Saturday, July 28, 2012

Gust Blogger - Vanja Todoric

Fairy Tales with a Twist

Hey everybody my name is Vanja Todoric, and I will be your guest bloger for today.
First of all I would like to thank Petar Meseldzija, the man who most certainly was one of my biggest role models while growing up, for giving me a chance to share some of my thoughts with you.

I decided this time to write about the things that motivate me, stuff I love to illustrate and my favorite theme of all - fairy tales.

Serbian Mythology - Rebels, “Witch Flying on a Walnut” 

For the last three years, the theme that was most present in all of my illustrations was either closely or entirely related to fairy tales. Whether I was working on my personal stuff, or the “Serbian Mythology” books, or the project I’m currently working on, I just couldn’t escape from them, and what was even more interesting, I couldn’t get enough of them!

Usually any kind of overusing a certain theme will eventually lead you up to the point where you will get fed up with it, and won’t stand to look, listen, or speak of it any more.

Banished Creatures, “Midwife”, “Nightmare” and “Talason” 

So during these three years I was expecting the same thing would happen to the affection I have for fairy tales. But strangely it didn’t, and I was starting to wonder why.

I’m sure that there are many reasons that can explain this, but here is the one that I think is probably the most accurate one. Fairy tales were, are and always will be popular among us because long time ago we chose to keep that beautiful tradition of reading and telling them to our kids.

Serbian Fairy Tales, “The Groom Snake”, “PepperCorn” and “The Golden Fleece Ram” 

Even today, you can stop a kid on a street, with all the Iphone/pod/pad gadgets dangling of him, and he will still know to tell you about the Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, or Pinocchio. And it does not matter what century we live in, there will always be a new way to tell the old stories we’ve heard so many times before.

That is so awesome because, these days, most of the people in the world will be able to recognize and relate to your reinterpretation of a certain story, because most of us remember how it felt when you were a kid snuggled up in your bed, waiting for your mom or dad to read you about the three little Piglets battling the Big Bad Wolf, or how Peter Pan kicked Captain Hook’s butt over and over again.

 “Lela and the Fox”

One of the things that also drove me to this conclusion was when I remembered the first long animated movie that Walt Disney made in 1937. I really think he had in mind all the things I mentioned before when he choose “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” as the theme for his cartoon. And Nearly 80 years later, in 2012, two movies were made using the same theme, “Mirror Mirror” and “Snow White and the Huntsman”, and as I know each one of them was considered to be a great success.

I think that’s the true example of the beautiful effect that fairy tales have on people, the fact that after all the different versions of fairy tales that were presented to us for years and years, we still get excited when we hear about the new book, movie, animation, or a theatre play that is based on one of them.

That is why I love them so much, and why I will continue to illustrate them for many years to come.

“Trivun Kalaba riding his Black Steed” 

Here are some of the fairy tales I did, which I’m sure most of you know.

Little Red Riding Hood

In this version there is no hunter who comes and rescues granny and the little girl in the end, ... wolf eats them, story over. This is the main reason why the girl has a scull instead of a face ( a "walking dead" metaphor).

This was the first Fairy Tale reinterpretation I did, I know it’s not much different from the original, but I see now that this was just a warm up illustration that pretty much defined the style and mood of the ones that were about to come.

Charles Perrault “Little Red Riding Hood” 2009. 

Goldie Locks And The Three Bears

This is the illustration I did for the CGsociety ''Secret Agent'' challenge. The illustration won the “Best Character Award”.

The World famous POTATO PORRIDGE factory gets anonymous tip of a "Mama Bears Home Made Potato Porridge" that tastes so good, the sources say it may endanger the existence of their factory and brand.

After losing trace of six of their finest agents, the board of directors sends agent "G" (AKA Goldie Locks) to try infiltrate and steal the recipe for "MBHMPP". While The Bears are away, agent "G" sneaks into their home, finds the recipe but the problem suddenly appears ... the SECRET INGREDIENT part is missing

In order to find out what the secret ingredient is, she starts tasting the porridges served on the table. They taste so good but she is unable to make out the secret ingredient part. All of a sudden her eyes feel very heavy, she tries to fight it as long as she can, but eventually she drops on the bed near by. In that moment the missing pieces of the puzzle reveal the horror, that is her soon to be future ...

The bears are the ones responsible for the anonymous tip, bears are the ones who tricked agent "G" into tasting the porridge with the sleeping potion in it, and the secret ingredient, ... well, the secret ingredients are secret agent body parts.

The Grimm Brothers “The Goldie Locks and the Three Bears” 2010. 

The Little Match Girl

This is the illustration I did for the CGsociety ''DreamScape'' challenge. The illustration won the “Best Character Award”.

I'm sure most of you know the fairy tale ''The Little Match Girl'' by Hans Christian Andersen.
Well, my story begins when this one ends. 

When the last match is out, and there is nothing else to keep her warm in this cold winter night. When she finally closes her eyes and drifts away into her last ice cold dream ...
Here, in this dream, she will take her last stand fighting off cold, but unfortunately we all know how this dream is going to end.

I wanted to show the girl’s struggle in a different way than in the original story, so as a metaphor for cold I used polar animals, and the matches she used to keep her warm became the sword of fire.

Hans Christian Andersen “The Little Match Girl” 2011. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Golden Apple-tree and the Nine Peahens

Once upon a time there lived a king who had three sons. Now, before the king's palace grew a golden apple-tree, which in one and the same night blossomed, bore fruit, and lost all its fruit, though no one could tell who took the apples. One day the king, speaking to his eldest son, said, " I should like to know who takes the fruit from our apple-tree." And the son said, " I will keep guard tonight, and will see who gathers the apples." So when the evening came he went and laid himself down under the apple-tree upon the ground to watch. Just as the apples ripened, however, he fell asleep, and when he awoke in the morning there was not a single one left on the tree. Whereupon he went and told his father what had happened. Then the second son offered to keep watch by the tree, but he had no better success than his eldest brother.

So the turn came to the king's youngest son to keep guard. He made his preparations, brought his bed under the tree, and immediately went to sleep. Before midnight he awoke and looked up at the tree, and saw how the apples ripened, and how the whole palace was lit up by their shining. At that minute nine peahens flew towards the tree, and eight of them settled on its branches, but the ninth alighted near him and turned instantly into a beautiful girl so beautiful, indeed, that the whole kingdom could not produce one who could in any way compare with her. She stayed, conversing kindly with him, till after midnight, then, thanking him for the golden apples, she prepared to depart ; but, as he begged she would leave him one, she gave him two, one for himself and one for the king, his father.
Then the girl turned again into a peahen, and flew away with the other eight…

(from the 1917 edition of Serbian Fairytales published by William Heinemann, London)

Golden Apple-tree and the Nine Peahens, 2012

To read the whole tale click here
More info about this tale you can find here

Here are a few depiction of the same scene done by other artists.

                                                               William Sewell, 1914

                                                              Arthur Rackham, 1916

                                                                Violet Brunton, 1928

                                                                  Bob Živković, 2000

                                                                 Cory Godbey, 2009

Monday, July 9, 2012

Lucky paintings

Some paintings get lucky. They get more attention, they are more often used and published than others, the less lucky ones. I have to admit that it’s not crystal clear to me why it is so. Well, I presume that, generally speaking, it is because they are perhaps “better” than other pieces, whatever that “better” might mean. Apparently these lucky ones have a certain appeal and speak to the imagination of the public more vividly, or perhaps they have just hit the right cord and had a good timing. Sometimes the interest in a piece of art is of a temporary nature, and sometimes the image stays intriguing for many years to come.  Perhaps we could say that some paintings have good karma, and some don’t, which does not necessarily mean that they are bad pieces of art.   
At the end, the Time will have the final word and will be the ultimate judge of the general quality, importance and will reveal the true character of the success of such an artwork.   

However, The Rescuer might be seen as one of these lucky paintings. I must admit that, although I like this piece, it is not my favorite one. But this is nothing unusual. It is often the case that artists have a different opinion and feeling about their own pieces comparing to the opinion of the public. 

The Rescuer has recently been published on  the cover of a Serbian comic magazine.

They put it on the cover of IlluxConcepts 3 (Illuxcon 4 catalogue).

It was also printed as one the official Illuxcon 2011 posters.

This year it has been nominated for a Spectrum Award.

The Rescuer has been included in the most comprehensive exhibition on the fantastic art up to date, At the edge: Art of the Fantastic (curated by Pat and Jeannie Wilshire) in the AllentownArt Museum, Allentown, Pennsylvania, USA. I must say that I am delighted by the fact that my little painting is hanging in the same exhibition together with the works of many of my artistic idols and “mentors” like William Blake, Gustave Dore, Alphonse Mucha, Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac, Howard Pyle, Franklin Booth, Dean Cornwell, William Russell Flint, JC Leyendecker, NC Wyeth, Frank Frazetta, Boris Vallejo, Jeffrey Jones, Manuel Sanjulian, Brian Froud, Moebius, Bernie Wrightson, James Gurney, Greg Manchess, Donato Giancola, Phil Hale, Greg and Tim Hilderbrandt, John Howe, John Jude Palencar, Michael Parkes among many other brilliant artists.