Jiselle Crawford - Illustration and Design

Home of the work of Jiselle Crawford: Illustrator, Designer, and Summoner of Magical Creatures

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Senior Thesis Proposal

Slide 1:  My thesis is a line of toys inspired by my fears as a child and the comfort I received from my toys and stuffed animals. I will be creating a line of ten toys designed for vinyl or plastic. Each toy will come in a box that includes a corresponding key, story, and a small basic characteristics card. These toys will be characters that serve as companions, guides and friends to the people who imagine them to be real.

Slide 2: In a parallel world alongside our own there exists magical creatures called Familiars. Familiars are created from magic by the sorcerers that inhabit that world to help and aid them. But as sorcerers grow in power they create new familiars and the old ones are often discarded or forgotten. Some Familiars will wander until they fade from despair and their form returns to the magic essence that they are created from. But some Familiars search for new purpose by risking everything to come to this world and try to find a worthy partner to carry their magic. When crossing into this world magic will draw familiars towards those who need them, which increases the chance they will be found and reawakened but there is still a risk that they will be trapped in an eternal slumber in here. When Familiars cross into this world they fall into a kind of sleep and turn into inanimate objects, because magic cannot exist as an essence within in this world and must take on a physical manifestation. Familiars’ essence manifests as a key but someone must use that key to awaken them. After they are awakened familiars also draw magic from the key to remain animated and to regain their unique powers.

Slide 3: One of the reasons the work in progress title for this toyline is Familiars is familiars in traditional myths of magic are creatures that guide and aid sorcerers or witches. During the times of witch hunts familiars were thought of as demons summoned to a witches side and seen in the form of animals, most commonly black cats. However the idea of familiars is still going strong today. Today the magical familiar can be seen in mass media as well as ancient myth and legend. In Harry Potter familiars are most commonly owls, cats, toads or the occasional rat that are also seen as pets.  The Golden Compass puts an interesting spin on the idea of the familiar in the form of an animal that exists outside of person but is also that persons’ soul. In the world of the Golden Compass every person has this out of body manifestation of a soul called a Daemon, but spelled D-a-e-m-o-n. Other modern familiars also include magical summons like the ones in Final Fantasy.

Slide 4: While different from the familiar another concept connected to it is the idea of the spirit animal or spirit guide. Growing up within the wave of New Age has shown me the draw and popularity of astrology, spirituality and a connection to nature. Spirit animals are animals that exist on another plane that can guide or aid people throughout their lives. Often spirit animals are given specific significance through symbolic meanings attached to that animal, that give them specific talents or teachings they can impart to those they guide. This way of relying on them and calling on them for wisdom and help is what makes spirit guides and spirit animals so popular.

Slide 5: For my toyline I also wanted an interactive component, preferably one that you would be able to carry with you to keep you connected with your familiar even when you can’t carry the familiar itself. I chose keys because of my own fascination with keys and locks and some of the inherent symbolism and mental connections I make when I see keys. Such as the obvious mental leaps to ideas like “the key to my power” or “to my heart” and also the idea of unlocking power from within. 

Slide 6: When I was a kid I would line my stuffed animals up along the edges of my bed and have my toys around me to protect me from whatever might be hiding in the dark just out of sight. My toys were my constant companions. I would talk with them, play with them, cry into their polyester fur and keep them close when I was afraid. They were the animals and monsters I could rely on when no one else was around. The inspiration for me wanting to create a toyline stems from that relationship that I had with my toys as a child. And around the feelings of fear and powerlessness I felt when I was small and how my toys helped me to cope with and combat it.