Back in 2016 I decided to start a weekly drawing project, bigger and more ambitious than any I had done before: I would draw 100 mermaids, one a week.
Somewhere along the way, egged on by the internet and my quiet desire to turn everything I do into something to hold and put on a shelf, it became clear the conclusion of my personal little drawing challenge would be a book of mermaids (simply referred to as ‘THE book’ in my inscrutable filing system).
Thusly, after having drawn mermaids for two years, I spent another year drafting and layouting (including new (spot) illustrations, a mini tutorial and a sketchbook section) this beast to fill it with fantastic pseudo-science*, stories and fairytales.
With the help of Elena Helfrecht, wonderful photographer and person, the texts were edited into shape, slimmed down on the metaphors (of which there were and still are many) until they were as elegant and sleek as the creatures they described.
In 2019 I released a strictly limited number of 50 hard cover copies of the 240 page book into the world. There’s currently no way to get your hands on one (sorry!), but here are a few pictures of the book and snippets of its contents to give you an idea.
*based on the meticulous research of sirenologist Dr. Cecilia ‘definitely-a-real-person’ Lillefisk
“How does one write a book about mermaids? How does one write a book about anything? You harbour knowledge or stories or experiences and know they cannot be shared by anybody but yourself. Without your help, they remain dead in the vast ocean of ideas.“
Not unlike ourselves, much of Gorgóna Eucrante′s behaviour is based on an ephemeral cloud of knowledge and experience that has accumulated throughout generations to shape each individual′s mind anew. We might call it culture.”
“Think of the Little Mermaid, the popular fairytale by H.C. Andersen. You know how it goes: the mermaid pining for a world outside of the sea, lured to the surface by the merry lights atop a large ship, carrying nothing less than a prince. In this version of the story, an individual of Sirena Lucerna takes the place of the little mermaid, who classically is of a yet unidentified species.”
“Nearly invisible, if it was not for the soft bioluminescent glow of her body, Sirena Medusa Clara′s photophore eyes are the only indicator of her presence, two beacons glowing in the dark and leading any diver stung by her long toxic tentacles astray.”
“Well-versed in all the typical techniques, such as vocal lure (earwitnesses report tales of tragic love, but our own recordings have so far only caught ‚la la la‘ on tape), Sirena Spinosa is not averse to simply chasing her prey down.
The local human population has built a wall of folktales around her lake and the deep wood surrounding it, keeping anyone but the foolish and suicidal out.”
Serra Volatus′ social etiquettes keep confusing us. Despite members of the species being in contact with each other, they keep a considerable distance, conveying their communications through high-pitched calls and the movement of their wings, the meaning changing with the position of the sun.
Presumably, the language developed while the mermaids signaled from one rock to another, turning distance into an integral part of their communication, a necessity to fully decipher any messages. Their language is like an impressionist painting: haplessly fluttering wings up close, poetry from far away.