The Zebra – the Epitome of Graphic Design

I’ve always seen the zebra as the epitome of graphic design – it has all the elements – line value, diagonals, white space…

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I was a Fine Art major in college. My emphasis was on life drawing. We would spend hours doing “contour drawings” where we would draw to actual contours of a model, never lifting the pencil from the paper. The idea was that when completed the dimensional shape would be evident in your drawing. Sometimes it was successful, sometimes not so much.

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I experimented with sumi brushes making the lines thick and thin in order to show depth along with contour and I was a bit more successful with that method in creating something that was closer to being art and not just an exercise.

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None of my experiments even approached the success of the lines of the Zebra – curving over the curved parts, widening over the wider parts – unfurling like the waves of a striped flag in the breeze.

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It’s the ultimate use of negative space – show just the white on black and it’s all there, show the reverse and its design is just as successful.

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How amazing is it that these stripes serve as camouflage in an environment made up of golds and browns. A brown and gold striped horse on the African plains would have been just as successful, yet this bold design works just fine in the presence of color blind predators.

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Super-clean lines, completely functional design, bold styling – just perfect.

These Grant’s Zebras are a part of the herd living at the Promised Land Zoo just north of Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

Are There Fallow Deer in the Promised Land?

Yesterday on a lark I decided to visit a local attraction called the Promised Land Zoo. I live near a tourist destination and its surrounded by attractions. Having grown up in the ultimate tourist destination, Las Vegas, I’m typically skeptical of attractions – but this one did not disappoint. It had a sweet petting zoo at the entrance followed by a driving tour that covered over 100 acres. Hundreds of animals graze in the open fields of the meadows below the highway entrance. I was especially taken with the fallow deer.

Fallow deer are native to Eurasia and have been exported to every continent with the exception of Antarctica. They are relatively small – except for the older bucks they are about the size of a large goat.

There are 4 varieties of fallow deer. This guy is one of the common variety. He approached the driver’s side of my jeep, looked me in the eye…

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Then bowed and raised his head up high.

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He bowed and raised his head over and over until we moved on.

It is said that the Romans imported fallow deer to Europe and the Normans brought them to Britain.

These are the menil variety, they have spots like the fawns of the American whitetail all summer long no matter their age. The white spots mimic the play of light through the trees in the woods. These make up the largest portion of the herd at the zoo.

These young fawns seemed to have a natural curiosity about the jeep. They did not rush over towards the jeep, but they did start wandering my way each time I stopped the vehicle.

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The young bucks have simple spikes for the first couple of years.

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After their third year they develop palmate antlers similar to those on caribou.

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All of the adult males seem to have this same curved neck that resembles an Adam’s apple.

There are historic herds of fallow deer in Sweden that date back to the 1600’s.

This buck is of the menalistic variety. He approached the passenger side eagerly. He stopped short about 6 feet from the jeep and started to throw poses my way.

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The approach…

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The stare down…

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The profile…

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Turning on the charm.

The fourth variety is leucistic – a white variety that is not albino.

Seeing this buck lying on the grass it occurred to me that these deer look like something out of a renaissance etching or coat of arms. They are small and approachable, but they are almost regal. Large piercing eyes, huge antlers, and a dramatic and curvy shape. To my American eye they seem just a bit exotic.

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I read last night that they are easily tamed…

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Driving through this herd I would not call them tame, but they are quite curious…

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I was in their territory, so they walked over to check me out…

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And calmly looked me over.

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There is something sweet about their nature. They don’t seem to be on alert like the local white tails.

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This is a nursing fawn in the petting area. She is bottle fed and is incredibly tame….

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When she grows up she will rejoin the herd in the Promised Land.