panels gives us an insight into her brilliance straight away.
The scene of Harry observing his lost family in the mysterious Mirror of Erised is perhaps one of the most bittersweet moments in the entire series, and Jim’s depiction of the light and darkness of this moment is encapsulated beautifully here.
The grand, imposing castle of Hogwarts has been visually interpreted many times over the years, but this tranquil sketch of the grand wizarding school's turrets capture Hogwarts in a quiet moment.
Jim uses every colour of the rainbow to create this psychedelic explosion as Harry finds himself embroiled in the memories of Tom Riddle. This image is so striking and colourful – but Harry is about to discover some dark secrets on the other side.
Hagrid’s beloved Hippogriff Buckbeak won our hearts in the third Harry Potter instalment, and all it took was a majestic bow. Here, Buckbeak looks practically zen – and we love the way this grand, magical creature has been drawn in a moment of comfort.
Us Muggles love to complain about public transport – but we have absolutely no qualms about the magnificent, triple-decker Knight Bus, as introduced to us in the third Harry Potter story. From the details of the advertisements to the illuminated lights, this image cleverly contains the chaos of this big, purple behemoth, and Harry’s pure astonishment, having hailed it down!
Ron Weasley’s home, The Burrow, introduced Harry to the true turbulent ways of a magical family – for this humble ramshackle house was full to the brim with spellbinding wonders. In this picture, embrace the orangeness of Ron’s bedroom, where he celebrates his Quidditch team, the Chudley Cannons alongside all manner of other trinkets.
The graceful flight of the Beauxbatons carriage arriving to Hogwarts for the Triwizard Tournament gave us a glimpse into other wizarding schools – and in this illustration, we see Madam Maxime’s magnificent carriage making quite the entrance, pulled by Abraxan: flying horses.
Of course, these illustrations are merely a few of so many that grace the pages of the five illustrated editions Jim worked on, a project Jim called ‘brilliant and all-consuming’.
‘When I received a phone call back in 2013 with an offer of an illustration job, I could never have anticipated the impact it would have upon my life,’ Jim said. ‘I am extremely lucky to have been involved in a franchise that has meant so much to so many people across the world. After ten years of working with Bloomsbury, it is with great sadness that I have to step down from illustrating Harry Potter.
I have been struggling with mental health illness for some time, and it would be wrong to try and continue when I can no longer give the fans and the series the full commitment and energy it deserves. What comforts me is the knowledge that Bloomsbury will continue working with and supporting other artists to make the remaining books both beautiful and inspiring for new generations of young readers.’
‘I would never have travelled this far through Harry's journey without the constant support and patience of Bloomsbury and J.K. Rowling, I must thank them both for giving me ten years of happy scribbling, and for the opportunity of meeting so many Potter fans from all walks of life. We've all found inspiration between the pages of Jo’s books; for myself, it's that intangible moment between reading words and creating pictures that I enjoyed, and shall miss, so much.’
Well said, Jim. We look forward to seeing the work of whoever is next to take on the wizarding world!
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Jim Kay’s next Illustrated Edition, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, will be published worldwide on 11th October 2022.
This new full-colour gift book sees the Kate Greenaway medal winner being joined by guest artist Neil Packer, winner of the BolognaRagazzi Award 2021. Harry Potter’s fifth year at Hogwarts is a must-have visual feast featuring magical locations, iconic story moments and favourite characters, including Tonks, Luna Lovegood and more.