Based on the story of Rapunzel, Freedom is the sixth piece in the Dystopian Fairy Tale series. I originally wanted to go with a sci-fi theme that expressed my weariness of the condos that are quickly populating the skyline around me. I had imaged an urban environment that was inspired by Ghost in the Shell (the 1995 anime), more specifically the scene where Motoko Kusanagi stands on top of a building overlooking the streets of the city from a bird’s eye view. Unfortunately the urban, sci-fi Rapunzel concept didn’t quite pan out because I think I was forcing my point of view into an illustration rather than leaving room for interpretation.  

It was back to the drawing board and I asked myself, what is the core emotion that I’m trying to convey and how does this relate to Rapunzel? I wanted to capture the mixed feelings of awe and suffocation that I had towards the towering condos and the contradictions of freedom and entrapment that stem from isolation. I restarted the drawing with an empty mind and worked more abstractly.  The rocky, spire shapes eventually emerged from a mass of scribbles and I instinctively knew they belonged to the dystopian world of my imagination.  

Throughout the process, I also struggled with finding a way to include red. So far all of the pieces in the series has a spot of red but I was willing to break the rules if it didn’t contribute to storytelling. At one point, I experimented with having a red moon which lead me to develop the lighting concept more throughout the illustration. The red light created an ominous glow to the image and added more weight to the theme. Diverging from previous illustrations in the series, the red is better integrated into the composition by affecting the environment rather than just serving as an accent. I’m excited by this new direction as I think it pushes the dystopian theme further and adds both spatial and conceptual depth to the world that I’m exploring.

Freedom (11″ x 14″ Illustration, Digital) by Angela Zhang

4 thoughts on “Freedom

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