Daily Draw Feburary #4: Ivy Crests and Flowers That All Look the Same
Japanese family crests (mon) are a fascinating subject for me. If you’re at all interested I can’t recommend The Elements of Japanese Design, John Dower enough. I’m certainly not the type of person who says things like, “All flowers look the same,” but I’m hardly a botany student. More to the point, when you reduce flowers to monorchrome graphic designs…well I think some confusion is unavoidable.
The first block is Ivy designs which I’ll be using in the kimono pattern. Seems the Ivy motif was a very popular among the pleasure houses so there’s a fun tie-in there; even if the plant isn’t ‘poisonous’ it has a seductive connotation.
The next block is just copies from Dower, I looked through to find flowers that were of a different species but had incredibly similar designs. Trying to identify these is a bit like looking at a police lineup and I feel like there’s the makings of a great memory game here.
Now all of those flowers of the same species of course have many different versions of themselves. Dower has thirty-five different variations on the cherry blossom and even with almost 3,000 designs the book can hardly considered to be comprehensive. But you consider how disparate those two designs are despite being the same species compared to the second set which are all different.
I bring all this up because I had this pipe-dream for the Ivy image where I was going to have every plant in the image be poisonous. There are some major problems with this plan, namely:
- It’s hard to figure out what plants that are native to Japan are poisonous
- It’s really hard to figure out what the colloquial Japanese names are for poisonous plants (seriously, what is Monkshood called in Japan?)
- It’s even harder still to find graphic representations of these plants because, and I think this is a cross-cultural thing, you don’t get a lot of imagery of poisonous plants. Who wants something poisonous for their family crest? Nobody, apparently.
I know this is another one of those, “I could just wing it and nobody would notice,” scenarios but as I’ve said before, that’s not really the point.