Most of my work is about myself.
I’ve been using some of these symbols for so long they’ve been progressively boiled down to a few details, whilst becoming increasingly complex in meaning. For the two or three people who’ve come along for the ride, they might make (some!) sense, but for everyone else they can be a little confusing…
Hence a primer of sorts, a beginner’s guide to some of the main themes.
(Clockwise from the top. Click on any image to see full size version, and cycle through all images.)
I’d always enjoyed the stubbornness of my Zodiac, Taurus. So it was a foregone conclusion when I first saw the winged bull symbol of Saint Luke (patron saint of artists), and crest of the medieval guild of artists (with a bonus parallax infinity of shields on shields.) I adopted it as my own heraldry and eventual tattoo.
So whenever you see a bull, it’s me, or often more specifically, my creativity (or lack thereof!)
This is probably the most persistent of all of the symbols, about keeping everything in my life under control. Generally it only comes out when things are only just under control, or just hitting the fan.
I’ve juggled love interests, drug choices, work/life balance and even just the ideas of self control.
I wrote about this one a little while back, a kind of trudging, slumped-back defeatism. The same pose with different props: walking through a maze of paths on an endless flat plain; running on a treadmill or in a wheel; dragging a ball and chain.
All have that idea of drudgery and futility, but with different flavours… the maze referring to life direction, the treadmill more to work, and the ball and chain about relationships. They do have the occasional redemption, with a bit of stoicism thrown in!
Oddly enough I’d never made the connection between some of the early multi-armed goddess style allegories I drew early on, and Trixen, until I started work on this. I certainly have a long history of sublimating my frustrations into detailed and objectified illustrations!
I had a bunch of earlier pedantic avatars, self-conscious and artificial. This one just kept coming back to haunt me after the original drawing, until anything with sickly green skin, or protruding vertebra was nailing this concept: the decay and temptation of addiction.
It was a fear of death, but strangely enough, not really about the fear of getting old.
A combo avatar and concept, the latter being the shedding of dead layers to reveal the new life. This idea became quite important for me learning to let go of the past and accept change, inspiring my unofficial motto “The flower must die, for the seed to fall.”
The avatar mutated, the butterfly/flower man eventually symbolising shallow and narcissistic pleasure, the initial reborn confidence turning sour.
The most intense, and probably the most short lived of all the avatars, literally born in its first appearance from a sense of profound isolation at the time. A defence mechanism that embraced the sense of alienness.
He started off as an AD&D character when I was 14 and grew from there. A cross-breed elf not accepted by either of his parent races, chasing an unrequited love and chased by one in return… tragic teen angst but still meaningful to me nearly 30 years later.
It never crosses into my “mainstream” work, crows and ravens are just standard symbols of doom, but exists in its own self contained universe of symbolism.
A small bonus symbol, the scar on the top of my head (the result of a run in with a door frame) did a lot of double duty as a second mouth, in a Janus double-mask fashion.
This drawing was initially inspired by the fantastic “Realms of Wonder” at the Art Gallery, in particular the wall of Hindu temple carvings. It started as a marker rendered “statue,” but pondering what it would be holding in the many hands, turned it progressively into an instructional diagram.
As a final scary extra, the Photoshop mockup I made for reference using the iMac’s built in camera – dodgy self chat!