(Post-dated June 18)
Hello and hey all! This post will focus on my endeavor to make the deadline for a Godzilla themed art show. I had a ton of fun working on this project because I get to be a nerd about two things – designing clothes and Godzilla! I have to admit that if you asked me if I was a Godzilla fan a few months ago, my answer would have been lukewarm about the big lizard and his cadre large brethren. How could a guy in a rubber suit kicking around toy cars be any fun or emotionally engaging? Matt’s a huge fan of the movies and has been even before we started dating. He was pretty geeked to see the new American movie coming that came out this summer. I figured I would watch a few of the staple movies in preparation for the new movie. I have to say I was sucked into those movies a lot quicker than expected. I find myself sympathizing with Godzilla (I’m sure that was intended), and getting really frustrated when he is spanked by the bad kaiju. Matt laughs at me a bit because I describe Godzilla as ‘adorable.’ Hands down though, my favorite kaiju is Mothra. Apart from being the only female monster, she’s also an Earth goddess who is heralded by a pair of fairies (I’m a girl – don’t judge). Matt even surprised me with the Rebirth of Mothra and Rebirth of Mothra II DVD so I could get my kaiju on. I love when watching kitschy movies counts as research! 😀
With the research and movies watched, I had to figure out what I wanted to make. I was originally considering making an actual dress and submitting it as a three-dimensional piece, but it seemed a bit costly and I didn’t know if I had the time. Plus the submission guidelines allowed up to 5 pieces. I figured it would be a missed opportunity to only do one piece. It’s been a while since I’d really designed anything. What a great opportunity to do something a bit high-concept and produce five new designs! I chose five of my favorite kaiju, and set to work.
The challenge with doing something like this is creating a successful garment that incorporates design aspects of the subject matter (in this case Japanese monsters) without looking too costumey. I tend to gravitate toward ‘high concept’ designs for their dramatic and technically difficult appeal. One of my ‘high concept’ influences is the late designer, Alexander McQueen. Love or hate his work, he evoked a reaction from those that saw it. He had an amazing sense of composition and structure, and his collections were presented as theatrical productions. All of his pieces told a story, pulled an emotion from you. He was a brilliant artist.
I tried to keep in mind the structure and shape he utilized while going into the design process for this project. All the Godzilla monsters have very unique design elements, and I was looking forward to seeing what I could do with them. Here are the rough sketches for the five monsters.
1. Godzilla (of course)
The coolest things about Godzilla are the shape of the spines on his back, and that bangarang atomic breath! I took the shape and the color of the breath and turned it into the skirt, while incorporating the outline of the spines in the hem, neckline and cap sleeve. In the final piece, the torso is going to be a dark brown (I hear that the official Godzilla color is ‘peat brown’).
2. King Ghidorah
A quick overview of King G, he is controlled by the civilization on Planet X. He’s basically sent to Earth to trash the place because the Xiliens want to control Earth. Ghidorah seems to be mind-controlled by outside forces for most of his appearances. Although when in his right mind, he still seem to enjoy beating the tar out of Godzilla and wreaking a fair amount of havok. Trying to envision the woman that would wear this, I couldn’t shake the idea of a Disney villianess type. I wanted to work the spines around the three heads into the wrists and neck as a design element. Plus, those gold scales are any fashionista’s dream.
This was one of the two I had the most trouble with. I was having trouble trying to incorporate the pattern of the wings, and the thorax shape without making a mascot suit. The look I landed on is reminiscent of a 1960s silhouette, with a fitted bodice and pencil skirt with built out hips to simulate the thorax. The bodice will look like Mothra’s wings.
Considered to the Devil of the kaiju world, Destoroyah was an unforeseen circumstance of the Oxygen Destroyer that was used to ‘kill’ Godzilla in 1954. Destoroyah is a group of prehistoric crustaceans that were irradiated when the device was activated. He really is just evil. Just watch the one movie they put him in, and you’ll know why. Other than being really evil, there are a lot of interesting elements on Destoroyah. There are five evolutionary stages it goes through in the coarse of a few weeks. And each form looks very different from the last. With all these interesting elements, I had a hard time figuring out what I wanted to use, and if I should stick to one form. The three elements I ended up going with were the three spikes coming off each side of the head, the crustacean plate armor and the circle bit on the sternum.
I’ll be honest. The only reason I choose this kaiju is because I saw one image and instantly had an idea. Other than Invasion of Astro-Monster (one of my favorites), I don’t think I’ve ever watched a Rodan movie. So here’s the image and my idea:
I’m pretty happy with my designs, so it’s on to finished pencils and color. I might really punish myself and do the illustrations in gouache. If you’re unfamiliar with this medium, it’s basically opaque watercolor. What that means is it is reactivated by water. All your shapes have to be deliberate, because if you go over it too much with a wet brush, the brush will move the color already on the paper.
But that is for a later post.
Project media: Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes