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Forum Home - Go Back > General > Native Life > Native Issues HELP: Creating a respectful headdress illustration HELP: Creating a respectful headdress illustration

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Old 04-15-2020, 05:51 PM   #1
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Question HELP: Creating a respectful headdress illustration

Hi, I am an illustration Student from Colorado and have been assigned to design a cover for a book. My chosen book is '[I]There There[I]' by Tommy Orange which centers around urban Indians in Oakland, California.

My idea for a cover was to incorporate the road signs mentioned in the novel into a recognizable design that illustrates what the book is about (as Oakland is in itself a character and crucial part of the story as is made obvious by the book's prelude).

So, I came up with attached design (shown by rough sketch) to show how connected people, culture, and location are - playing off of the idea of feathers being replaced by the road signs that were 'earned' throughout the story.

I want to stress that I confess to my own ignorance and have being my best to research and learn. I want to show knowledgeable respect and gratitude so I would massively appreciate feedback concerning cultural relevance, symbolism, respect, and appreciation.

I want to do this right and if that isn't possible I won't do it at all.
Thank you.
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Old 04-16-2020, 04:32 PM   #2
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You're better off by illustrating a Southern Straight dancer from the Arapaho and/or Cheyenne tribe walking along an Oakland street with your street poles.

Your first illustration is uninviting.
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Old 04-16-2020, 04:56 PM   #3
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Appreciate the feedback. If I may ask, what about it is uninviting to you(I am not disagreeing with you just looking for constructive criticism)?

Also, (just in case it is the drawing style that comes across as uninviting) please note that it just a thumbnail sketch in sharpie to get the idea across, it is by no means a finished illustration which would be more lifelike and colored.

Thank you
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Old 04-16-2020, 05:34 PM   #4
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I haven't had time to read There There yet. SO, I'm mostly working from the reviews that made me buy the book. ( I do know powwows.com is mentioned in the text, LOL.)

First, I'm not sure why you made the face so old. It looks like the crying Indian in the 1970's anti-littering ads. Really, there actually are young Indians.

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My idea for a cover was to incorporate the road signs mentioned in the novel into a recognizable design that illustrates what the book is about (as Oakland is in itself a character and crucial part of the story as is made obvious by the book's prelude).
So, the "recognizable design" linked to the story content is the "I is for Indian" image of an old man in a headdress. I'm not trying to be disrespectful, but can you see what a stereotype that is?

One of the major themes of the novel is urban Native identity, complete with feelings of inauthenticity. Yet you use an image strongly associated with Native people in the past. The street signs aren't enough to convey ambiguity and rootedness of urban Native experience.
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Old 04-16-2020, 05:59 PM   #5
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Thanks for your input, what you've said actually makes a lot of sense and is helping me learn slowly but surely. I have a couple follow up questions...

If I were to change the older man placeholder with a more youthful and currently accurate depiction, would the design then be strong enough to consider working on?

Also, I have been working on another design after seeing your feedback and - though I find less visually interesting from a design standpoint - I think is more acceptable. What do you think?

Thanks again I truly appreciate any teaching I can get since I clearly know so little.
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Old 04-17-2020, 10:44 AM   #6
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Have you ever seen an actual real immature golden eagle feather ?
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Old 04-17-2020, 11:05 AM   #7
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I like the map better. But, it is awfully close to the illustration currently used on the book. And as WD pointed out you might need to look at real eagle feathers. The current feather looks like the cheap turkey feather fakes sold in craft stores.

If you don't have ready access to feathers, despair not. FWS has a feather atlas:

Accipitridae feathers

Or you could draw on Wanjica's idea. Rather than a feather use an outline of a dancer.
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Old 04-18-2020, 11:25 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DDLF View Post
Hi, I am an illustration Student from Colorado and have been assigned to design a cover for a book. My chosen book is '[I]There There[I]' by Tommy Orange which centers around urban Indians in Oakland, California.

My idea for a cover was to incorporate the road signs mentioned in the novel into a recognizable design that illustrates what the book is about (as Oakland is in itself a character and crucial part of the story as is made obvious by the book's prelude).

So, I came up with attached design (shown by rough sketch) to show how connected people, culture, and location are - playing off of the idea of feathers being replaced by the road signs that were 'earned' throughout the story.

I want to stress that I confess to my own ignorance and have being my best to research and learn. I want to show knowledgeable respect and gratitude so I would massively appreciate feedback concerning cultural relevance, symbolism, respect, and appreciation.

I want to do this right and if that isn't possible I won't do it at all.
Thank you.
Why did you copy the Statue of Liberty?
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Old 04-20-2020, 02:00 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe's Dad View Post
Why did you copy the Statue of Liberty?
Sorry I am confused by this response...
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Old 04-20-2020, 02:02 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OLChemist View Post
I like the map better. But, it is awfully close to the illustration currently used on the book. And as WD pointed out you might need to look at real eagle feathers. The current feather looks like the cheap turkey feather fakes sold in craft stores.

If you don't have ready access to feathers, despair not. FWS has a feather atlas:

Accipitridae feathers

Or you could draw on Wanjica's idea. Rather than a feather use an outline of a dancer.
Thank you for your helpful and constructive criticism. The feather point I will take into account and look to create a more accurate representation.

I am leaning more towards a dancer motif now, thank you for being actually helpful and respectful and not just jumping into offense. It really helps me understand and learn to better treat the sunject matter that I have been given.
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