24 March 2010 // Filed under commando group
This is the story of how an idea went from Jane Austen to Little Bo-Peep and back again, and how almost everything got lost in the process.
The theme for the gardening column in D2 was titled “Hyrdelandskap” or “Shepherd’s landscape”. I though it’d be quite nice to use the title quite literally, and did some sketches of victorian girls with bonnets and shepherd’s staffs in pastoral landscapes. Infused with a twist of goth sensibility I thought it would make for an interesting illustration.
An interesting reference is the Lolita fashion style, which has an immense following in Japan. It has nothing to do with Nabokov’s Lolita, but refers rather to Victorian clothing, and porcelain dolls in particular. This makes the wearer look like an upscaled puppet, as all details seems kind of oversized.
During the research however, I ran into Little Bo-Peep from the nursery rhyme. I was struck by the naive earnestness of the illustrations from the children’s books, and decided to do a fully fledged, oatmeal eating, milk drinking shepherdess.
I was doing the last touches on the illustration, when I realized that I in a haze of jolly stupor had eradicated everything remotely interesting in the original idea. It seemed as if the whole thing had traveled across the Atlantic and crashed in a barn in the Midwest, and what was worse: I hadn’t seen it coming! I had to scrap everything and start all over again.
Below: The inspiration from the Bo-Peep charachter in Toy Story is apparent, but is not translated to anything useful OR intersting. The illustration isn’t going anywhere. To the right: The evil face of despair.
Fast rewind to Bleak House and Pride and Prejudice. Panic was imminent as the deadline crawled closer. What I needed was some real british gloom, and I felt that heavy rain and dark clouds would put the illustration back on track again. Hoping it was possible to get into a state of “method illustration”, I put Wuthering heights by Kate Bush on repeat, cranked the volume to eleven, and proceeded to draw some new sketches. For the rainy weather I looked at Japanese woodblock prints for inspiration.
I selected (what I thought was) the best composition for the final illustration (above right, second from the top). All the main elements were done separately, and I tried to piece the whole thing together as best as I could in Photoshop.
The illustration ended up as mumbo jumbo of lost and found ideas, failing to reach its potential. I cannot truly say I like the final result, but I have nevertheless kept it in the portfolio. As an illustration it is rather contrived and weak – yet I think it has something to it. To sum it up: In a herd of bright ideas, the black ones stand out. End of story.
To see the final illustration, click here.
2010-03-24 :: bjorn