Of all the Gods, Hel is by far one of the toughest to depict for me. Even though she is iconic, it is a fine line to walk when designing her, as it quickly becomes a cliché, or just overworked, with skulls and bones.
So, when Sebastien approached me with this project, i was very interested but also immediately challenged in my design-phase. How to depict the god of the underworld without Goth, skulls and bones?
And later on, how to depict Freya to be a suitable counterpart on the other arm?
So, Hel first. I drew heavy inspiration from the many artifacts depicting goddesses and valkyries, plus of course snakes. I mixed this with disproportion, aiming to create a character that stands apart as maimed and unnatural.
Equipping her with a staff to support the broken frame made sense, as did the concept of snake-like hair, as a Medusa-like being.
To finish of the impression, i made sure everything was shaded densely and dark, with black-on-grey areas as well.
For Freya, the challenge was to avoid all density, and create a divine without creating another cliché. So as little shading as possible, and no modernised feminine ideals. She also needed horns, of course, to tie in with the fertility of the earth. She carries a spear, depicting her as a leader and/or queen, to match the fact that she commands her own army. And cats, as you can see on the first photo. I could not hold myself from making them somewhat lynx-like.
Photography by Gabrielle Melwski