• Jen

100 Myth Monsters

This year, I'm tackling a monstrous challenge in The 100 Day Project and illustrating creatures and monsters from world folklore everyday. The project started on Tuesday, April 7 and will end on July 16. As I write this, today is the 6th day of the challenge, so it's early days for sure, but I've already learned A LOT.

Other than to illustrate a creature everyday, I have specific goals for this project:

  • Research each subject and write a little blurb about it;

  • Illustrate to create a sense of character and story;

  • Use different animals, environments, and surface textures as references;

  • Practice creating art that can be printed as stickers, decals, logos;

  • Get at least some of those illustrations actually printed as stickers, buttons, etc. to begin building up an inventory for festivals (you know, when we can all get together again, on the other side of the COVID-19 crisis)

In these first days, my whole focus has really been on just doing the thing, sticking with it and making sure to post every day. A few days (more than half at this point) have been posts in the last minutes before midnight... but it still counts!

One of the challenges has been to stylize the art... how to make it look not just like the subject, but also carry a tone or expression that tells a story, and would look good as a sticker or button. Usually, the kind of illustrations I've been making are more similar to color plates or page illustrations in books. Which I love, and they're great! But, I want to diversify my art to make it more marketable in different media. So that's where I come up with the idea to draw with a particular end product in mind, i.e. a sticker, which design-wise is very different from a book illustration.

Here's an example. For Bungisngis, I went through three very different iterations before I settled on the final version (below, right) - and posted that sucker at like 11:45 pm that first night.

Although I really like all of the versions I made, they're all so different, and I thought the one on the right looked most like it could be a sticker. To me, the left looks like it could be a character in a comic book, and the middle is like a poster or postcard (or inset in a book about mythological creatures).

I had a similar thing with Leshy:

I ended up posting the one on the left, which I do really like, and I do also think could make a cool sticker... also it's modeled after my favorite real-life bearded man's face, so there's that, too. But I thought that the character of the tempermental forest spirit could be better captured in a more exaggerated illustration, and with the figure taking on more tree-like attributes. I actually think I'll digitally render both for printing, and just have two versions.

The main lesson I've (re)learned from this so far is how essential sketching and thumbnailing is. Although I do it for each piece before committing ink to paper, I usually end up somewhere mid-way through working on the finished piece thinking hm, this would be better if it was more tree-like, or had more wild colors... and then I start all over with that new idea.

This has been a fun project to take on, and also really cool to see what other folks are doing. You can follow along with my posts here, and on my instagram and facebook. You can also find more 100 Day Projects by checking out #the100dayproject on Instagram.