It's that time again. And, did it ever come fast. I have designed a calendar four years in a row now and every year at the end of the summer, I think, what is it going to be? Designing a theme around totem animals has been on my mind since last fall 2009.
This years felt like it had to be more conceptual and also have a narrative feeling while staying refined and simple. Illustrating totem animals and their symbolic meaning fast became a passion of mine. I love animals, surprise, right? The thing is, I wanted more than the animal in the design. I wanted to give people something to get curious about, connect to, and investigate within themselves. We all know it has been a trying two years in the world and everywhere I go people are looking for answers. Whether it be in a job, partner, their health, trip, etc. Point being, animals have a way of showing up repetitively for us but often we miss the signs. And, the meaning of it all can be very revealing and healing.
For three years I saw snakes quite a bit. Every time I walked the Erie Canal near my house I saw a snake. I saw a green one in Raleigh, NC last year and one in Topanga, CA two years ago. Then, they came to me in books or magazines. After, the snake, herons. One flew in front of my car on the way back from a yoga class on a very trying day. Then, one practically landed by my side on the canal. I do not believe in coincidences either. I was having a very hard time when these herons showed up. They are peacemakers. They are steady on their own two feet and in those moments during their appearance, those are the things I was searching for and trying to embrace.
When these animals show up, especially during times of deep introspection, we can look at their grace, strength, adventure, and demeanour to perhaps find answers on our path. One of the most intense run ins I had recently was with none other than a red fox. Back in June this year I saw a fox in nature for the first time in my life. I had already been drawing the red fox and then boom, he showed up alongside the road one day and stopped, turned directly around, and stared at me. When the animal connects to you this strongly, according to Native American beliefs, it goes into you. You inherit its spirit.
Another example I have of an animal showing up at a very auspicious moment was two days before the 2010 National Stationery Show I saw a small turtle and then a huge one walking towards the water. The turtle symbolizes slow and steady. I stood still and watched it swim and thought, yes, I need to slow down and take each moment with ease right now. The turtle is also good luck. I had a great show so thank you Mr. Turtle!
When the animal shows up less, the lesson may be learned or another lesson may be at play. At any rate, pay attention, do some research, and see what comes up for you. Totem animals are different than spirit animals in that your totem animal shows up all the time. Spirit animals may come and go.
This calendar is very special to me and I hope you love it. Each of the seven designs (including the cover) double as a lovely limited edition 5x7 or 6x6 print. More information on the calendar below. And a HUGE thanks to Carrie at Boxcar Press, located right in my studio building, all 30,000 square feet of their space, for rocking it out on the Vandercook by hand. No automatic buttons. She worked her butt off!!!
“Totem Animals at Play.”
Written by Tara Hogan, INK+WIT
Full size: 6″ × 11″ / 7 prints total to frame (5×7 or 6×6) / enclosed in an archival clear cello sleeve and packaged in a muslin bag with a fox gift hang tag / Locally letterpress printed on a Vandercook by Boxcar Press (sustainable practices used ) / 100% cotton paper made from tree free fibers
The calendar also comes wrapped in the new Foxy Friends in Paris gift wrap.