space race

Space Ape, illustration by ciro correia

Ham was the first chimpanzee (hominid) shot into space, it was 1961. Laika, a Russian street dog, was the first animal shot into orbit four years before Ham. Shortly after Ham had made his historic flight into space (January 1961) the Soviet Union launched Yuri Gagarin (April 1961) into orbit in the Vostok 1. The 'space race' was in full swing. Who won the space race is less important than the potential mankind unlocked by venturing beyond the limits of our atmosphere. The words 'Space Ape' can be interpreted in many different ways. One could take it as a reference to Ham but the meaning that was in my mind when I drew and created this poster illustration had to do with the collective us - mankind. We're hominids, part of the ape family. Over the course of our history we have looked upward to the stars, and beyond, and dreamt of ascending into those heavens. The fact that we, earth bound apes, managed to leave the confines of our natural habitat and go as far as the moon is an insanity worthy of awe- if we bother to think about it. On the other hand we haven't exactly had a good track record for being the wisest and most enlightened creatures on Earth, and that's probably why this 'Space Ape' carries a hint of malice in his eyes. Is the universe really ready for territorial, at times homicidal, and materialistic 'naked' apes who managed to learn how to harness the power of 'fire' and make their way into the heavens? We are space ape, with the power to soar - the power to cause great good or despicable evil.

Other worthy mentions- if you search space ape, by the way, are: The spaceape - the late Stephen Samuel Gordon, British poet and MC. I found one of his interviews online and it was an interesting read. Another interesting discovery when searching space ape is the amazing Space ape games based in London. Makers of Samurai Siege and Rival Kingdoms. Hopefully the third interesting discovery when searching space ape will be this blog post. :)

Final illustration with type design

Final illustration

Process from initial exploratory sketches, thumbs to final. ;)

Thumb-sketches and brainstorming

rough sketches

Moleskin, Cosmonaut sketch. by ciro correia

I was not part of the generation which watched the first manned space rockets soar into space. Those gigantic missiles aimed into the inky blackness beyond our blue skies. How starry eyed dreamers must have followed their ascent as they thundered upwards and pushed past the forces that keep our feet firmly on the ground.  I was not part of the generation that witnessed man's first walk on the moon. I came afterwards, into a world already changed by incredible acts of courage. I'm not American so I guess I don't have any sense of patriotism when I think of these spacemen. I don't think of them as American or Soviet. I think of them as human, like me. That's how I saw them as a child, they represented what I too could achieve. They ignited my belief in myself. The thing is, even though the astronauts achieved far greater things than their Soviet counterparts it was the Soviets who got the whole thing going back in 1957. Visually the cosmonauts somehow standout more vividly in my memories. Why is it that? Is it the strange design of their space crafts, spacesuits and satellites that captures the imagination more? There's something different and special in some Soviet designs that stand out as unique, original. 

The British Science Museum in London is currently hosting an exhibition called the 'Cosmonauts'. It's a cool visit if you have the chance. We went there a few weeks back and it is one of the best Museum type places I've been to.

Here's a sketch from my moleskin inspired by the cosmonauts.

Moleskin, Cosmonaut Sketch - Copic Marker, pencil, pen and ink.