Halloween season may be officially over, but here we like to keep the creepy vibes going all year long. This time of year it is easiest to remember that a little fear can be fun, or even beautiful. As a child, I know my fear of insects was only rivaled by my fascination with them. Today’s release of Birds n Bones final Entomology Collection could not be more perfectly timed. I’ve asked BnB’s Zoe Cope and Ashley Lagasse a few questions about bugs and this amazing new collection. First, however, we’ll be showing you a couple artists who find inspiration in nature, insects, and their own fears.
Takumi Kama is a Japanese painter known for his realistic, 3D style. His work seamlessly blends the natural and the man-made. It is also heavily influenced by his fears. We were drawn to his imaginary insects; leaf insects adapted to an apocalyptic future in which their natural environment was gone. The Hide-mushi eats and is designed to blend in with Japanese currency. Comi-mushi is similar, but hides in the paper of comic books instead. These imaginary insects don’t just speak to a frightening future, but also to survival, adaptation, and resilience.
Jennifer Parks is an illustrator and co-owner of the Pony Club Gallery in Portland, Oregon. She creates stunning graphite works that depict animals, plants, and spirits. Most striking to me personally, are her portraits of female figures. I would almost be tempted to call them cute, if they didn’t also look so incredibly powerful. These images often juxtapose seemingly disparate elements; vulnerability and strength, innocence and wisdom; but I think we have all encountered instances in our own lives where these feelings have existed in us simultaneously. Her work is a gorgeous outward manifestation of inner emotional life, so I was not shocked to read on her website that she is heavily influenced by her dreams of “ghosts, giants, flying, and often the end of the world.” You can check out, and shop, more of her work here.
All this talk of art shaped by nature and darkness will sound familiar if you’ve been following Birds N Bones. Our founders, Zoe Cope and Ashley Lagasse, have always said we represent the dark side of nature. In the recent insect collections, they were able to draw inspiration from creatures who are often unnecessarily feared. I asked them a few questions about the journey to the final insect collection.
Courtney Goe: Now that the final collection has released, how did you feel about doing the unique mini releases that lead up to it?
Ashley Lagasse: I really loved this process. It gave us intervals to either pull or change a piece for the final collection based on our customer's purchases and feedback. That way we aren't wasting our resources on buying a bulk of supplies for pieces that really won't do well.
Zoe Cope: I also loved doing the mini collections- they really helped us create a collection that our clients actually desire. We were even able to mail back castings of designs we decided to retire to have them re-melted. We were able to save money and time in the long run by doing more work upfront.
CG: What was the best-selling piece from these collections?
ZC: The Darkling Beetles were the most popular collection. I think this happened because their size is small so they don't read as bugs right away. They're subtle so they are easy to fold into your everyday jewelry arsenal.
CG: What are each of your favorite pieces from the bug collections and why?
AL: My favorite is the Weevil Pendant with Stone Bottom. The marriage of the labradorite body and silver weevil head just makes my heart swoon.
ZC: I love the Pincher Head Studs... and the Twig Studs hahaha. The Pincher Heads are great because the pinchers criss cross and the overall shape is really interesting. The Twig Studs rock since they are simple and light, yet interesting because of their texture. Plus, the two of them look rad together.
CG: If you had to create an imaginary bug like Takumi Kama does, what would the bug be and why?
AL: I would based my design off of the Brazilian Treehopper, just because they are just so otherworldly and bizarre. Seriously look them up, they look like Walt Disney and H.R. Giger had a bug baby.
ZC: I think I'd do one based off of a praying mantis, specifically the Idolomantis Diabolica- those babies are already so otherworldly!
CG: What is your favorite part of working together?
AL: In general, the collaboration between the two of us is what I love. Not a day goes by where we don't text, call, or email each other. We wear every single damn hat in our own company. Whether its design, market strategy, material sourcing, finance, manual labor, or just doing our business taxes. Zoe is always there for feedback and input even though we basically have the whole United States between us.
ZC: I love the design process- it's even more fun now that we live in different states because we send each other specimens and castings that the other had only seen in photos so it's kinda like Christmas every time we get a package from each other. For this collection in particular I sourced the specimens from online and in person at Paxton Gate, mailed them to Ashley who molded them (like a boss!), and then after we saw the initial castings we figured out how we needed to change them so they'd actually work with the human form. Every step is a collaboration and we get better ideas in the end because of it.
CG: Thank you both so much for your time!
It’s always wonderful to see two artists whose visions are so in sync, even more wonderful when they collaborate to make such an interesting, but wearable, Entomology Collection. Don’t miss it! Maybe wearing your own shiny bug friend will show the world there is nothing to fear after all.