Bears have been on my mind lately; surfacing a lot in my sketchbook and in new prints. Back in February I created a collaborative blog post about book collections, printed pages & the places we keep them, and since then I’ve been looking forward to doing another. With bears on the brain, I asked artists and bear lovers to submit a image, photo or poem (along with a quote if they like) about their love for these adorable mammals. Bears: a source of endless furry fascination, wondrous creatures steeped in folklore, myth and history, majestic beings of exceptional size, strength and stature. They are an animal that everyone has had an intimate experience with: as little children gripping tight to stuffed teddys or as adults marveling in a wild bears’ power and beauty. How can you not love these incredible beings?My ‘submission,’ (apart from the title picture at the beginning of the post) is featured below… I am in the midst of creating and producing a line of notebooks and stationery to sell on my etsy shop, and the other night, I finished printing my second edition of original hand-printed moleskine journals. This newly finished edition is part of the series which is first inspired by pattern/texture and then paired with animals (the deer with a filigree heart was the first edition). Why am I talking about my moleskine prints? Well, because this new edition’s animal is, of course, A BEAR! A circular pattern that resembles pores, micro-organisms, etc is printed as the background in a bright red ink onto the kraft brown cahiers. A gorgeous black and white grizzly bear stares upward curiously at the hovering black circular pattern. I’m just as happy with this set as I was with the deer edition. I can’t wait to print more animals and soon have people lovingly jot down thoughts, feelings and sketches inside these one of a kind notebooks.
Now that I’ve broken the ice, so to speak, please meet a few more fantastic bear lovin’ artists and friends who were kind enough to participate in this collaborative post:“My only personal experiences with seeing bears is in a zoo or in a documentary. In both scenarios I’ve been truly captivated by their large forms, strength, coordination, playfulness and intelligence. My fondest bear memory is of a polar bear swimming at a Zoo, playful and seemingly happy. Rolling in the water, pushing off the glass near the spectators and jumping in the water with such enthusiasm. Ideally, all animals should be in their natural habitat, so I find documentaries the most fulfilling viewing experience. One of my favourite documentaries showed a mother and her two cubs emerging from their den. The mother was teaching the cubs how slide down a steep slope and it reminded me of kids tobogganing after the first big snowfall. The documentary also brought attention to the effect global warming has on their survival and how vulnerable these strong creatures are. In both memories I find a human connection to these animals which deepens my love and reverence.” –Jeannine Saylor (aka @Saylor_made) “In the world of animals, bears represent stability and strength, yet they also stand for innocence. They are cuddly yet ferocious and it is this duality that draws me to them. Bears have a history of appearing in the folklore of various cultures such as “East of the Sun and West of the Moon,” and “Bearskin”. In many bear stories the beast represents something that is not as ferocious as it first appears, but is a complex character misjudged by its rough exterior. Many of us don our own mangy bearskins in an act of preservation, yet, like the beasts of these folktales, we all hope that someone will see through our protective hide for what we really are and love us for it.”-Melissa Mandel – Allison Braun (aka @goatnglory) “Black Bears are sweet and curious animals. They have color vision and eat mostly berries and nuts. Go bears.” – Johnny Dimas (aka @Federales) “I put this together from a sequence of photographs I snapped at Berlin Zoo and I’m quite pleased that I did it all by my big self. I could watch him all day. I find it difficult to put into words why I love bears. They’re so amazing and majestic and have the most adorable wee ears. Looking at photographs of them never fails to make me smile, which is why I collect and save the best images for my bear Tumblelog” –Michelle Ashton (aka @zbyshka) “I’m thinking this is the start of a whole stamp series of bears. They are such beautiful animals. Sun Bears are my favourite of all bears. They’re found it various parts of South East Asia and spend much time in trees. A gorgeous orange yellow fur patch round their neck means they don’t need to shop for bling. Numbers are declining due to horrendous actions such as poaching them for fur and bile (the bile is for medicine despite there being a synthetic substitute). Panda’s are of course well known. There is no question that they are adorable. But short of thick rimmed glasses and a pocket protector – I can’t draw them with anything but vacant stare. Pandas are an endangered species. They have a low birth rate and can’t contend with the loss of habitat. These stamps are based on my illustrations & are hand carved from soft rubber.” –Chantal Vincent (aka @Chantal_Vincent) & her etsy “I’ve only ever seen bears in the zoo ,where they always look rather sad. I’d like to think of them escaping into the world and enjoying life. I imagine they’d spend their time having parties and watching Harry Potter movies. They would probably just wander about looking for a cave to sleep in but you never know.”-Helen MacDonald (aka @JollyGoodStudio) Dionne Kitching (aka @dionnekitching) “I quickly managed to knock something together between my uni work, saw your post re-tweeted by a friend, so i decided to give it a go. The words in the bear say ‘big cuddly warm best friend'” –Stuart Herrington (aka @sherrington) “So I lived in Yosemite National Park for four years. We know all the typical bear residents & name them. (Deer, too, & squirrels….well, the animals are one of the main sources of entertainment) (Anyway…) One day the shuttle bus comes up to a stop & there is Shatze, a huge golden brown bear sitting on the bench, eating potato chips out of the bag, just like one of the tourists. The bus driver stopped, opened the door & called out the stop. All the tourists on the bus went a little nuts, either from fear or else got crazy with the camera. Shatze intelligently decided to wait for the next bus. Isn’t nature great!?” –Kye Sangha (aka @kyesangha) & her shop –Iona Bruce (aka @iheartdotdotdot) –Harriet Gray (aka @harrietgray) & her etsy–Mariana Lobao (aka @minawolf) –Eurico Sá Fernandes (aka @heurico) “Growing up I would stay alone, I could never get along with my family so I spent much time playing with stuffed animals. Making up stories with them, we even made planets and guilds. It was an entire universe. I credit my teddies for expanding my imagination, making me believe in the supernatural. Bears sure have a soothing effect, warm and strong and somehow a supportive illumination coming from them. They’re just wicked-best.” –Thuraya Lynn (aka @thurayalynn) –Michelle Lasalvia (aka @pirichi) “Ode to the bears that stole my loaf of bread when I was camping. They snuck up behind me while I was playing cards with my brothers. I heard a plastic bag rustle, turned & saw the pair high-tailing it into the darkness.” –Anika Starmer (aka @aisforanika) “Panda bears, brown bears, polar bears, gummi bears. I love them all!” –Krispy Alz (aka @kangaru) “Bears are funny and majestic at the same time and for that, they rock. Also, I can relate to their ginormous appetites : ) This drawing is inspired by the state flag of California, where I currently reside – but here, the bear is facing the opposite direction as he is already on his way back from IN-N-OUT, a popular West Coast (and my favorite) burger place.” –Toni Rica (aka @tonirica) “Say “hello” to Bernard the Bear!” –Brigette Poniewaz (aka @enchatedowls) “You can use those little bears i sent you in mail art! I saw a baby bear in yosemite & he was so cute & playful. <3” –Kimi Kobashi (aka @kimikobashi) –Marcus Jackson (aka @luckyjackpress)
Thanks so much for reading, and an extra big thank you to all the bear lovers who participated! Your bear loving comments are welcome and encouraged. Please do visit the linked websites of artists whose work you really enjoyed or connect with them via twitter.