Jim Kay is a British illustrator know for his illustrations for A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, and the pop-up book, Bugs with George McGavin, and lately — in particular — for his work on the new Illustrated Editions of the Harry Potter series.
The first in that series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: The Illustrated Edition is due to be released in the U.S. on October 6, but pre-release previews are already bringing Kay well-deserved attention.
His take on the stories is unique and different — no mean feat for a series with a visual look already firmly entrenched in popular culture by the wildly successful movies. His approach, however, has a visual charm and quirky character that make me wish the movies were animated in that style rather than live action.
Kay’s other work is similarly idiosyncratic, with lots of attention to mood and texture.
Unfortunately, his website gallery is a bit more limited than one might like, and his website is hampered by a terrible navigation system — in which everything must be accessed by a drop-down menu hidden under an uninformative “home” link that doesn’t even look like a menu (sigh).
However, once you find your way to them, his site does provide some large images (there is a separate Harry Potter section), as well as a brief description of his process. Kay works in ink (much of it “thrown or blown on”), watercolor, pencil and monoprints, as well as collage and some compositing in Photoshop. He does a lot of preliminary and alternate versions, and says that less than 15% of his working output makes it to the final book.
You can find additional previews of the Harry Potter Illustrations on io9, Tor.com and Scholastic.