Sometimes when I'm looking for a new idea for an illustration, I ask a friend to throw me a subject as a starting point. One idea that was given to me was the subject of masks, which took my interest and was something I hadn't explored before. I started researching masks online and looked at a whole lot of books at the library. Mexican, Japanese and African masks appealed to me the most for inspiration. Around the same time, I'd also been hearing a lot about the lizard brain and the concept kind of crept into my process and the mask idea evolved into a lizard brain idea.
The lizard brain is a primitive part of our brain that is in control of our fight or flight reflexes. Important when fleeing from real danger but in our daily lives it sets off all sorts of irrational stress alarms. You could be lying in bed peacefully one minute and then wide awake in fear turning over anxious thoughts to becoming angry when someone cuts you off while driving or challenging your point of view. Seth Godin describes it as one of the biggest reasons people don't follow their passion or try new things as they imagine all the things that might go wrong but it's just the lizard brain trying to keep us safe. One of the things we can do to curb the lizard in us is to acknowledge it and see it for what it is. Know the difference between a real and an imagined fear and try to remain present while in its grips.
The initial sketches I drew included lizards of course but I also went a bit overboard with snakes, dragons and devils. At the time I thought those things looked awesome but they diluted the concept and over complicated the composition. However this realisation only came after many goes at trying to make it work until a frustrated late night eraser rampage helped me see the light. From then on, it was pretty smooth sailing since the relatively rough and angular style I was using required a lot less time fussing over each line. Overall it was a bit of a different style than what I'm used to, if anyone can tell the difference, but it was certainly refreshing for me! It also lent itself to having more of a poster feel to it, so I might just pin this piece on my wall rather than frame it.