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Beautifully haunting ribbon-effect animal portraits

Emptyland by Jaume Montserrat

We've all experienced strange dreams before. But illustrator Jaume Montserrat (opens in new tab) has taken his one step further, turning his surreal thoughts into this hauntingly evocative illustrative series, titled Emptyland. On a flight from South America to Spain, Montserrat dreamt he woke up on an unknown island, where he lived for 29 days with other animals.

"The real inspiration for this project came from books like Utopia by Tomas Moro or Island by Aldous Huxley," Montserrat explains. "It was all about the idea of creating an utopic island, where there is only one animal from each specimen, kind of like Noah's Ark, and all of them are empty, asexual and immortal. They neither need to hunt nor to be scared of being hunted so there is a perfect symbiosis."

Realising dreams

To help translate his dream into reality, Montserrat used various reference material. "For this project I used pictures that I found in books, magazines or on the internet to study the volume of each animal and to understand the proportion between them, the textures of the skins, the hair, etc," Montserrat says.

The designer then applied his own unique style to each image, using a standard black and red ballpoint pen. "The idea of the ribbon effect was to show that the animals are completely empty," he says.

The limited colour palette was also a considered choice. "Because black and red was enough to separate the interior and the exterior of any animal; the colour itself was not important," Montserrat explains.

Emptyland by Jaume Montserrat

Montserrat created each beautiful illustration simply using two standard ballpoint pens

Strange combinations

Montserrat's beautiful illustrations sees pairs of animals that would unlikely be seen in the real world, a zebra and snake and giraffe and chameleon, for example.

"I wanted to do strange combinations, to prove that on this island exists the perfect weather and space for all the animals," he says. "Finally, I mixed them in order to get different textures, sizes or tones of colour in each drawing."

"By drawing all the animals together, it shows, in this case, the perfect symbosis in which they live - how they help each other, or how they just stay together."

Emptyland by Jaume Montserrat

Emptyland by Jaume Montserrat

Emptyland by Jaume Montserrat

Emptyland by Jaume Montserrat

Emptyland by Jaume Montserrat

Emptyland by Jaume Montserrat

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Kerrie Hughes
Kerrie Hughes

Kerrie Hughes is Editor at Creative Bloq (currently on maternity leave). One of the original CB crew, Kerrie joined the team back in 2013 after moving from her role as staff writer on 3D World. Since then she's written regularly for other creative publications. Kerrie's work for Creative Bloq involves managing the team and the site's content, developing and maintaining commercial partnerships, and finding innovative ways to bring Creative Bloq's audience the content they're looking for.