There’s an appealing aesthetic to old-fashioned natural science illustrations, so when Katrina McHugh was looking for a subject for the 100 Day Project, she looked to a set of vintage encyclopedias that she had inherited from her grandfather as inspiration.
The 100 Days Project comes from designer Elle Luna, who challenged creators to take create something new for 100 days, between April and July of this year. The goal wasn’t exactly a finished product: it was “showing up day after day.”
That was the start of over a year and a half of work in McHugh’s 100 Days of Lyrical Natural Sciences series. Each piece in the series is consists of lyrics from a pop culture song, reimagined as an infographic in the style of classical nature science illustrations. For example, Elton John’s “Rocket Man” is depicted with a picture of Mars, annotated as “Not a place to raise your kids” and “cold and hell,” while “Pictures of You” by The Cure uses comparative scales and graphs to interpret the words to text. It’s a unique style, and each piece — whether obvious at first site, or needing a bit of thinking to figure out — offers a fun interpretation of the songs.
McHugh described the use of song lyrics as coming naturally from “how often people will use references to nature to describe feelings that they have, or emotions, and in songs especially.” She also described the project as a way for her to reconnect with actually creating art for herself, something that she’d been less able to do as client work and the management of her design studio had began to demand more of her time.
Despite the original hundred-day basis of the project, McHugh has been at it for far longer — roughly 525, by her estimate — but recently finished the final 100th graphic in the series a few weeks ago. McHugh does plan on more lyric-based personal projects going forward, although she’s “thinking of taking a different angle from natural sciences” for the future.