Luna Lovegood is a B-side Harry Potter character, first appearing in J.K. Rowling's fifth novel in the series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, but to artist Dayana Ramirez, Luna represents whimsy and joy at Hogwarts, two themes often downplayed in Potter fanfiction and art.
Luna walks into Harry's life during the period in which he's beginning to "crack," as Rowling has said. When a teenaged, frustrated Harry spots her on the Hogwarts Express, he notices "an aura of distinct dottiness" around her, and Rowling's narrator points out that she's got her wand wedged behind her ear, is wearing Butterbeer-cap earrings and is "reading a magazine upside down."
Of course, we later learn that Luna has been touched by childhood trauma the same way Harry has — she can see the mythical Thestrals as Harry can because she's seen death — but Ramirez doesn't feel hung up on that detail. "I just find her to be the most joyful character in the series," she told SYFY WIRE, pointing to her Lovegood family portrait illustration, "and I assume that her family would match her." (They do, by the way, as evidenced by the way the Lovegoods dance together at Bill and Fleur's wedding in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 1).
Ramirez isn't just unusual because her Harry Potter fan art is bright and light-hearted. She's also a relatively recent convert to Rowling's stories, and she saw all the Warner Bros. movies before cracking open one of the books. "I was already an adult when the books were being published," she says, "so I was a bit more grown-up than their target audience. After I loved the movies, I went back and read the books."
Perhaps that's why she feels drawn to the stories' lighter moments; when you analyze Harry Potter's entire arc from a distance, it's a pretty straight-forward story of good defeating evil, with magic candy and creatures thrown in as seasoning. For fans who dutifully read every novel as they were published, many of them clocking in at the same age as Harry each year, their memories of the series might be more bogged down in the grittier storylines about elf enslavement and the Black family tree.
"I guess I don't see it as dark as other artists have," Ramirez says. "I see it ultimately as a happy, magical place, although the series obviously deals with death. There's always light there, and good does eventually prevail."
Overall, though, Ramirez says she was shocked at the positive community she found when she shared her Harry Potter art online.
"I get a lot of feedback from other illustrators, actually. I jumped in on a Harry Potter fan art challenge I saw on Instagram," she says, "which was a week of original HP art to celebrate Harry's birthday, and I started talking to creators from there."
The world of Potter-inspired fan art is so huge that Ramirez says she can experiment with formats and give herself flexibility, though she tends to illustrate using her iPad. "I'm not doing it by hand, but the technology really allows you to create stuff that looks classically made," she explains. "Plus, I don't necessarily have space for all the materials I'd need, after having a baby, so keeping it all on an iPad saves room."
As for her other art, Ramirez says she tends to stick to positive imagery involving magic, including illustrating classic fairy tales.
She creates art for herself in order to feel connected to her education in fine art and visual rhetoric, because later study and professional opportunities pushed her into graphic design, retail marketing, and commercial work. When asked if she'd give up her day job to plunge full-time into children's illustration, Ramirez says she isn't sure. There's a magic to creating without having to please a client, she explains. "This way my illustrations are just for me."