Fan­tas­tiC Beasts

New Fan­tas­tic Beasts And Where To Find Them il­lus­tra­tor Olivia Lomenech Gill on bring­ing JK Rowl­ing’s menagerie to life

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Your il­lus­trated guide to the bes­tiary in­side JK Rowl­ing’s head.


“This one’s quite poignant in the book be­cause it’s the orig­i­nal golden snitch. I sort of based it on the Kiwi as that’s the only bird I could find that was rel­a­tively round. I’m not quite sure how it flies in re­al­ity be­cause it has spher­i­cal wing move­ments... I de­picted a tapestry in the back­ground, which is men­tioned in the Rules Of Quid­ditch. It’s all about the dif­fer­ent ways of trap­ping them or hunt­ing them. I drew on Mughal art, which was fun to do.”


“This book is very dif­fer­ent as it’s not part of the Harry Pot­ter sto­ry­books. It’s a text­book. That’s what I was re­ally ex­cited about. I vis­ited the Nat­u­ral His­tory Mu­seum read­ing room, where I was able to look at the orig­i­nal bes­tiaries, the His­to­ria An­i­mal­ium by Con­rad Gess­ner. What was amaz­ing about them, these first in­ven­to­ries of nat­u­ral his­tory, was that they were a com­plete fu­sion be­tween the real and the to­tally mad. I am so rooted in re­al­ity; I’m un­able to make things up, but for me it’s about mak­ing the or­di­nary ex­tra­or­di­nary. Con­fu­cius said: “The wise man mar­vels at the com­mon­place.” I had that writ­ten in my sketch­book while work­ing on this project.”


“I did this as an etch­ing plate, which is some­thing I spe­cialise in. All of the black and inky tex­tures, that’s done with a cop­per plate. I also made a model for it, so I have a wax and wire model sit­ting next to the dragons on my shelf. I looked at spi­ders and wolf spi­ders, but this one’s prob­a­bly a bit Sh­elob, too – there’s only so many ways you can draw eight legs and a big round body! I love spi­ders be­cause they keep my house clean! They’re very good moth­ers, too, ap­par­ently.”


“My hus­band’s French and we speak some French in the fam­ily. If you say “hip­pocampe”, that’s the French for “sea­horse”. The de­scrip­tion in the book is very spe­cific – it’s got a horse’s head and a fish tail; that’s all it says! So it’s not re­fer­ring to a real sea­horse, which is why I chose the fu­sion of the horse’s head with the fish tail. I looked at real sea­horses, too. They are mag­i­cal crea­tures in them­selves and once you start look­ing, you dis­cover there are many more vari­a­tions than any­one who’s not a ma­rine bi­ol­o­gist thinks there are. I found some with these in­cred­i­ble vivid colours.”


“This is one of my favourite dragons. There are 10 in the book, which is quite a lot! This dragon is prob­a­bly a lit­tle bit of a rein­car­na­tion of Smaug, in my mind. I didn’t pur­pose­fully do that, but Tolkien’s own il­lus­tra­tions of The Lord Of The Rings were al­ways my favourite. This one I cre­ated with pen and In­dian ink, and a wa­ter­colour wash. They’re the Cuillin moun­tains in Skye. I was in­flu­enced by one of the is­lands, so the dragon is meant to be part of the is­land, cam­ou­flaged. So next time you go sail­ing around Scot­land, you could find a dragon sleep­ing there...”

Fan­tas­tic Beasts And Where To Find Them: Il­lus­trated Edi­tion is pub­lished 11 Novem­ber. Visit www.olivi­ag­

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