Fall around the world and "iconic" images

  • SVS OG

    I've been wondering about this ever since last month with the Fall contest. I noticed that most of the submissions for the theme of Fall had what I would consider "iconic" images of the season -- red and orange leaves, animals getting ready for hibernation, and cooler weather. I live in upstate NY and that's certainly what fall is for me but I also know that a lot of people on the forum are from places with very different climates, flora, and fauna. Red maple leaves, flannel shirts, and migrating geese may not be at all what you experience this time of year (or any time of year). At the same time, it feels like much of children's literature assumes those images are universally read as "fall" and the same goes for "iconic" pictures of winter or Christmas with snow covered trees and fires in wood stoves or fireplaces.

    I'm curious as to whether all of those images are in fact "read" in the same way wherever a person lives and if so, how you who are from different climates deal with that especially when called upon to illustrate holidays or seasonal material.

  • I grew up in Hawaii, but have also lived on the mainland in a typical "iconic" fall region. I will say that iconic fall imagery is definitely iconic for most of us in Hawaii- we are exposed to mainstream American culture just like the rest of America- but I'd say that in general it doesn't give us the "feels" to the extent that it would for someone who has lived through an iconic fall. When the season rolls around, many of us are thinking about fall treats, decorating with pumpkins and fall colors, and doing typical fall crafts- probably not to the extent as it's done here on the mainland though. Fashion is a bummer, because fall fashion is so cute, but it's not always possible to wear scarves, knitted hats, sweaters, coats, and cute boots without dying of heat stroke. For Christmas- not having snow is a bummer for some kids, because of the iconic Christmas imagery and songs about snow. Snow feels very much a part of a magical Christmas experience. In my hometown they will sometimes bring in a truckload of crushed ice close to Christmas for kids to play around in. Lol.

    Having lived on the mainland and experienced more of an "iconic" fall, I will say that the imagery is much more powerful to me now. Living in Hawaii and not knowing anythings else, it seemed more of a cue for decorating, crafts, and eating typical fall treats. But now being able to experience everything that an iconic fall has to offer, it's a lot more exciting and invigorating for me (that says a lot since I'm an adult and don't have the enthusiasm of a kid anymore) and I have a lot more appreciation for typical fall imagery since I have direct experiences with those things. It's interesting to think of what my idea for the Fall contest would be if I had never left Hawaii.

  • Here in the South, we hope fall comes on a weekend. For my wife and many of my friends fall means College football. I almost did my entry as a bunch of mice trying to play with a human football right as it is kicked. I wish now I had gone for the humor aspect.

  • SVS OG

    Really interesting point, and one I thought about a lot this month! Having lived in the mainland US until 7 years ago, all the fall symbols resonate with me (except maybe Pumpkin Spice). And here in a large city in northern Italy, people keep telling me that there are colorful leaves, but I just don't see nearly as many pretty ones as I did in the US, where even Central Park turns a gorgeous color of red.

    Here I see more emphasis on food--chestnuts, apples, sausage, polenta. But then, this is Italy. People talk about food all the time! And their sentiments.

  • SVS OG

    I was born and raised on the beautiful island of Barbados where there are basically two seasons wet and dry ( 3rd one maybe is hurricane?) Since moving to Canada in my 20s have really enjoyed the changing seasons - except perhaps the snowfall in June we recently experienced.

    My ideas of fall are certainly acquired second-hand - no childhood memories of playing in leaf piles to draw on - so have to rely on movies or listening to other people’s stories.
    I think iconic images are what are expected since illustrations need to be relatable to the target audience which appears to be mostly American/European. 🤷♀

  • Pro

    I'm in Canada so red maple leaves and flannel shirts aren't just stereotypes here haha

  • SVS OG

    It's interesting to me that people from places that don't have fall foliage or winter snow still see those images as iconic. I'm wondering if it is because historically for western literature and especially children's illustration, many of the best known artists were from New England, Britain, or other places with four seasons.

  • Well, I think certain things are in play:

    1. Mainstream American holidays all have their iconic color palettes and imagery. For St. Paddy's day you've got shamrocks, leprechauns and green, for Valentines you have red, pink, and hearts. Fall has it's own thing. Christmas has it's own set of things. Easter has it's own thing. Companies focus on using these themes and colors to help sell products and to help sell the idea of a holiday. You are going to get movies, tv shows, commercials, greeting cards, balloons, decorations, treats, books, magazine, coloring books, toys all using the same type of images and color palettes. No matter where you live in America, you are probably going to be exposed to all of this imagery when you go to the store, when you watch tv and movies, when you browse the internet. Fall for us is more associated to Halloween and Thanksgiving than a seasonal change. So when those holidays approach, we are exposed to the mainstream imagery through products and media, and we begin to associate colors and images to those holidays, much like St. Paddy's Day means green.

    2. While we definitely have our own iconic imagery going on, it's not as directly tied to seasonal changes, as our landscape does not change very dramatically. Biggest changes are rainy times vs non rainy times and big surf vs flat ocean. You've got seasonal fruits coming and going, but that's not really tied to other dramatic changes in the landscape. It's not as fun to base your iconic imagery of Halloween and Thanksgiving with overcast weather as it is to associate it with the mainstream iconic imagery.

    3. Hawaii already adopts asian, polynesian, and european cultural imagery and foods, it's not a stretch that we'd adopt iconic imagery from mainstream american culture.

  • SVS OG

    Living in a tropical country like the Philippines, the experience of fall is honestly very alien to me let alone winter. My only idea of fall is from the media and it’s not even that good. Doing last month’s prompt, i even found myself asking what do people wear during fall? What type of leaves fall during fall? It’s really silly. However, come summer time, you can bet that i’ll be an expert on it.... and also hurricane season... i’m well-versed on that too.

  • SVS OG

    @tessaw I hadn't thought about the marketing aspect of it. I had a friend who moved to the southern US and she said as soon as the thermometer dropped below 65, everyone broke out their flannels and sweaters because they wanted to wear their LL Bean clothes 🙂

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