Featured in the July 2020 issue of The Rowling Library Magazine.

The Draw Who Lived

897 words.

Pol Peiró knew he was skilled since he was a kid. “I drew the characters from memory from the films I liked”, he recalls. He is one of the many fans who arrived in the Wizarding World through the films and then dived into the books. “It was in 2002 when I did my first illustration of the Harry Potter series”, he says, “and I added the character’s names in Catalan because that’s the version of the books I read.”

Rubeus Hagrid by Pol Peiró

In 2009 he started art school in the afternoons, after school, but he didn’t like doing landscapes and regular stuff – he wanted something else. That’s how he proposed to his art teacher to do portraits of the Harry Potter characters. And after getting some practice by drawing Albus Dumbledore, Draco Malfoy, Severus Snape, and many more, he discovered he really enjoyed creating art. When his teacher told him it was time to move into painting landscapes, he started with another piece from the Wizarding World: Hagrid’s Hut.

When finishing high school, Pol decided to study art in a more serious way, so he got his Art Degree at the University of Barcelona. Harry Potter stopped being the main theme of his works, but it was the initial spark that allowed him to become a professional painter. He sold some artworks, held a few exhibitions and he even had the chance to open his own shop to teach art to more people. As a tribute to the series that changed his life, he called it l’Andana (The Platform in English). “I learnt to draw and paint thanks to the Harry Potter books, and like Platform Nine and Three Quarters, I wanted my space to be a door into a world where people could enjoy art and free themselves from their daily problems”.

But although Peiró became a professional painter (with astonishing paintings centered around topics such as loneliness, seasons and roots), he knew he was going back to Harry Potter. And that’s how The Draw Who Lived was born.

Supernova - Pol Peiró's Exhibition
Supernova – Pol Peiró’s Exhibition

In 2019, to promote The Crimes of Grindelwald, Warner Bros. asked fans from around the world to illustrate some pieces. Pol Peiró did some artwork that was shared on the official accounts to promote the movie, and he noticed how much he enjoyed going back to work with the Harry Potter World. “In 2019 it was the 10 year anniversary since I started to paint, so I thought it was a good idea to revisit these characters applying everything I’ve learnt. So that’s how I opened my Instagram account for The Draw Who Lived and I uploaded a new drawing every day.”

Pol wanted to do something different from other accounts that create fan art, so he decided he was going to create a portrait from every character in the series, even the secondary ones, or the ones that appear in the background for just a fraction of a second. He started with the main ones, like Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, or even Bellatrix Lestrange. But slowly he started to illustrate minor or unnoticed characters, such as the black student in the third year who is just in the background, or the professor who is killed in the film version of the Battle of Hogwarts and is discovered by Trelawney and Padma Patil. He wanted to pay tribute to all the characters, even the peripheral ones. But his take did not end there: he wanted to have these profile illustrations also signed by these actors. And he often gets them! He sends them two copies of the paintings: one for the actor to keep, and one for the actor to sign and send it back to Pol. “The excitement of seeing a new signature in the mail is something I cannot describe”.

Pol Peiró’s Albus Dumbledore, signed by Michael Gambon

Of course, J.K. Rowling was also part of this project, and Pol reached out to her via social media. First, it was with a full colour illustration of Rubeus Hagrid, one of Rowling’s favourite characters. Pol shared it on Twitter on May 1st, and the British author re-shared with all her readers saying it was an amazing illustration. The next day, on the Hogwarts Battle Anniversary, Pol tried again and sent to J.K. Rowling a collage with a variety of the portraits he made for his project. She shared it again, this time saying they were extraordinary.

The technique Pol uses has to be quick, because he does one illustration per day, and some days he has not all the time in the world. “I use a regular pencil to do the base drawing, and then I add shadows and depth with a watercolor pencil. Using a brush, I spread the ink to give more volume and contrast to the drawing. The final result is subtle but elegant: something I pursue with these works”.

Getting a response from Jo was one of the dreams Pol Peiró had with his projects, but he says: “However, as it usually happens when you achieve a dream or a goal, another one appears, so… hopefully the next step would be to get her to sign me one of my drawings!”

Follow Pol Peiró on @thedrawholived


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