Designing my new astrology mug series turned out to be a lot more work that I thought it would be, but I managed to learn lot in the process. The “Mercury is in retrograde!” design has been selling really well, so it seemed like a natural thing to delve deeper into the cosmic gift market. I thought it would be simple enough to come up with a new design each month as the astrological signs rolled around, but when I got a wholesale order for three of each design, I was forced to speed up the original production schedule. Last week I found myself spending a massive amount of time pouring over the descriptions of each zodiac sign and trying to come up with a solid take on each of the remaining six star signs.
The design process is pretty simple: first, you do a funny drawing of the zodiac sign for the front of the mug, then you find a famous person to exemplify that sign, and finally you have to cram in some random ideas about that sign to complete the basic thesis of “this is what these people are like.” My favorite part of the process was searching for celebrities that fit the sign. Sagittarius people are born entertainers? How about Bette Midler?! Capricorns are good at following complex plans? Let’s do Buzz Aldrin! Coming up with these cartoon caricatures is one of the simple joys of being an artist. I really had fun with it (see Alice Cooper, above). But being the arbitrator of describing what somebody’s personality is like based on the day they were born was a taxing burden for me. Why? Because I don’t believe in astrology.
The thing I learned about this widely held belief system is that the verbiage used in the zodiac sign descriptions are like the ingredients used in Italian food. You start to hear the same words over and over like, “sensitive”, “passionate”, “independent”, “dependable”, etc. This is the same way you find a repetition of pasta, cheese, tomato sauce and basil in Italian cuisine. They are all more similar than they are different and we tend to gravitate towards an astrological personality trait description when it fits us. I found myself falling for the whole, “Wow! That’s just like me (or her or him)” feeling when an astrological keyword rang true for myself or someone I know. I am totally like a Libra, except for the Libra qualities that don’t fit me. I know, that’s a really Libra thing for me to say, right?
At any rate, this was a fun project to take on and I hope they end up selling well. I think this is the kind of stuff that I do best because they are warm, wacky and personal. I tried to put a “warning” joke in the spot where a right-handed person looks when they are using the mug. My favorite of these was Sagittarius where “loves adventure” is depicted by a guy skydiving into a shark’s waiting mouth. Like I said, creating these designs was a really fun project. These are for sale right now and forever in my online store and quantities are limited, of course. You can click on the thumbnail pics below to get a larger image of the designs.