Discover the mysteries of the zodiac and their power to inspire creativity with these original horoscope illustrations
Mankind is on a permanent quest for meaning. Throughout history, we have searched for a way to understand the vast mystery we call life. To do so, we have often looked to the stars to tell us more about ourselves, our destiny, our character, and to make sense of an often chaotic world.
It is this need for understanding that contributed to the emergence of Western astrology. The Western zodiac, whose signs make up the horoscope we still use to this day, was created in around 1,000 B.C. (some say even earlier, in Mesopotamia). From there it spread to Egypt, where it was taken up by the Greeks, and then the Romans.
The 12 signs themselves have changed their meaning and form over time. Sagittarius, for example, began as a judge before being turned into a centaur by the Greeks, and then adopting all kinds of animal bodies during medieval times. Nowadays, he tends to be represented as an archer, or simply a bow and arrow.
Why is zodiac a good topic for illustration?
Domestika teacher Silja Goetz (@silja) has worked as an illustrator for 20 years. Born in Germany, she studied graphic design at Nuremberg and now works in Madrid for well-known international clients including The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Penguin Random House, Vogue and Harrods.
She is passionate about turning classic subjects into surprising compositions. In her Domestika course, Zodiac Illustration: Creating A Unique Series, she demonstrates how to use the signs of the zodiac as inspiration to generate a fresh perspective on a familiar idea.
Goetz believes that a series, such as the 12 signs of the zodiac that make up a horoscope, is an excellent starting point for practicing illustration because it gives you a set of rules or parameters within which to explore ideas and expand your style.
Choosing a series you find particularly inspiring makes it easier to be creative and gives your work a clear focal point. Any rules or limitations you then want to set within that series are completely up to you.
Goetz finds the zodiac signs particularly appealing as a topic for illustration due to their aesthetic beauty, timeless quality, and popularity as a group of symbols.
In this article, she takes us through her favorite modern interpretations of this classic theme, which you too can use for inspiration to create your very own series of beautiful illustrations.
The examples successfully demonstrate the importance of using technique, tools, color, or particular elements such as the background or borders of a design, to achieve coherence and consistency in your series so that they have a shared identity.
Chinese-born Jasu Hu now lives in the United States where she works as a freelance illustrator. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, where she illustrated The Obama Legacy project, which won an Emmy Award for Outstanding New Approaches: Documentary.
Here she uses musical instruments and women to represent each sign of the zodiac.
Los Angeles-based artist and designer Michelle Berlin specializes in occult illustration and portraiture.
Astrology is a recurrent theme in her work.
Silja Goetz’s list provides excellent examples of how a popular theme can be re-worked in creative and original ways, but you can also choose your own series when looking to develop your unique illustration style. The important thing is to have fun and experiment with a theme you find inspiring!
If you want to know more about developing your illustration style using a classic subject, why not check out Silja Goetz’s online Domestika course Zodiac Illustration: Creating A Unique Series, where you’ll discover how to transform zodiac symbols into fresh and interesting compositions, while maintaining consistency and harmony throughout your series.