I arrived at Assignment 5 and more than any of the other exercises and assignments, this was a very open project to create something based entirely upon my own interpretation of the phrase Seven Days. Using as much as could from what I had learned so far, I needed to come up with my own brief to research and finally produce and illustration for. As there are so many directions that I could have taken this in, I knew that I needed to narrow down my ideas quickly before I became overwhelmed by so much potential choice. I started with an open-minded spider diagram that explored as many concepts as I could relating to my words.
After a while, I was drawn towards three main options and noted down some overviews for each of my concepts before choosing one to take forward and develop fully.
1. One Big Year
I could potentially make seven panels that act as a comic series that chronologically follows one character through seven major events or celebrations in one year. This could include their Birthday, Valentine’s Day, Easter, A Wedding, Halloween, Christmas and New Year’s Eve as examples. Continuity would be maintained in the story by following the same characters' perspective throughout and by linking together some events like Valentines day and a wedding as part of the story. This idea would be good to target at editorial publishers as a series of seven stock images to either use in articles relating to the major events taking place in each panel, or to be displayed as a single strip.
2. The Origins of the Week
The origins of the days of the week are in mythology and astronomy as they are assigned to the seven celestial bodies that were observable by ancient civilisations. I could use this history of the gods and deities that the days are linked to as a basis for a single dramatic illustration that covers all of them. This would not necessarily have a specific target audience, but it has potential to be an impressive design for decoration, potentially for a calendar, album artwork for a band or simply on its own as a poster to be sold as an independent product.
3. A Seven Day Course
There are two options that I initially thought of for this approach. An instructional illustration could be used in the form of a leaflet to outline each step in a seven day course of learning for something such as swimming or driving in a way that will advertise and attract readers to sign up and learn something new. An alternative approach would be to cover seven days of a natural process in nature in an educational fashion, such as the life cycle of a frog tadpole to adult.
I took some time to consider these options, but I kept feeling the most enticed by the Origin of days concept. Even though it was the least clear to me as to what it exactly it would be and who it would be aimed at, I really liked the subject matter, so I did some extra research to see if which products or areas of authorial practice might have a suitable context.
Eventually, I did find something that really caught my interest. Although I knew that some timekeeping devices have dials that also track the days in a week and cycle of the moon, I didn’t realise that standalone Weekday Clocks existed with gearing systems designed to take them a full week to complete. These are commercially available as novelty homeware items, but I noticed that most of the ones that I had seen had plain faces with the day names and nothing nearly as captivating to me as the faux antique backdrops that are commonplace for regular twelve hour wall hanging clocks.
This was the basis for my idea to try and design my clock face that has been decorated with the relevant symbology from the ancient origins for the days of the week. I wrote up the following short to use as my guide for the project.
Design a clock face for a weekday clock that will feature images relating to each of the celestial bodies and deities that represent each corresponding day of the week in Greco-Roman culture.
Each day should contain visual references their corresponding deities in a 10” circular diameter design that complements the sequence of the clock’s central mechanism operates.
Take care to make sure the text for each of the days is clear to read, as the product will be targeted at homeowners and interior designers looking to add something new to complement their wall spaces.
From my initial research I had found that although the seven day week originally formed in the Babylonian civilisation, many cultures had since appropriated it with many variations and alternative names and in English a lot of the names have been influenced by roman and Norse mythological figures such as Saturday (Saturns' Day) or Thursday (Thors' Day). For this project I chose to specify the Greco - Roman version of the calendar as it refers to the seven celestial bodies visible with the naked eye and it holds symbology that is still used by both astronomy and astrology Today.
With my brief now figured out, I could start my usual creative process and research the specifics of each day and its related gods and planets. I investigated the mythologies and symbols behind each one and looked at famous depictions of them in classical paintings.
Through my research I was able to identify and give personality to each of the classical deities for each day of the week and sketch practice images for each one in my sketchbook. The Greek pantheon was syndicated by the Romans with a high degree of similarity, so I treated them as one entity for each of the days I wanted to feature on the clock face.
1. Sunday - Helios / Sol
God of the Sun and symbolised by and known for driving a four-horse driven golden chariot across the Sky.
2. Monday - Selene / Luna
Titan goddess of the Moon, she similarly rode the moon instead of the sun across the sky, pulled by two oxen or bulls due for the symbolic crescent shape of their horns.
3. Tuesday - Ares / Mars
A vicious god of war and violence represented by the tools he uses in battle. Swords, a shield and a spear.
4. Wednesday - Hermes / Mercury
The messenger god and the cleverest in myth, seen as a bringer of good fortune he is represented by his distinctive winged boots and helmet alongside his Caduceus (winged staff).
5. Thursday / Zeus / Jupiter
The king of all the gods. Symbolised through myth by the lightning bolts he wields as a weapon and the Eagle, the Bull and an oak tree from other myths associated with him.
6. Friday / Aphrodite / Venus
Goddess of passion, love and passion, she had the most symbols that I found, but most notable the shell she used to wash ashore in myth and her swan as a symbol for a permanent bond as they mate for life
7. Saturday - Cronus / Saturn
Not to be confused with Chronos, the Greek personification of time and origin of the word Chronology, this god is instead one of renewal, generation and agriculture as represented by his sickle and harvest imagery.
I added an additional 8th deity that I wanted to include in the centre hand for the clock. Janus, the roman personification of transition and transference was known for his distinctive two-faced form, one looking to the future and one looking to the past.
Next, I moved on to gather up images for mood boards that would help me visualise how I wanted the clock to feel. I looked at classical antique depictions of the stars and heavenly bodies and Prague's beautiful astronomical clock ended up being a major inspiration for me.
I then did the same but for mood boards that linked to each of these gods. They have been depicted in classical sculptures and paintings from renaissance antiquity, so I had plenty of examples to choose from to see how other artists had interpreted their personas. In addition to the mythological symbols, I added in the solar system symbols used in astrology and astronomy as well. I dedicated a page to each of the deities in my sketchbook to practice the shapes and features of the planets that each is associated with.
Now that I had a solid idea on how to decorate the sections for each day, I needed to plot out the overall composition. The standard shape was simple enough, a circle divided into seven segments, but I wanted to make sure that it resembled the antique star maps that I had been researching, so I took some time in Adobe Illustrator learning how to line up the geometry and use the line weight to my advantage.
After some trial and error I ended up making something that I felt was visually appealing, complete with Edwardian Script to list the names of the gods and weekdays along the inner and outer segments where 12 notches mark the hours for each day segment around the perimeter.
I moved the image to photoshop and inverted it to give a white outline to try colour combinations with. Most gods have obvious colour associations such as a deep red for Mars / Ares, but I made some adjustments of my own, such as giving Zeus / Jupiter a royal purple background to offset the orange.
Although I had made this template digitally, I was aware that it was ultimately too clean for the antiquated look that I ultimately wanted. Rather than adding aging effects in photoshop, I wanted to have a go at transferring the image onto a square section of Card to add distressing effects traditionally using inks and acrylic pens.
I made a quick template for each segment and tried a practice run on white card to check that all my planned symbols and stars would look effective before making the final version.
I enjoyed the look and texture that the inks on cardboard produced and even though the colours are still rich, the brown showing through from below in the areas where it naturally thins adds the aged effect that I wanted.
One thing that I found tricky to manage however is the size I was working that. The brief I set myself was for a 10 inch product, but I could have done the original illustration at a much larger to get that extra fidelity into the drawings of the symbols, who unfortunately ended up cruder than I intended.
With that said, the overall composition was still successful enough that I moved on to the final stage of bringing in my scan to make an original mock-up for the product as it would be seen to be sold at retail.
At this smaller scale, once I had added in the wood and brass frame, the shadows and the additional hand that I also made in Illustrator, it was good to see that my mistakes are not as noticeable here.
Overall, this is one of my favourite end images and a good conclusion for my Key Steps In Illustration 1 journey. I look forward to hearing my feedback for this and all of Part 5 so I can reflect on everything I have achieved before moving onto the next module.
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