How an Annual 2021 winner illustrated 124 creatures in 97 days | #AnnualSpotlight

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There are many things that creativity gives and takes, but two of the most important requirements to success are indisputable commitment and passion. One can hardly say Laimutė Varkalaitė is lacking in either of those.

Across some hefty 13 weeks, 97 days to be precise, the illustrator carefully researched and visualised at least one creature of myth for every main country in the world, resulting in a stunning total of 124 original characters. The final work is nothing short of stunning, displaying a level of commitment that demonstrates exactly what it takes to win an award for groundbreaking work – and well worthy of a Bronze in our competitive Annual 2021 Illustration category.

In this Annual 2021 Spotlight, we are learning more about World of Cryptids with a much talented illustrator, who bewitched us all with the beauty of the work below.

View The Annual 2021 Winners!


Tell us about your winning submissions! What do you think impressed the judges?

World of Cryptids is the most challenging project I have ever created. The aim of the project was to research and visualize one mythological creature of each country, to show their variety and uniqueness. My mission was to illustrate 124 original characters, to create 75 of their adaptations, as well as the maps, supplementing them with a decorative typeface. The work that lasted over 13 weeks and was accomplished in 97 days was a great challenge to all the team. 

The project was developed in several steps:

  1. The research. Finding out what mythical creatures live in every country of the world;
  2. The result of the research. Systemizing the research material and finding out which one of the creatures is most representative of a particular country;
  3. The creative process. Stylizing the characters and finalizing their presentation in the following sequence: 
    1. A quick sketch of the character;
    2. A line drawing;
    3. Drawing filled with tones in grayscale;
    4. A grayscale illustration covered in colors.
  4. The result. 124 original characters and 75 adaptations, 7 maps and a set of decorative letters.

The essential features of the graphic style:

  • The linear drawing of the characters is based on a logical construction: the lines meet each other and lead the eyes along the silhouette;
  • Characters look like small sculptures. Such an impression is conveyed by a combination of geometric forms, the graphic features of academic drawing, and by rendering the characteristics of certain materials, such as, iron and gypsum;
  • Each cryptid resembles a sign and can be well identified in small size;
  • All characters conclude a unified set of cryptids.

Projects like this are a unique opportunity to find out new things about the cultures of the world, increase one’s knowledge, improve one’s artistic skills and discover something amazing that would serve as an inspiration for the future. I am so excited to share this work and tell others about it. It is good to know that since its first publication on the client’s ‘SavingSpot’ blog it has widely spread on other websites. And now people from around the world can get acquainted with one most significant mythological creature of each country and in their own country as well.

I am very grateful to the judges for their attention to this project. This evaluation means that they found the valuable design and craft details of this work. And that is amazing!


What felt unique about taking part in The Annual?

It was wonderful to be a part of The Annual and to stand among so many interesting and professional works. That is a unique opportunity to get to know what projects were created last year. The Annual is like a festival which assembles the artists from all over the world and presents them through artworks. Many thanks for this opportunity.

If you could name one reason that made you choose to enter this year, what would it be?

I always approached participation in international contests with responsibility. In 2020 I had an amazing opportunity to create a great project. Big thanks to Povilas Daknys, the art director of NeoMam Studios, who invited me to join this project, to the agency NeoMam Studios and the client SavingSpot. Only when I had finished this work and created all the cryptids, maps and decorative font, I could perceive its artistic value. This is definitely one of my most meaningful works. And that was the reason why I have decided to show it to the world participating in The Annual. 

How do you plan to display your award?

I will spread the news about this award in my social media and also will share it with my closest people, who always support me and know the story of this art work. 

Will you enter again in 2022? If so, what are your hopes?

If I have a valuable project, then yes, I will. I hope to show my best and to see a lot of new projects from others as well.


What advice would you share with other agencies and individuals looking to grab an award?

Just be yourself every second while creating, discover your personal creative way, always explore the creative field, perceive yourself as part of the creative community, do your best and show your excellent work to the world!

How does winning awards such as The Annual impact your business?

This award and all the attention to this work by the jury is a very meaningful step and huge motivation to move forward. To me personally, this award proves that consistent work and well designed graphic expressions are the things which give wonderful results. Now I feel that I have done something extraordinary and I’m very thankful for this feeling! That means a lot to me.

This year’s winners are a testament to the power of creativity in hardship. How did Covid restrictions influence your winning projects and how did you approach these new challenges?

In the very beginning this situation used to be very stressful and full of uncertainty. But during this time I have learned many useful things such as to not rush, to concentrate and to create. Also, all this inspired me to write and illustrate a few stories about hope for better times. I have always wanted to create artworks which would evoke strong feelings and would motivate people to move forward whatever happens.


What are your hopes for the industry in 2022 and beyond?

I wish there were more inspiring personal projects oozing with the authentic personality of the creator. Also, I believe that the creative industry will take up more and more space in our daily lives and will become the leading part of a slow-living philosophy. Even more, I strongly believe that the time will come when more and more people will value their own lives as a creative process and themselves as its artists. I dream a world in which creativity blends with life – for everyone.

What is your most exciting project in the next year?

I am still waiting for that one :)


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