Cave paintings prove that animal kingdom is admired for as long as human history reaches back. For what more sophisticated and complex is there on Earth for humankind to observe and study. While parts of fauna remain unknown, we did get to know already that the Nature truly is the biggest inventor. Species capable of matching their form, color, brightness, pattern and texture to the surrounding, like octopus vulgaris is, leave simply no choice but to be amazed.
Nonetheless, animals’ role extends far beyond the biology sciences. Their look provides the explosion of visual sensations, triggering the imagination of artists, who developed many artistic approaches to capture it. Resulting in anything from photorealism supported by anatomical analysis, theory of light and color; through stylization based on observation mixed with creativity embeded in a particular style choice; up to minimalism, created by reduction to the essence of subject's recognizability.
I have come to believe that the biggest challenge is the minimalistic approach. It consists of pushing the boundaries of formal reduction. Thorough observation helps to determine what characterizes an animal the most. Whether it's a texture, pattern, form, proportions or a single shape. This way selected parts are then taken out of context, simplified and emphasized. Decreasing the number of graphic elements increases the significance of each one of them. Interestingly, when given this kind of image, viewers are able to subconsciously fill the visual gaps and effortlessly recognise the animal. Furthermore, the less items image contains, the more powerful each of them becomes as an element carrying some meaning and therefore the more crucial is its position, scale and stylization in relation to the original. Minimalistic perfection can be reached once there are only these elements left, lack of which would compromise overall legibility.
Moreover, reduction is not necessarily the goal itself. It's a step, often followed by finding some sort of order in graphic representation. Animal figure can be boiled down to the most basic shapes, like circles or straight lines only. Because human brain has a default tendency to instantly simplify gathered visual data, the viewers are in fact able to understand this graphical game. My hero in that matter will always be Charley Harper, whose lifetime affection for animals is immortalized in simplified - but never obvious - yet joyful graphics, that all have geometry in their cores. It is Harper's 'Animal kingdom' that pushed me towards geometrization, which never had I imagined as a language for organic subjects before.
‘Animal Graphics’ is a proof of animal kingdom being more than just present in graphic design today. It is a substance very much alive in forms and styles so various, that there is a noticeable need for a collective publication of this kind. Its role is to present the wide range of design approaches. And there is plenty to show. As if designers were as creative as Nature is. Well, we will always try.