Fairies of the World

I just wanted to share some cuties that I illustrated for a project that focused on fairies and magical creatures from around the world!

This little guy is Le Petit Souris, or in English, “The Little Mouse”; who is much like the tooth fairy in French speaking countries. He’s a popular character who collects the baby teeth from little children and rewards them with coins under their pillow, and many other cultures have similar legends, and the popular French story is likely to date to the 18th century in a fairy tale written by Madame d’Aulnoy.

A yumboe is a spirit from Wolof mythology who are said to be ancestral spirits who are pearly white and stand about two feet tall. They are known as the “good people” and are helpful spirits who will invite strangers to their midnight feasts. Native to Senegal, they live under hills called “paps” which are natural rock formations in the shape of a bump, and are known to steal corn and wheat from humans, though they do their own fishing.

In the fairy stories from Germany, we have the ”moosleute” or moss folk, who are described in varying ways, but are forest spirits who are protectors of the trees and plants. Like many fairies, they can be helpful and generous, but are quick to anger and should be treated with respect. Some say the moss folk look like green, mossy dwarves, while the “woodwives” are said to be beautiful maidens with herbal healing powers. They are also said to particularly hate caraway bread!

Of course, the tooth fairy is a classic and popular character in many Western cultures. Superstitions around the milk teeth of children are present around the world, and in Europe, it was recommended to either hide or destroy these teeth for fear they may be used in a spell by a witch. Interestingly, the amount received by children for their lost teeth is also effected by inflation, so the tooth fairy appears to be financially savvy! I chose a rather traditional depiction of the tooth fairy, but there is actually no real consensus on how the fairy looks - some believe it is a pixie, a small dragon, a ballerina or even a tiny dental hygienist!

Many cultures around the world have a mythos about mermaids or a mermaid like creature - these two represent two different cultures; the Celtic mermaid, known as the “morgen”, and the ancient fertility goddess Atargatis from Syria. The name morgen may come from words meaning “sea-born”, and their origins and stories vary. Some tales say they are like selkies, and may be raised by humans, but will always wish to return to the sea. Others say that they are like sirens, and will lure unsuspecting travellers to their doom with their beautiful voices.

Atargatis was a chief goddess during the Classical period of ancient Syria. She was attributed with love and beauty, and had many aspects of the Greek goddess Aphrodite, though she was more closely associated with water and was depicted with the tail of a fish. Fish were sacred to Atargatis, and a surviving pool dedicated to her and her fish survives in the modern city of Urfa.

I would love to illustrate even more fairies and mythological creatures from around the world - I find it so interesting that you can often find similiar tales from places that are culturally and physically quite different, and I love to read the history of these creatures that have held such a special place in folklore from around the world!

Villager Puzzles : Plants, plants, plants!

Today marks the day that the new season of Villager puzzles are out there into the world and I wanted to share a little behind the scenes look at how my design “Plant Mom” came to be.

Firstly - Villager is a woman-owned small business founded in 2023 by self-professed puzzle snob Kelly Striemer, who lives and works on Vancouver Island. Her first collection features eight Canadian women artists, with a diverse range of styles and voices, and after the amazing success of her first launch, reached out to another batch of artists to join the amazing group of “Villagers”. And I was so luckily to be invited to join!

This season’s theme is “hobbies” - anything that brings us joy and calm - a perfect match for puzzlers. After chatting with Kelly, we moved forward with a design themed around “plant moms” - that sort of person whose home is more like an indoor jungle. The brief was a modern yet cozy space with “almost too many plants”. Firstly, I started with a sketch as always -

My first sketch was actually in a portrait format - but Kelly asked if we could try it in a landscape instead, which ended up being the winner. After we nailed down the sketch, it was time to start on the final illustration. I always keep the future puzzler in mind when I’m working on illustrations like this - I read feedback and critiques to makes sure I’m keeping things a little challenging but still fun. I’ve been known to overlay a grid of puzzle pieces over the art to make sure no parts are too boring - honestly, it’s come in handy. Once the illustration was ready, it was time to send it off to get printed and turned into a real life puzzle, which is always going to feel like magic. I even got to have my face on the box!

I’m very inspired by Kelly’s village spirit when it comes to how she works - she does much of the work herself, or with her friends and family. The beautiful product images on her website are styled by her and the photos are taken by her husband. I think you can really feel the love and sincerity that’s poured into her brand and I’m so glad I get to be a part of the Village.

 The new season of puzzles are available for order now on her site here https://villagerpuzzles.com/ - please take a chance to look at all the beautiful art that my fellow creatives have contributed (it’s impossible to pick a favourite!).

Posters for Geordie Theatre

Last year, I was approached by the good folks from Geordie Theatre to work with them on the posters for their 2023/2024 season. Geordie Theatre is a professional theatre company based in Montreal that has been entertaining audiences since 1981. 

The programming for this season includes three unique shows - “Perfect Storm”, “Instant” and “Other Worlds”. I was provided with a summary of the plot and given a brief on what they were looking for in the posters.

“Perfect Storm” is a story about friendship and all the complexities that come with it - I was asked to design an image of two young girls sharing an umbrella. Initially I had them rather happily enjoying a stroll through the rain together, but then was asked to make their expressions more tentative, and then really play up the aspect of the stormy weather bringing them closer.

“Instant” follows three teens who find themselves navigating the harsh and lightning fast world of social media and instant communications in their quest for fame and recognition. One is an aspiring hockey player, the other a hopeful singer and one just wants to help her father. I decided to show the leads as facets of the same person through the frames of social media / apps.

“Other Worlds” focuses on two young people who find themselves at odds with land developers who encroach on their tiny island home. I was asked to visualize the characters with hints towards the play’s themes of neurodiversity and identity, and show the unique setting of the play as well.

It was wonderful working with the team at Geordie Theatre, and I’m grateful that I got to be small part of such a special season of plays!

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