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Books » Interview with Mary Grandpré
Originally published April 26, 2002 by Scott

This afternoon I was fortunate enough to be able to conduct a phone interview with Mary Grandpré. She designed the cover for the American Harry Potter covers, and did the interior illustrations as well. I have to note that the replies given are not her exact words as I did not tape the conversation and couldn't write down everything word for word. I approximated them as best I could and have not intentionally misrepresented anything she's said.

Scott: How long have you been drawing?
Mary Grandpré: Since the age of five.

S: When did you decide to make a profession of drawing?
MG: While attending the Minneapolis School of Art and Design. I had started with fine arts, and had to take design courses as a part of that. It was then that I did mainly design.

S: Other influential Minnesota artisans include Bob Dylan, Prince, the Cohen brothers, and Judy Garland. Do you feel you should be included in this group?
MG: No, since they created their art and I just took what was given me.

S: Are you a native Minnesotan?
MG: Not by birth. I was born in South Dakota, but moved to Minnesota when I was two.

S: Do you have a favorite artist?
MG: Yes, Marc Chagall

S: What other well known projects have you been involved with?
MG: I did landscape designs on the movie "Antz" for Dreamworks, and helped with Character Development for the movie "Ice Age". That's about it that most people would know.

S: How did you obtain the job as cover artist for the HP series?
MG: Scholastic looked at some of my work with other children's stories, and asked my agent if I would do the cover. At the time we didn't know there would be more than one book or how big (popular) it would get.

S: I've heard Ms. Rowling likes your covers best, have you heard from her personally?
MG: Yes, she told me at a dinner in Chicago.

S: On average, how long does it take for you to design a book cover?
MG: 2 weeks for notes taken from the book, 2 weeks for preliminary sketches, 1 week to revise the cover, 2 weeks for the final cover, So about two months start to finish.

S: Do you have any alternate covers for the first four Harry Potter books that just didn't work out?
MG: For Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, I submitted a couple of different options and they chose the one you see. The rest I really didn't have any time for multiple ideas.

S: Could you tell me the status for the cover of Book Five?
MG: No, because I haven't seen the book yet, and once it's started I legally cannot give out information about it.

S: How far in advance do you have to submit your covers to the publishers?
MG: I don't get any advanced time. It's a rushed process since they already have the book and are waiting for me to do the covers and interior illustrations.

S: How does it feel to know that you've helped so many readers visualize such a vastly popular character?
MG: It's pretty cool. It's great to see kids being able to relate and show interest in reading and also the drawing.

S: Of the Harry Potter covers you've designed, which is your personal favorite and why?
MG: The first one, since that's where we enter his world and find out about him.

S: Are you a fan of the Harry Potter series?
MG: Yeah, and not just because I'm involved, either ;o)

S: Have you ever visited Harry Potter fan sites?
MG: I used to, but not so much anymore. I have an agent that keeps track of that part and lets me know what's going on.

S: Do you have any favorite books? MG: As a kid it was Nancy Drew, but I also like the author, Anne Tyler.

S: Has your involvement with the [Harry Potter] series created additional job opportunities?
MG: Yeah, I guess. More publishers are interested in my work since I started the Harry Potter books.

S: According to your website, you're working on your own children's stories. How are those going?
MG: The stories are going good. My husband and I are working with Dile Books as a publisher.

Again, thanks to Mary Grandpré for your time and willingness to answer some of our questions.

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