posted by Matt Ward on Jan 12, 2010.
In this post, I collect a variety of different images of Avatar fan art, and share some of my thoughts and reactions to the film, it’s general reception and even some of what I think will happen with the Avatar franchise in the future. Mostly, though, this is simply a showcase of some incredible art!
What’s one of the single biggest media explosions of the past couple months? How about James Cameron’s massively epic Avatar? Aside from the much-documented use of Papyrus for the film’s logo, it was a pretty incredible film, especially from a visuals perspective (I thought the story was good, but not outstanding). This movie is about a lot more than the story, though. It’s all about the incredible digital creation of an entire digital world.
When I watched the film last week, I was really struck by the vastness of Pandora (especially since it’s only a moon), and the incredible imagination that went into the design of the various creatures. I don’t even know what too call most of them, but they all seemed to have their basic form in animals I recognized. There were giant beasts that looked like a highly modified rhino, smaller predators that ran like wolves in a pack, and a much larger predator that was like some sort of giant black panther on some powerful, mutating steroid (one of my personal favorites).
Obviously, though, one of the biggest parts of this budding franchise is the Na’vi, those wonderfully blue indigenous people of Pandora, who call themselves the People and are the guardians of their beloved world. It seems to me that these people have already completely captured the minds of the worldwide Avatar audience, and that this film could very easily establish an enduring legacy that will implant itself firmly in our cultural consciousness.
Just look at some of these examples of stunning fan art:
There are some beautiful images here (and you can see even more below), and the implications of all these creations and astounding. The film has only been out for around one month, and many people have already seen it multiple times. I went to see it with a friend, and am considering going back to see it with my wife.
The film and it’s story appear to have already pieced deeply into our cultural fabric, and while I’m not certain that there is anything in the film quite as iconic as a character like Darth Vader or Yoda, the plethora of fan images and frenzy of discussion and activity surrounding the film will grow beyond the screen. I personally expect to see the foundation of an entire franchise, complete with novelizations, graphic novels, toys, possibly a cartoon series. I would even expect to see some sort of cinematic sequel, despite the massive cost of creating the first one.
Of course, the Na’vi people are at the very center of all of this, as we can see through even more artistic renditions of them:
The immense popularity of these people raises some very interesting questions about exoticism and the human condition. I tried to include mostly original paintings and drawings here, but if you take even a quick look around deviantArt, you can easily find all sorts of instances where people have actually manipulated self-portraits in order to transform themselves into Na’vi.
This is nothing new, really. For years, there has been an entire sub-genre of fantasy in which people envision different types of humanoid creatures (often cat-like), in an effort to push past the mundane every-day-ness of their own humanity. It’s basically a form racial escapism (which is different from racism, since we are accepting that all of humanity encompasses a single race).
The very premise of the Avatar film takes this to a whole new level, though, since one of the key elements actually involves humans using technology to grow Na’vi bodies and temporarily transfer their consciousness into that body. It’s the ultimate fictional realization of this form of escapism! I think that this is at least part of the reason why these blue people, and the film surrounding them is proving so popular.
Ultimately, I see everything that’s going on here as a designer’s dream, albeit through a very specific form of design. I haven’t seen any interviews or special features myself, but I know enough about the special effects world to also know that hours and hours and hours of work must have actually gone into designing the Na’vi as a race. They had to look distinctly alien and foreign, but still resemble humans and be attractive enough for the audience to be drawn into their world.
It must have taken a significant investment, by a large number of incredibly talented people to bring the Na’vi from a conceptual people to an entire race of fully rendered digital characters.
Now imagine one of your own designs reaching such a level of cultural success as Avatar seems to be destined for. Perhaps it’s a logo that becomes as renowned as the Nike swoosh or McDonald’s golden arches. Or maybe it’s a poster that becomes so well known that an entire stream of similar designs emerge in tribute or reference, like the famous Uncle Sam poster. Maybe it’s a product, like the iPod, which defines an entire aesthetic, all on it’s own!
It would, I think, be incredibly arrogant and probably foolish to make such recognition the goal or purpose of any design. As designers our primary objective must always be to ensure the successful realization of a particular goal or purpose, which I do not believe should ever be fame itself.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t dream.
What do you think? I know I was kind of all over the map in this post, but I wrote it as a kind of showcase of and reaction to the incredible amount of beautiful Avatar artwork that I’ve seen popping up. Which ones were your favorites? Are there any other comments, reactions or ideas that you would like to add?Post A Comment
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