20 November 2023

Jesús Sotés Illustrates Stephen Fry book Mythos

Posted in: Artists, Illustration, Process, Publishing

Jesús Sotés has illustrated Mythos: The Illustrated Story by Stephen Fry, capturing the most dramatic and seminal Greek myths in dazzling colour and form. The book is a republication of Fry’s 2017 book, but this time includes Jesús’ stunning illustrations giving, arguably, the stories a modern, human feel.

We caught up with Jesús to hear how the project went.

Can you give me a rundown of the project?

I started illustrating Mythos about a year and a half ago now so it’s been a long time coming! The commission came from Jill Taylor, designer at Penguin Random House.

How did you decide on the blue and gold colour palette, and the perspective of each image?

The project was initially planned with monochrome illustrations in different inks.

The initial schedule was so tight that my mind quickly went to work finding a way to get the most out of all the illustrations.

It occurred to me that making an overprint in gold-yellow ink to highlight some elements of the illustrations and also using it in details and as a secondary or supporting colour would give the book that elegant touch so typical of books that deal with mythology.

Did you face any challenges creating them?

All projects pose challenges. An illustrated book like this one requires reflection and a lot of work. Sometimes it’s not easy to find the “tone” we were looking for.

There’s so many factors to take into account and mapping out the puzzle is not easy.

What was your favourite myth to illustrate and why?

In general, the ones I liked the most were the myths that, due to content and format, best suited my vision and were the most dramatic.
I think the musical duel between Apollo and Marsyas is a good example. I also really enjoyed illustrating Phaeton and his challenge to drive his chariot to the sun.

If you could be any mythological character, which one would you be and why?

Hmm… interesting question. I don’t know, certainly not Zeus – too much work!

I really don’t think I fully identify with any of them. They all have such human traits and weaknesses that it’s almost impossible not to identify with almost all of them, but wish to be… I think none of them.

I’m fine in my human skin.

Mythos: The Illustrated Story by Stephen Fry is available now