Meet Alex: You, Me, Him, Her, Them.

As we get ready to wash away the remaining stains of BLOOD: Life Uncut we wanted to find out a bit more about the lead image for the season which has been turning heads since day one. Nestor Pestana, artist and graphic designer behind this striking image told us a bit more about who Alex is. 

 

Meet Alex. No gender or sexual preference. No unique identity, no skin colour. Alex is you, her, him, them.

Image from Tabulae Anatomicae by Giulio Casserio. Venice, 1627

Alex was created as a contemporary, living character, with a strong attitude towards life, but also a character which draws on historical medical illustrations, such as this one by Giulio Cesare Casseri. Anatomical illustrations often show human characters cut open with their insides showing, but still jarringly alive.

 

Alex too is alive and looks directly into the viewer’s eyes. With two fingers to his neck someone is taking his pulse, but it is up to the viewer to decide who that may be. Is it Alex or someone else? Do we need others to confirm ourselves as alive or is this a power that the individual possesses and can give to themselves?

 

The process of making Alex involved research and brainstorm sessions that I had the pleasure of having with Science Gallery London, visualizing outcomes with quick sketches and annotations that were then shared and discussed.

 

 

A series of studies were then developed to understand what Alex would look like with the veins covered, which then helped to map the main veins according to the structure and angle of the head.

 

 

The process undertaken in the next phase required scientific research into the anatomy of the human head, veins and arteries to get the right proportions. Different variations were produced in order to get to the final version.

 

        

The resulting graphic expression of the drawing helped remove the illustration from a complete scientific context, making it more accessible to a wider audience but still conforming with the real anatomy.

Alex’s identity goes beyond taxonomies and classifications. It is an identity which addresses the visceralities that unite us all. Blood makes us function, it keeps us alive, it makes us faint, feel disgust, fear, pain, aversion. In essence, the blood that pumps through Alex's veins, and through each of us symbolises what it is to be human.

Nestor Pestana is the graphic designer who created the lead image for BLOOD: Life Uncut - you can see more of his work at his website nestorpestana.co.uk. BLOOD is still going, with Period Piece. Dr. Alana Harris has even written a blog explaining a bit more about what Period Piece is!