The story behind 'Allfather'.

When I was commissioned by my dear friend

Tre Heckerman for an illustration of Odin, the Allfather of Norse Mythology, I knew the result was going to be something special. Not only am I a ridiculous mythology nerd (they were the first superheroes, after all). But Tre had given me carte blanche on both content and the time necessary to create the piece. i.e. I could pour as much ink into this piece as necessary and the efforts were already paid for.

I started by finding the perfect Odin. I wanted this illustration to be unique, so I discarded the more common ideas of a sagely king, or an elderly warrior past his prime. This is a god feared by all other gods, and I wanted to portray that in the piece. I went in search of a Strong Man, in his prime, who looked not only like he could conquer the world; but that he already had. I found the perfect depiction of this in Chris (@gingerbeardbarbell on Instagram).

This is when everything fell into place. Using photo-realism I drew the basic photo negative of Chris’ form, then added armor and period clothing I had found in research, adorning it with runic specific to Odin, strength, and wisdom. Then I drew in the forest. I always enjoy illustrating trees. There’s an ‘Evil Dead’ sort of love that goes into these; always a little twisted, a little haunted. And I think, in this case, that contrasts the peaceful, reserved posture of Odin extremely well. Even in what would be, to anyone lesser, an intimidating wood, Odin is wholly confident and comfortable in his domain.

Then the raven. Though Odin of course has two, Muninn and Huginn. I chose to go the more traditional route in this sense and illustrated only Muninn as he represents Odin’s memory and (in my mind) would always be kept close. Whereas Huginn would be off-canvas, somewhere seeking or watching as he represents the all-father’s active thoughts. 

Lastly, I added the color splash of Odin and Muninn’s matching eyes. And, of course, Odin’s tattoos. The end result being something wholly unique that Tre, Chris, and myself could all be proud of having on each of our walls. 

I wonder, what do you think of the piece? And what is more important to you in a commission; detail, breadth, or expediency?



- Z.