Monday, May 26, 2014

Find all the secret symbols hidden in these portraits of Amy & Elder!

As I mentioned in my previous post, I wanted to find an artist who could make a Mucha-style portrait of my characters. First, I just really love that style--but second, I think it lends itself to discovering characters in a particularly wonderful way. See, every little detail in a Mucha portrait is symbolic, and when we're talking about characters, a Mucha-style portrait of one will show hidden meanings.

I'm so happy that Christine Tyler was able to capture Amy and Elder so perfectly! And within each image, there is so much hidden meaning. Take a look for yourself, and see if you can see all the symbols within each image. Answers below!

Ladies first...what symbols can you see in Amy's portrait?

Click for an even larger image!

And now for Elder--do you see all the symbols?

Click image to embiggen!
Ready? Think you see all the secret symbols hidden in the image? I know that even I didn't catch all the amazing details Christine included in the portraits. Check below!





  • The flowers in her hair are amaryllises. In my very first draft of of Across the Universe, Amy's name was short for Amaryllis, and she was frozen with a flower bulb. But that was a touch too complicated for the story, so I cut it.
  • The fish in the corners symbolize Harley's nickname for Amy, Little Fish.
  • The pond in the background of the story is the pond hiding the portal to escape the ship.
  • Amy's background is green to represent phydus, likewise the edges of the circle have little splashes to represent the water laced with phydus.
  • In the icons of the circle around them are snowflakes, to represent how cold and lonely Amy was in cryogenic freezing.
  • Amy's holding a cross, to show her faith.
  • Elder is wearing the Eldest Robe, which in the book is described as having a field on the bottom fading to stars at the top. Christine went a step further and made the stars constellationally correct-- at Elder's right arm is the constellation Orion, and at his left arm is the constellation Scorpius, which chases Orion across the sky and, according to mythology, is Orion's greatest foe. This was such an amazing detail that Christine added on her own, and is just perfect!
  •  In the corner of Elder's image are rabbits, to symbolize the rabbit farms on the ship, which are featured not just in the books but are a key part of the novella, "As They Slip Away."
  • In the edges of the large circle, the image is breaking and shattering. Here's Christine's reasoning, directly from her: "Elder's is breaking/shattering because to me, his biggest moment of change was when the explosion happened on the [Eldest level,] and he had to choose to close the doors off for the great good. He also 'breaks off' from the line of Eldest."
  • And don't forget that in the background of both images are stars, which is the only level of symbolism I consciously added to the story. Stars, much like in Dante's Inferno, equal hope.
  • And on a personal note, I love that Christine took so much care to show Elder's ethnicity, and that he's not white, with features influenced by South Asian and Native American physiology.

There's one more secret to these images, and it's this: these aren't the only things Christine made for me (and you)! I'm still working with my agent and publisher on this, but hopefully you'll see some brand new characters...soon! 

Would you like your very own art cards featuring Christine's art? Well don't go away--I'll be doing a giveaway of more art cards very soon :) 

And again, make sure to check out Christine's work here:

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