Bear & Rabbit
I’m excited to present to you two new friends of mine: Bear & Rabbit! Last fall I was hired to create illustrations for a study being done through Wooster College. The client needed 2 kid-friendly animal characters interacting in 12 scenes. The study (which I’ve been given permission to talk about here on my blog) looks at students in the Autism, Aspergers, PDD-NOS spectrum, and their ability to perceive emotion through vocal cues in social situations. Each of the 12 scenes presented would show Bear in either a “happy” or “sad” social situation. A voice actor was hired to narrate and vocalize the dialogue between Bear and Rabbit. Because the study focused on vocal cues, my main character, Bear, had to show neutral facial expressions. As we moved through sketch stages, we discussed what “neutral” meant. I suggested that removing Bear’s mouth would create the desired effect. My client agreed, and the result is a character I find very endearing. Body language, posture, and Rabbit’s ear positions became the emotional storytellers of each scene. Above are a handful of my favorite illustrations from the completed project. I’ve had so much fun developing the characters, I may use them in future illustrations!
This is one of the most meaningful projects I’ve had the honor of working on for a long time. As a teacher, who often has students from the Autism spectrum in class, I find the study intriguing. Many of these students are amazing artists! Placing a pencil in their hand unlocks a window to their brain. Intricate drawings, fun characters, memorized details spill forth onto paper, developing into scenes that continually astound me! They relate through their artwork, yet they struggle to relate on a more social-emotional level. My client’s hope is that studies such as this one will expand our understanding of the difficulties these students face when interacting with peers and adults, so that we can better aid them in their social development. My hope is that studies like this will help raise awareness of and financial support for similar work that supports children and families of the Autism spectrum.