Deny it all you want: humans are animals. So much of our culture and lifestyle seems an effort to obfuscate this fact. Yet I believe it key in recognizing our place in the world, possibly being the only creatures capable of such introspection. From a young age we are inclined to project our human view of things on the wild. Such anthropomorphism is a large part of what has made humans such successful creatures even though today this is now more apparent in the form of pets and films like Finding Nemo. But no matter what our age, we all have some inner animal that inspires us.
It's no secret that many artists use themes. From Dali's melting clocks to Monet's lilies, some of the art world's most famous works are variation on a theme. The most successful work comes from such iteration which leads to perfection. Many artists use animals in their work, often representing the artist themselves. I know I often draw monkey-like characters as they are my personal obsession. For Scott MacDonald, it would seem the fox is his. His stunning works are beautifully minimalist with a cartoon quality that jumps off the page into its own colorful universe.
Animals often represent brands as well as people. One of the most famous branded animals is the eponymous Penguin Press. I can't count the number of books I've read published by Penguin. And with this short web-story/classified ad I believe they have inadvertently hinted at the future of digital picture books. The wonderfully focused presentation of subtle color, text and animation result in a perfectly honed site with a clear message and goal.
Though who can think of cartoon animals without thinking animation? What was once Disney may now be Pixar, but regardless our love of animals, especially anthropomorphic ones, is quite palpable. This stunningly animated French short about a woman's struggle with shyness in the form of an alligator is equally powerful stupendous.
When we project our emotions in such stories, they allow us to work through tough moralistic issues no matter what our age. For children, this has become a key tool in teaching right from wrong all the way back to the first fables of Aesop and the Grimm brothers. Clearly we naturally identify with nature and to deny our place in it, whether scientifically or ideologically, is a denial of those very things that ground us to Earth and our humanity. So go howl at the moon and swing from the trees. Be an animal!--just remember to give it a good think after. That's the human part.
The Sketching Mechanism is a series of weekly posts, published on Mondays, containing the artistic musings of Mobile Designer/Developer Ben Chirlin from our Monday morning meeting at the NY Creative Bunker as well as his inspiring artistic finds of the week.