Vita Mentis Challenge Number 1:
Make an Illustration for Hesiod's Theogony

Before the invention of the printing press, the production of a book was a long and costly process, so only books that were worth the effort and expense would be produced. Those that were most worthy, however, got special attention: careful editing, precise and even artistic lettering, ornate covers, and colorful illustrations.

The fortunes of the book have risen and fallen. In the twentieth century, the cheap paperback enabled virtually anything to be printed, and fancy editions were generally priced right out of the market. Today, books are available in electronic form, and many--including the grand classics--are available for free on the internet.

The book, then, has gone from being one sort of rarity to another: from being a precious commodity, to being an obsolete technology. Still, there are those who have a fondness for a physical book, a codex as they were called to distinguish them from scrolls when they were first invented about 2000 years ago. The illustrated codex is still a glorious thing, and people line up to get a glimpse of something like The Book of Kells.

Producing an illustrated codex is no longer a zillion-dollar proposition, and it seems like a fun thing to do, so our first Vita Mentis challenge is to produce an illustrated edition of Hesiod's Theogony. Your task (should you choose to accept it) is either to create an illustration that we can use in the book, or to serve as a sponsor (and have your name listed in the final product). Of course, you are welcome to do both. Here are some guidelines:

For Illustrators: We'd like to produce a more or less stylistically coherent book, so here are some parameters. (You may, of course, do your own thing and, if it impressed us, we'll find a way to celebrate your contribution.) We would like something that calls to mind the style of the Greeks of the Classical era. They liked realistic figures in fairly empty setttings. We would like each illustration to focus on an single god or hero, or a key event (which may involve multiple characters). Without being prudish, we would like to produce a family-friendly book, so bear that in mind. For those with an intrest in charts and maps, the Theogony presents many opportunities to draw family trees, and we could use a couple of illustration showing how Hesiod thought the universe was organized. Pictures and drawings should be designed to fit a letter-sized page with 1 inch margins at the top and bottom and 1.125 inch margins on the sides. If we select your chart or illustration, we will want a version in a vectorized pdf file to send to the printer, so you might think about creating your file as a vector graphic from the start. Here's a link to a FREE program that can help you make vector art: Inkscape.

This is essentially a publicity or advertising service for qualified artists. On the legal side, we will require you to grant us an unlimited right to post your piece (in no greater than 100 dpi resolution) on our web site, and include high resolution copies of your work in the book. This leaves you free to sell copies of the work in other formats (if we can assist you in such efforts, we will). In the book, we will credit you by printing a thumbnail of your piece next to your name and contact information. There is a $20.00 fee for submitting an entry, which should be printed in color on a letter-sized sheet (send a copy, not your original--it might get lost, destroyed, or suffer some other mishap). Mail your submission, fee, contact info, and signed submission form to:

Sito's llc
3618 Bates St. #1
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Low resolution images of all entries will be posted online in an effort to get a sense of which ones the public likes the most. While this is not a popularity contest, the preferences of the public will be taken into consideration when selecting pieces to include in the book. Pieces which do not meet the stylistic criteria of this call for submissions, but are, nevertheless, worthy of exhibit, will be posted on our web site but marked as disqualified. Pieces with content that is not family-friendly may be censored (sorry).

For Sponsors:

Nothing happens in the civilized world without financing. Financial backing is usually supplied by governments (who are, sadly, mainly interested in things related to weaponry) and businesses (who are, understandably, mainly interested in turning a profit). This means that all projects unrelated to weaponry and profit often go unfunded, and so, undone. A civilization which leaves matters unrelated to weapons and profit undone defines itself as one with low ideals and ambitions, and makes a dismal showing in the historical record. It is those who rise above the practical necessities of life who leave behind the sorts of works that inspire wonder and admiration.

The way our economy is currently structured, it is difficult for those with high ideals and aspirations to end up in the financial position to single-handedly fund the sorts of things that mark a civilization as one of the higher ones that have graced the Earth. It is, however, possible for a number of high-minded individuals to team up, to pool resources, and to make high and noble things happen because our economy does allow many to accumulate sufficient wealth to engage in discretionary spending. So it is better for us (and more useful if we are thinking in terms of getting things done), to cooperate, than to wait for the rare hero with deep pockets and high ideals to arrive on the scene.

It must, of course, be said that producing an illustrated edition of Hesiod's Theogony is not the greatest cultural height we might achieve together, but every journey begins with a first step, so let us not think of this as our destination, but our launching point.

If this strikes you as a good place to start, please become a sponsor at one of the following levels:

  • $50: This essentially amounts to a pre-purchase of the book, and should cover sales tax and the cost of delivering it to you as well (providing you live in southwest PA).
  • $75: Not only will you get a copy delivered to you, your name (or up to 100 characters of text {family-friendly, of course}) inscribed on the List of Sponsors in the book, but you will be contributing towards delivering a free copy to one of the artists who contributed to the creation of the book.
  • $100: You get a free copy, 200 characters of family-friendly text on the List of Sponsors, plus you you will be contributing towards delivering a free copy to one of the artists who contributed to the creation of the book.
  • $500: You get a free copy, a 6" x 4.5" space in the book (a half page, given the margins) that you can fill with family-friendly content, plus you purchase copies for 2 artists.
  • $1,000: You get a free copy, a 6"x9" space in the book (a full page, given the margins) that you can fill with family-friendly content, plus you purchase copies for 5 of the artists.
  • More than $1,000? Maybe you'd better tell us what you'd like and we'll try to make it happen.

Use this sponsorship form to submit your order.