During my initial research into the mythologies of owls, I had previously planned to use a version of the owl that I once heard about from Mexico, where they were representatives of the goddess of death within their country. However, after trying to do some research into the origins and stories of these death owls, I found that there was simply not enough to pick apart due to the focus of information being placed on the goddess herself, with the owls being more of background details with little to no stories about them.
Because of this, I decided that I had no choice but to move onto another more fulfilling owl within mythology that had more for me to explore. After looking at images and wiki pages about owls in myths, I noticed a recurring image of an owl, clearly Greek in origin. After following that image back to a source, I discovered that this owl was a depiction of the “Owl of Athena”.
When researching into the origins of the owl of Athena, I found out that it is possibly one of the most influential symbols of an animal in all recorded history, with its meaning reaching even to media today.
Athena is widely known within the Greek mythology to be the goddess of crafts, war and wisdom, earning herself the title of patron of Athens. In many depictions of Athena, she was well known for possessing two things on her person: a helmet depicting her role as a war goddess, and an owl representing her great knowledge among the gods and humans. Due to the owls affiliation to Athena, it has often since been considered her symbol, and as such become one of the most recognized symbols of wisdom, knowledge and even education at times.
Another thing I have noticed about the usual depiction of the owls of Athena is the use a symbol of three Greek characters “AOE” or “AQE”, which after some research I discovered fittingly meant “Truth, Honor, Forever”. I may very likely use this symbol within the final design in order to strengthen the representation of the owl’s Greek origin.
I am very thankful that I was able to locate this new owl as I find that not only is the representation of the owl as a knowledge symbol more iconic and thus recognizable to more people, but also due to there being a bit more to pick upon compared to my previous effort of research. This will be the type of owl I will use within my final piece.
After having a bit of a conversation with one of my tutors, I have realised that today I should start focusing on how I will actually be laying out my spreads, as knowing how the pages and type will be positioned will allow me to understand how to pose my animals when designing them.
Bellow are the current ideas I have for the two possible layouts for the the spreads.
For this version of the layout, I planned to have both pages of the spread to be made with a tea stained background. In the centre of each page will be a rectangular box which will have the illustration on one page, and the type placed within the other. Using this layout will make the designs feel more tidy and contained. It also the process of creation far less time consuming and will give me a clear idea of how big I should make each illustration. The problem with this layout however is that I would have to use larger paper to ensure that the illustrations themselves are big enough to me identifiable, as making them too small will make them too hard to see clearly. The paper that this layout would be printed on would have to be around A4.
This layout design was made to be more open and free flowing compared to the previous. The background is again made out of tea stained paper, but this time the illustration covers the majority of the spread, coming from one page onto the other. This process is far more complicated than the previous and would likely require me to learn a few new photoshop skills to accomplish. However, this design makes the illustration (the main aspect of the spreads) more involving with the layout and could lead to some very interesting effects on the page. This layout could be done on either A3 (idea for cost effectiveness) or A4.
Having looked at both layouts, I believe that I will use the second version of the layout as it seems to have much more potential than the compressed layout which minimises the illustration I will be working on.
Today I have been working a new selection of sketches around my design ideas for the Big Bad Wolf, which shall be my second spread pages. Below are the
Before I go any further into the project, I believe that it is important right now to think about the intended target audience and client of my self made project, before I miss the opportunity to discuss the point of my designs or fall flat on my face when the ideas I have do not support themselves for a real life audience to see.
From the start of the project, my main target audience with these illustrations is people who enjoy the tales of mythology. For people, like myself, who love the mystical tales of dragons, monsters and spirits which were (and still are) believed to wonder our world so many years ago. However, I also want to push forward and tell people about the creatures of not just our cultures, but other ones as well, as I want to also teach my fellow mythology fans about stories taking place across the globe, as I find many of those stories to be just as, if not even more interesting than the legends that we made over in England. Notable cultures I wish to possibly include are European, Japanese, Mexican, Norse, Aztecan and Egyptian mythologies. There are so many different mythologies around the world that possibly including such a diverse amount of stories my attract fans of foreign folktales as well as local ones, allowing them to learn about our own as we learn from theirs.
The second half of my ideas are aimed towards animal fans, which should be pretty plentiful due to the amount of pet owners sound the world. While it would be interesting just to write about mythology in general, I feel that having a more focused audience by using animals as the main topic will attract more attention towards the actual mythology, as well as serve to simplify the overall size of the book so that people who are not normally interested/knowledgeable in the stories of mythology can easily get into it and understand.
The main idea I have in terms of a client would likely be somewhere similar to the client we would of had during the Conspiracy Theory project in which we worked for a museum holding a conspiracy themed exhibition which are our books were made to promote. In this case, my designs would be given to either a museum who has an exhibition or event based around mythology and folklore, or an educational company/group who wish to produce a book for children/young adults to expose them to new and interesting folklore, myths and legends across the globe.
With my research on Kitsune ideas still underway, I believe that I should start getting straight into researching my second animal within mythology: wolves. Like foxes, wolves are another one of my favourite animals, and thus I feel a bit more of a personal connection to them compared to other ideas. Plus, wolves are a massively popular animal within dozens of folktales and mythologies, many of which are still widely known and still read today.
Wolves have always been well known for their predator/hunter status across every culture they existed within, which often led to them being fairly hated out of fear of people and their farm animals losing their lives. One of the most famous stories featuring said depictions of the wolf was the classical European story of “Little Red Riding Hood”, the story of a little girl in a red hood and her dangerous encounter with the “Big Bad Wolf”.
The story itself originated somewhere with the 10th century, either within Europe and Italy. The story itself has had over a dozen variations of the original with elements and characters added or changed with each new edition. The most famous version of the story were written by Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm. The typical storyline however goes as follows:
Litte Red Riding Hood (or just Red Riding Hood) is asked by her mother to bring a basket of treats (bread/cake/wine) to her ill grandmother. During her journey she is secretly stalked by the Big Bad Wolf, who wants to eat both her and the basket of treats. After approaching Red Riding Hood she naively tells him that she is visiting her grandmother and thus he tricks her into picking some flowers while he visits her instead. After either swallowing the grandmother whole or locking in a cupboard (depending on the story) he disguises himself as her and waits for Red Riding Hood to arrive. After finally reaching the house, Red Riding Hood begins to note her “grandmother’s” very large features before noting her very large mouth, at which point the wolf reveals himself.
Depending of the variation of the story you are reading, there are 3 operate ending which could take place. In Charles Perrault’s version of the story the wolf eats Red Riding Hood and falls asleep before the story ends. In the French and Brothers Grimm versions of stories however, Red Riding Hood and her grandmother are saved by a nearby woodcutter/hunter, who slices open the wolf’s stomach and free the two (or he simply steps in before the wolf eats Red Riding Hood and frees the grandmother from the belly/cupboard).
Being possibly one of the most iconic storybook fables of european history, it feels almost right to use a piece of folklore like this for my final piece. I honestly originally forgot that the story of Little Red Riding Hood was even folklore, as I grown up so used to the idea that it was just a storybook fairy tale read to children. It was only until I talked to someone about the project that I was reminded about how many modern stories were originated/inspired by classical folktales used to entertain/educate/frighten young children from doing misdeeds.
Not only will the story of Little Red Riding Hood be a fitting edition to my current illustration ideas, but it will possibly be (one of) the most recognisable of them all, as practically everyone knows the story within this county and the visuals of a large menacing wolf and red hooded girl will immediately be understood by anyone who has ever been read the story as a child (or any other point in their life).