Haeckel’s World

I was first drawn to Ernst Haeckel’s drawings while studying the evolution and anatomy of organisms in Oxford. While informative, there was a certain magic to his work I hadn’t seen with other scientific illustrators. It was as if I had been transported back to the world of 19th century Art Nouveau with its organic lines and unruly representation of nature.

Ernst Haeckel print

Ernst Haeckel was a biologist and philosopher from the 19th century who discovered, described and drew thousands of new species. He was prolific in his work and made great contributions to science, yet his illustrations are so much more than a documentation of organisms. They capture the symmetry and incredible detail of life in a way that has them dancing across the page.

Ernst Haeckel Natascha Mehrabi

Most inspiring about his work was the way in which he brought the strange, the microscopic and the unheard-of organisms into the homes of designers and artists everywhere. At a time when science was stuck in the physics and equations of animals, Haeckel provided a picture of Nature’s entirety, inspiring creators from all disciplines to do the same.

Natascha Mehrabi illustration

I wanted to base my first collection on oceanic organisms. Even today, the world beneath the waves remains a mystery to us in so many ways. As Haeckel had done, I wanted to bring life and beauty to some of the lesser-known species. I drew inspiration from many of his plates; trying to balance the scientific accuracy with organic flow of lines.

Natascha Mehrabi illustration

The process was one of great concentration, drawing thousands of tiny dots and lines to try and capture the energy and movement of each organism was a challenge, an exciting one. As each organism came to life on the page and ultimately on the swirling silk it was magical.

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