Two-Sided Welcome Bug: Jewel Scarabby Bobby Long
The Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium of Tucson, AZ commissioned a 5-foot-tall, two-sided “welcome bug” to be the first impression of the Wild World of Bugs exhibit (running 2021 to present). After sketching many insects, I chose a type of Jewel Scarab (specifically Chrysina chrysargyrea) to be the exhibit greeter, in part for the brushed copper and bright gold color scheme. These warm, metallic colors would contrast nicely with the teal color used heavily throughout the exhibit branding and signage. When coloring, I added a tinge of teal to parts of the beetle nearest the signage, as if the reflective exoskeleton were taking on color from its surroundings.
While an upright pose would have been more simple, I proposed a welcoming, asymmetrical stance for this imposing figure to engage with the viewer and to add some playful movement toward the signage and entryway. This self-assigned challenge required lots of experimentation to ensure the beetle’s anatomy and natural range of movement was not sacrificed for the added humanity.
Another challenge I put forth was striving for lots of depth. Being a two-sided image meant that each illustration would have to share the exact same silhouette. While head-on views of the beetle’s front and back would have made this easier, I opted for a natural, tilted viewing angle. This allowed me to introduce more perspective, in addition to the other “tools” of visual depth. But too much perspective on one side of the sign, however, would yield a weird, reversed perspective on the reverse side. So in a few areas, I came up with some visual tricks and illusions in order to maximize the relative depth while not breaking out of the shared silhouette.
Graphite and digital color. 41”x58”