Stringfoot

‘Stringfoot’ refers to a condition suffered by urban pigeons. It is when string, thread, human hair and other such things get tangled up with pigeon’s feet and causes them to lose their toes.

It’s a really nasty and tragic thing and there are people out there helping some of these birds recover and apparently when rescued from the thing binding their feet, they survive remarkably well, so there is hope.

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A pigeon that has sadly lost it’s feet to stringfoot. 

The reason I bring this up when I am doing something about sea creatures rather than avians, is because it made me think about fishing lines and fishing nets. And whilst I haven’t heard stories about ‘stringfoot’ happening to sea creatures, it did make me think about how fish get tangled and caught up in nets and fishing lines. I think it could make for a horrible but  hopefully meaningful image to try and highlight this problem in my drawings.

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Why Sea Life Doesn’t Have Great White Sharks

When I was watching YouTube one day, as really interesting video came up in my recommended tab and so I decided to have a look at it.

The video was all about the reason why we don’t see great white sharks in aquariums, but perhaps more interesting was that it talked about the attempts that people have made to keep great whites in captivity.

I linked the video if you wanted to look at it, but long story short the reason they don’t do well is mostly because they are long range predators that must keep moving in long uninterrupted lines to thrive. Aquariums can’t really accommodate this and that’s why a lot of great whites that have been in captivity have died in the aquarium or died shortly after release. The most recent attempt was in Okinawa, Japan where the full grown shark was found dead in only three days. It seems that there has been more success in keeping younger, smaller great whites than the full grown adults but like I said, they tended to die shortly after release into the wild.

 

 

One of the things that I really latched onto was the way that these sharks were injuring themselves because they were being kept in an unsuitable environment. It made me kind of upset because it was something that kept happening every single time although I was most upset by the example about the shark in Japan. Whilst they hadn’t set out to catch the shark, instead getting it from a fisherman who accidentally caught it, but it was an 11 foot shark. I just felt like it was kind of irresponsible to do that.

On the back of this, I would like to start drawing some sharks that have ended up injured. I thought it could make for a good concept to show that we really can affect even the most feared of sea predators.

A Pokemon World

I don’t think that I could be doing a project involving designing creatures without mentioning my undying love for the Pokemon franchise.

I have had this strange fascination with fantastical creatures and drawing them ever since I was a child and I really owe this in part to Pokemon.

At a superficial glance, Pokemon are just these little creatures that 10 year olds collect and battle with. And whilst I won’t deny the collecting and battling aspect, there are a lot of deeper, sometimes very dark things running in the background whether this be the in game Pokemon encyclopaedia (the Pokedex), the various creepy locations throughout the series (most notably Lavender Town which was said to be responsible for several child suicides) or strange character backstories (or sometimes the lack of). Yes, like most Nintendo games, Pokemon is no exception to being subjected to some very dark undertones whilst, on the surface, being a vibrant and wonderful land filled with adventure and friendship.

There’s a lot of Pokemon that are directly influenced by people’s existence in that world. There’s even some Pokemon that were artificially created such as Mewtwo and Porygon.

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Porygon, a Pokemon created with computer code and was also the star Pokemon of the banned Pokemon episode that caused children to have seizures.
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Mewtwo – ‘It was created by a scientist after years of horrific gene-splicing and DNA-engineering experiments.’ Pokemon X and Y Poked.
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This cute little blob is Ditto and it is able to take on the form of any Pokemon. It is unknown whether or not it is an artificial Pokemon.

 

Aside from the three Pokemon listed above, there are couple of Pokemon that relate more closely to my project thematically speaking.

The first two being Trubbish and Garbodor.

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Trubbish (right) and Garbodor (left) are a pair of Pokemon found in a Pokemon region inspired by the real life America. As you can probably tell, these two Pokemon are based on trash found in the big city. In fact the Pokedex says ‘the combination of garbage bags and industrial waste caused the chemical reaction that created this Pokémon.’ They are also said to follow people who litter around to eat their trash. 
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‘Born from sludge, these Pokémon now gather in polluted places and increase the bacteria in their bodies.’ This is Grimer’s entry in the Pokedex, just like Trubbish and Garbodor, this Pokemon is influenced by the way that the inhabitants of the Pokemon world live. 

I hope that by showing you these examples as to why I am so interested in them. What they show is how you can use the creatures in a game or a story to convey even more story or world building. Whilst my characters aren’t existing in the same way that the Pokemon exist in theirs, they are creatures that are being used to develop a narrative about the wider world, just like Pokemon like Muk and Ditto develop a narrative about theirs wether it be pollution or controversial genetic mutations.

 

‘Plastic In Our Ocean’

‘Plastic In Our Ocean’ is a t-shirt design by a street artist called Mau Mau. It is all about plastic pollution in the sea.

I found his work in a copy of The Big Issue and I was really interested to see how someone else had looked at this topic.

I think that Mau Mau’s piece is very effective because it is really easy to understand which is very important since it is on a t-shirt. I think some t-shirt designs can be a bit confusing to work out. This one on the other hand is very clear and has an inviting illustrative aesthetic that conveys a serious topic without it being overly grim and I think that can be the difference between people getting on board with something like this or not. I think if you present the problem you’re trying to raise awareness of in an overly serious, or catastrophic way, people might lose hope in trying to solve the problem and stay ‘well I guess there’s no point trying if it’s already that bad’.

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The Last Clay Creature

Ideated that I wanted to have one last attempt at making a creature out of clay. I didn’t want it to be as big as the last one and I really wanted to make the face look more alive.

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I think I managed to give my fish more expression and facial muscles this time which I was happy with. I wanted it to look angry and I think it does. 
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I was making some limbs for the fish.
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I realised after making these limbs that they were way too long and so I had to scrap them.
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My finished fish. This one is definitely my best yet and it was encouraging to see the result because even though I have a long way to go, I feel like I’m getting there slowly. 

The Kaiju

Kaiju is the Japanese word for ‘strange creature’ or, as we would more commonly say in English, ‘monster’.

Godzilla is probably the thing we might first think of when we think of ‘kaiju’. He the king of monsters and is the manifestation of the sheer destruction and terror brought on by the atomic bombs that hit Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It represents the mindless big scale destruction that humans are capable of unleashing on one another.

Above is the original ‘man in the suit’ Godzilla. It’s easy to laugh at especially these days at the costuming here, but try to bare in mind that this was made in Japan less than 20s years after the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.Godzilla-1954-III_2898601b

Above is the original ‘man in the suit’ Godzilla. It’s easy to laugh at especially these days at the costuming here, but try to bare in mind that this was made in Japan less than 20s years after the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Scenes from the film involve cramped hospitals, irradiated children and burning buildings. Burning buildings may well be par for the course when it comes to a kaiju/monster/disaster movie but there’s something about knowing the background to this particular rendition that makes it a little uncomfortable.

It may seem strange to talk about the kaiju here but it actually holds a lot of relevance to my cited project. The idea behind my project is to create these creatures/characters that might represent the problems of the real world. They may look cartoonish or even cute depending on my final designs but they are quite serious in nature. I think the challenge can be to make sure that behind the appearance people can see the issues being addressed because it’s easy to watch something like the Godzilla films (especially the latest ones from the West) and view it as mindless entertainment because the real values and ideas being upheld by the original has been lost somewhere in the mix.

I want my creatures to look approachable and not too gruesome on the outside but for the implications to be a bit unsettling and like the 1954 Godzilla film, for people to understand their impact on the world around them.

Making a Monster

I decided that I wanted try making something in clay to start getting an idea of how my characters/creatures might look in 3D.

I started making it by using a coiling technique and then pinched bits of clay and blending them together. Once I had the overall shape, I added details like the scales and fins.

The idea behind this creature was that it could be this giant bipedal creature that could just walk out the ocean and wreak havoc. I’m not sure if this would make it to my final piece because I’m worried it might be seen to be too similar to Godzilla, I’m also not as fond of the design as some of my other characters that I think look more fun and quirky whilst holding the weight of what I’m saying.

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Overall, I’m happy with how it turned out considering I really haven’t done that much modelling before. There are definitely improvements that I need to make such as adding more character to the features. I also think I need to work on the way I’ve added some of the details such as the lines of the fins because I don’t really like how I did that.