You know, I like it when things are thought through. Whenever some acquaintance catches me with a book, they drop a phrase like: what a boring thing to read – you read deliberately what others grind through because they have to – why do you even bother?
A week or so later those same people sometimes come along and sigh, that it would be great to have some creative skill – so many ideas, but they can’t express them. Then they save their self esteem and say: if I only were talented…
Now talent might exist, but art is always connected to mental work. You have to tell a story, no matter what you do, and in order to do this, you need arguments. Why is this and that, because of such and such condition and history. This goes for science, art, religion. Moreover, this is a universal quality of everything we can understand from each other. You might be able to draw everything you see in minutes, to hear perfectly, to rhyme naturally or have a way to express yourself, that resembles computer code: but to tell a story you need vocabulary, and that’s where the work comes in.
Today, we have all seen all sorts of creatures being designed for video games and films, comic books or whatever. The sad thing is, that the artists behind these creations are not generally known. We know some head of operation, then the final product and it seems, that all this content has fallen out of one man’s or woman’s head. In this line, everybody might know George Lucas, but comparatively few will link to the name of Terryl Whitlatch.
Mrs. Whitlatch is an american concept designer, known by her work for Star Wars, Jumanchi, Beowulf or the Katurran Odyssey. Her creatures are plausible, because they’re biologically exact, that is, they could exist under known natural conditions. Their bodies are shaped by physical laws and the necessities of life. Looking at any one of her designs for just a second is enough to inspire all kinds of stories in your head, because you have the visual and logical clues to do so. For this quality in her work, she’s very well known among designers and she deserves to be known beyond this little focus group:
I believe Terryl Whitlatch posts on this blog: http://characterdesignnotes.blogspot.fr/2010/09/welcome-terryl-whitlatch.html
You can enter her master class here: http://talesofamalthea.com/
And listen to an interview with her here:
As a little aside, I’d like to mention that distinctions between fields of action, like biology, writing essays, joking, drawing, dreaming really lose their force, when these things are being done conclusively. That is, our brain can do one thing and create metaphors to all other fields, which are equally useful, as let’s say some introductory text on the topic. I think this is because of the similarity of structure between every possible activity we do. As case in point I want to refer to the Nasobem. Originally, this was a creature conceivied in a poem by Oskar Morgenstern. In 1961 Gerolf Steiner wrote a little text about the family of Rhinagradentia, in which he described in detail anatomy, physiology and behaviour of this little creature which walks on it’s nose. This text has been taken seriously for a time and is being published today by Elsevier and Spektrum.