THE BIRDS OF SHAKESPEARE

Role/Contributions: Designer (personal project)
Tools & Technology: Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop
Date (Year): 2016

As an aficionado of the plays and sonnets of Shakespeare and of organized folly, I was delighted to learn about The American Acclimatization Society. This organization, founded in 1871, sought to introduce European plants and animals into North America -- often with disastrous results. Among their projects was to import every bird mentioned by Shakespeare in his many works. This involved almost seventy distinct species, including what are now classified as several nuisance species -- starlings, in particular.

I ended up being more attracted to the intersection of ornithology and Shakespeare's catalog. These four poster prints (poster size: 18"x26"; print size: 9"x12"; postcard size: 5"x7") represent some of the finer passages from the source texts and the birds mentioned therein.


The collection

Illustrations sourced from A History of British Birds Vol 1: History and Description of Land Birds (Longman and Co., London, 1816). Engravings by Thomas Bewick.


The common grid

The same grid was applied to all four pieces, to ensure consistency between each print.

 

Fun Fact: The American Acclimatization Society was founded in 1871, dedicated to importing "such foreign varieties of the animal and vegetable kingdom as may be useful or interesting." Its chairman as of 1877, pharmacist Eugene Schieffelin, was responsible for introducing the destructive starling colonies directly into Central Park.

The one hundred starlings released by Schieffelin have grown to a modern-day North American population currently numbering 200 million.

 


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