Back To The Beginning…

I’m finding reflecting particularly useful at the moment, one comment I made in the earlier blog post about looking at the reasons I chose the subject in the first place is something I’ve decided to write about a bit further. 

I’d like to avoid this post becoming too personal, but I feel a bit of personal insight into why I chose the subject would help me to develop it and help the viewer understand it.

I’ve always had an interest in the animal world, but ever since I was young, expressing my ‘favourites’ or drawing certain beasts would get negative responses. Not because they didn’t like the drawings or because they didn’t like animals, but because they thought the creature in question was’t cute. My ‘favourite’ animal, so to speak, is the crocodile. I find them incredibly interesting; the fact that they are essentially living dinosaurs, the way they live and the way they function is fascinating. A couple of years ago, I went through the initial stages of merchandise design for The Madras Crocodile Bank Trust (India) and found out through this work that the Gharial crocodile (below) is critically endangered – less than 200 remain – and yet I’d never heard of it. It then dawned on me the severity of the problem behind the unbalanced nature of wildlife conservation based on the appearance of the animal alone.

Gharial Crocodile

chinese-giant-salamander-i-3502

From then on, I’d noticed it more and more, even in institutions that do some incredibly good work for conservation and animals do it. WWF (World Wildlife Fund) puts so much public focus on pandas, snow leopards and sea turtles, I’ve yet to see any campaigns for insects or amphibians. Understandably, they aren’t as popular in the public domain but just ignoring the problem won’t change this, ormake it better.

The reason I’m choosing this subject for BA7 & BA8 is that I want to be able to illustrate this issue in a way that will appeal to the people who don’t like the scaly animals, who won’t pay attention to the insects or the spiders, who don’t think the fish need just as much aid as the pandas. I’ve tried to talk to peers about it as a passing subject, a lot of the time I get responses not too dissimilar to “But Leopards are so cute!” or “Yeah but there’s only like 1500 pandas left in the world”. Yes they need conservation, I’m not saying we take away all funding from the ‘cute’ ones, but the fact that the Chinese Salamander, the largest amphibian that can be found on earth’s, population has declined by 80% in the last 30 years, so fast to the extent that its near impossible to pin an accurate population number onto it, is concerning. Even more concerning considering I’d never even heard of the beast until researching this project. People should have heard of it, people should know about these things so something can be done. I actually think the Chinese salamander is quite cute too!

So, my clear intention for this project is:

To communicate the imbalance in funding, publicity and conservation of wildlife based on the visual appeal of the animal itself and to explain how this is adversely affecting a huge percentage of the animal kingdom.  

To do this I can use a number of formats:

  • Book: Bestiary, illustrating as a collection, a range of beasts which don’t receive the funding they need because of their appearance.
  • Promotional material: Posters, flyers, postcards, advertising the Bestiary book.
  • Tangible Project: Something more three dimensional, more interactive for the audience. Reflecting more of the ‘cabinet of curiosities’ idea.
  • Series: A series of smaller books, perhaps each one focussing on one animal or animal group in particular. (Mammal/reptile. Crocodile/Buzzard etc.)

My next step is to research these ideas to within an inch of their lives and try to figure out where I want to go with it. I think writing up this post has helped me remember the purpose and intentions of the project and why I knew I’d enjoy it in the first place. Now to just get it down visually…

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