Knowing the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter’s publication in Slovakia was fast approaching, IKAR publishing house knew they wanted to do something special to mark the occasion.
They approached revered illustrator and graphic designer Adrián Macho, who they describe as a ‘die-hard’ Harry Potter fan. Welcome Adrián, you are amongst friends!
Adrián worked with editor Alena Hošková for the best part of a year on all aspects of the artwork and these amazing covers are testament to how that work has paid off. The publishers say they believe their editions ‘will be some of the most beautiful ones in the world’ and we’re not about to argue with them.
From the beginning of working on these covers, Adrián says he wanted ‘to build the whole concept on the play of light and colourful moods. I was inspired by twilights and sunsets. It is that time when day meets night, the time between being awake and of dreaming.’
We can see this immediately in the dusk-like quality of the cover of the first book, Philosopher’s Stone (Kameň mudrcov), which depicts a large-eyed Harry fixing his gaze on the elusive Snitch during a game of Quidditch – against the backdrop of Hogwarts castle surrounded by empurpled clouds.
Have a look at the concept sketch for Harry’s purple and vermilion uniform...
Hogwarts was inspired by the castles and chateaux of Slovakia itself: ‘I found it fun to connect the world of fantasy with the real places which we all know so well,’ says Adrián.
The flying Ford Anglia of the second book is familiar, but the depiction of Hagrid’s hut on the cover of Prisoner of Azkaban (Väzeň z Azkabanu) is a great example of how Adrián sought to put aside previous representations and brought his own perspective to what he (perhaps surprisingly) describes as his ‘dream house’: ‘I knew Hagrid likes these strange, kitsch and ostentatious items, so I thought he’d probably enjoy a chimney top in the shape of a wizard’s hat, or have bird houses hidden in the straw roof. The straw roof itself gives the cottage the look of a cake.’
Speaking of birds, Adrián left Slovakia’s capital city, Bratislava, during the project and moved to the countryside for more peace and space to work in. He discovered that the house had a garden containing trees on the branches of which nearly ten different owls slept during the day. There was even a barn owl – you may remember that Augusta Longbottom liked to communicate with her grandson Neville via a barn owl in the stories.
These made their way directly into Adrián’s artistic process: ‘I made my own pens from the owl feathers which I found under the trees, and sketched drawings and made notes with them.’
Inspired by Victorian fonts, Adrián drew the Harry Potter logo and book titles by hand. He didn’t want to get the proportions exactly right: ‘I think the imperfections make it look more authentic and playful, yet at the same time harmoniously ties together all the illustrations on the covers.’
Owls are also intrinsic to Adrián’s wonderful wraparound box-set design, with the Hogwarts Express seeming to zoom across the packaging itself into an orange sunset. Inside, Harry and friends look out of the window at a tawny owl making progress against the slipstream of the train. On the topside of the box, a barn owl flies with a prized Hogwarts letter in its beak.
You can see the covers that make up the rest of the series below – with famous scenes featuring Harry, including the Triwizard Tournament, Department of Mysteries, Horcrux cave and a scorching encounter with Fiendfyre.
The Slovak Harry Potter 20th-anniversary box set is available from IKAR Publishing now.