This week, I want to show an example of how we can use art to change the world. My example is about illustrating science so that it also appeals to those who love beauty and fantasy. When we talk about inclusiveness, we often talk about what words to use and how but rarely talk about the style of images. My questions for you this week are:
How could your art invite people to try new things or to think in a new way? How could your art make new people feel included right away?
Fairy Experiments for Thinkers and Tinkerers
Last fall, I was hired to illustrate a children’s book. It was a big project – well over 60 images and ornaments, including the illustration for the cover, shown above. The book is called “Fairy Experiments For Thinkers and Tinkerers” and its goal is to inspire young girls to explore science through fun experiments. The book hasn’t been published yet, but my client C.L. Hunt has an email list where you can sign up to get notified when the book goes on sale: www.fairyexperiments.com
Black-and-White Drawings in Victorian Style
The book combines fantasy and science in a fascinating way. My client wanted to have black-and-white hand-drawings with a Victorian feel.
Illustrating the Feminine Beauty of Science
This project soon became close to my heart. As a child, I fell in love with science at school and then later, studied software engineering at The Helsinki University of Technology. Natural science, especially physics and mathematics have always interested me. As a young girl, I bought copper sulfate from a pharmacy because I thought it was so beautiful. I warmed it to make bigger crystals from the powder and loved the glow.
I have had a few women, teachers and mentors, who have supported me during my career in technology. But I have also always known, even as a young girl, that I was in a masculine world. The assignments and the culture often felt strange and yes – let’s say it aloud: not beautiful at all.
Science is not just bolts and levers, it’s also a world of glitter, shimmer, and sunsets. Nature’s transformations, the structure of the universe, and the fascinating microcosmos are full of aesthetics. And still, most science books don’t show that beauty, at least not in a feminine way.
In this book, my goal was to combine intelligence and beauty so that the feel of the images is inviting and light-hearted too.
I was excited when my client wanted to combine fairy fantasies and practical science experiments. We were on the same page from the very beginning. In the end, she summarized the project:
“Paivi understood and appreciated my project, and her enthusiasm has kept me motivated to keep working on it. The images are very well suited to my book, and their style is exactly what I was looking for. Paivi kept to her schedule, communicated well when I had questions, and I was really happy creating a shared vision with Paivi. I recommend her warmly.”– C.L. Hunt, the author of Fairy Experiments For Thinkers & Tinkerers”
Illustrating Girl Power – Stepping away from a Passive Role
Even if we wanted to show the beauty of science, the fairies needed to be more than pretty faces and poses. In the illustrations, fairies take an active role and make the most of nature’s forces. I drew plain and classic dresses for the fairies so that action gets the attention.
My client also wanted to have a variety of ethnic groups so that every girl can feel that the book is for her.
Illustrating Science with a Flair of Fantasy
In the manuscript, there were wonderful descriptions that built bridges between reality and fantasy. My job was not only to demonstrate the essentials of the experiment but also tie them with imagination.
In these illustrations, fairies rule and take care of the world but also have fun. The book is all about exploring life’s miracles like the circle of life with step-by-step instructions.
With the book, the child becomes part of the royal guard of fairies, so my job was also to design a badge that could be colored. Here’s the badge with the rest of the visual world.
Expressing Natural Science as Ornaments
My favorite part of the projects was to design ornaments for fairy families. I hand-drew them all and used a computer only to make them symmetric.
These ornaments take ideas from the illustrations and express the major chapters in a decorative way. They mark the chapters and make the book look more Victorian.
I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek to the upcoming book Fairy Experiments for Thinkers and Tinkerers by C.L. Hunt!
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