The Children of Loki: Pairing Norse Mythology With Contemporary Visuals to Create a Provocative Narrative

A body of design work, large scale prints, and hand constructed plaster objects

Jimmy Henderson
Graphic Designer
Jimmy Henderson | Design & Illustration

The past century, particularly the past 20 years, have seen unprecedented growth, change and development in our society, which has led to polarization, division and uncertainty. Communication designers have sought to make sense of the world and clarify this uncertainty—particularly through the use of a variety of narrative methods to illuminate issues, encourage dialogue and inspire change.

One of these projects—The Children of Loki—is a body of design work, presented as large scale prints and hand constructed plaster beer cans that act as modern-day runestones—that uses the framework of historical Norse mythology, paired with digital collage rooted in street art, vintage illustration and vibrant color themes—to create a provocative visual tale that presents information on current political and societal events and bridges the gap between disparate audiences through statistical facts and rich observational storytelling.

During the author’s extensive research of the Prose Edda—a 13th century written record of Norse mythology written by Icelandic scholar and lawmaker Snorri Sturluson—as well as modern rewritten accounts, they noticed a correlation between the myths and the social structure of the United States post World War 2 to the present. These myths serve as familiar metaphors that illuminate a range of events—from the economic boom of 1950’s America, to the rising cost of education, the growth of wealth disparity, the threat of climate change, and the conflict between multiple generations.

While mythology and other literary references have been used across design for years, notably in brands like Nike, Maserati and Versace, The Children of Loki expands further upon the use of mythology in design by pushing a contemporary narrative—the omniscient myth serves as an oracle of what’s to come and is made more real with relatable visuals and tangible objects from everyday life. This creates a rich provocation for dialogue by which to discuss and shine a new light on contemporary events and increases the audience’s ability to understand complex information by blending vibrant visuals and immersive storytelling.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 7.1: Oakland University, MI on October 17, 2020.