Gems & Minerals - Team Dynamics Through Illustrations
 The Gems & Minerals series was commissioned by a software development company, with the purpose of displaying them on large-scale canvases throughout the main meeting room of their headquarters, as a way of showcasing their inner nature, team diversity, and interconnectivity. 
Each gem is inspired by the names of each of their teams and created around certain characteristics of each specific gem the illustration represents. 
The gemstones are designed as immersive environments inhabited by little dudes with diverse personalities and traits, as one might find in a usual team. Here and there we can find “the workaholic”, “the always late dude”, “the brilliant idea dude”, “the adventurer”, “the activist”, “the one gallon of coffee per day dude”, “the opportunist” and of course, “the one who casually peeks into other people private conversations” plus many more. 
Xenotime is a rare-earth phosphate mineral and it is one of the few yttrium minerals known to science. Colors of Xenotime are mostly various shades of brown, but also gray, greenish-brown, muted red, and yellow. 

Xenotime world is densely populated by colorful plants, mushrooms, trees that grow gems, a Quartz dwelling (which is Xenotime team's headquarters), a flamingo head and neck (just because flamingos are cool) plus some IT-related elements in order to anchor the concept more into the software development world like an old monitor, a piece of keyboard and a pixelated mouse cursor. People are the core of a team, so of course, we had to add some little dudes around, that could add life to the composition. 

Throughout the illustration we have the workaholic and focused dude, the dude who always has ideas (proudly holding a light bulb), the zen dude (daydreaming about fields of flowers on a summer day), his distracted colleague is just being kidnaped by aliens (and no one seems to care)  and the 2 colleagues who always go to lunch break together. 
Bloodstone, also known as heliotrope, is a mixture of quartz that occurs mostly as jasper or sometimes as chalcedony. The "classic" bloodstone is opaque green jasper with red inclusions of hematite. Bloodstone (Heliotrope) is sometimes also referred to as "The Sun Stone" from the Greek term of Helios which means Sun. Starting from this, I decided to include various suns throughout the composition. 

In antiquity, this stone was also considered to hold magic powers and therefore was used by magicians as an "invisibility stone", so this motivated my choice to include a wizard on the top side of the illustration. 

Following the same structure as the previous stone, we have created the Bloodstone world on top of the bloodstone mineral. The Bloodstone world is populated by the heavy coffee drinker, the daydreamer, and the adventurer, all living amongst orange trees, weird-looking leaves, and IT elements such as a laptop, a hand using a mouse, and a funny-looking monitor. 
Amber is a fossilized tree resin, which has been appreciated for its color and beauty and made into a variety of decorative objects and jewelry or used as a healing stone in folk medicine. 

In order to qualify as "amber", it is NOT sufficient for a tree resin merely to harden by losing its volatiles, the molecules have to polymerize, which can take millions of years (or at least 100,000 years). Much of the material marketed as "amber" (especially that from Colombia and Madagascar) is far too young to be considered amber and is in reality just dried tree resin. In order to suggest the idea of ancient and old times, I chose to include several rocky ruins on top of which lots of greenery has grown throughout times and a very old "wise" tree, with human-like features and which has seen a lot through all these years.

The resin from which the amber is made comes from a certain species of pine trees, therefore, I have decided to include pine trees. forming a coniferous mini forest. Keeping the forest theme still going, I have drawn several mushroom houses that could serve as the Amber team's headquarters. 

We couldn't have been true to amber if we didn't have a fossilized insect trapped inside, so of course I added that. Due to the fact that amber was also used in the past as a protective stone, I have added two stone spirits as forest protectors. 

In the Amber world, we can find the always feels excluded dude, the childish guy, the demanding project manager and the animal and nature hugger.​​​​​​​ The German wurst on top of the pine trees casually says that the team loves the "gourmand day" the company organizes frequently, where the traditional wurst is devoured in remarkable quantities.  

I have also added some additional IT elements in the shape of a stone socket and a stone monitor, a laptop,  a random keyboard key, and plain coffee in industrial quantities.
There are many varieties of Jasper and for this concept, I focused on a specific variety called Ocean Jasper. Ocean Jasper is a combination of chalcedony, microcrystalline quartz, and other minerals, resulting in colorful bands and patterns. It's a variety of orbicular jasper and it is sometimes known as the “Atlantis Stone”. No such other mineral contains its diversity of tones and patterns like green, white, brown, orange, and pink.

Ocean Jasper is frequently associated with the complexity of Earth and the numerous layers that Mother Nature has crafted, from oceans and vast plains to mountains and deserts. It is a very rare stone and can only be found in the Northern side of Madagascar and only at low tide. That area is extremely beautiful and super remote, there are no roads and can only be reached by boat.

Inspired by the place where Ocean Jasper can be found, the entire concept is based on landforms and vegetation typical for Madagascar, such as baobab trees, palm trees, a chameleon, a turtle a humpback whale, and some rocky scenery (Isalo National Park). The focal point of the composition is of course the ocean with its big crashing waves. 

There are indeed some small dudes who may be considered inhabitants of the Jasper world. If we search carefully, among them we can find the "always know the way" dude, the "code hammering during lunchtime" dude, the "breaks seeker" and the "always fun" dude who basically is kinda addicted of to all the team building activities.

Jasper World is the home to some well-known artifacts, kinda famous in the IT community to be honest. We can find here the modern monitor with forever lasting post-it notes on it, a rather old invention known as a board with keys or keyboard as others know it, and some random cogwheels that were lost perhaps in the latest deployment from the software factory.
Jade is one of the favorite materials in carvings used in various feng shui cures, and it is also much loved as a medium for various jewelry. The gemstone holds a great deal of importance for Chinese people due to its beauty, practical use, and social value. Chinese people think that Jade encompasses 5 human virtues: courage, modesty, justice, compassion, and intelligence.

Confucius assigned to Jade 11 virtues:  benevolence, justice, propriety, truth, credibility, music, loyalty, heaven, earth, morality, and intelligence. These are the virtues that Chinese people admire and want to reach.
The Chinese people have a lot of jade-made sculptures and small decorative objects, from animals to clouds and earth and of course, the circular ancient Chinese jade artifact known as Bi. Jade objects are considered lucky amulets and support the one who wears them in reaching their goals. 
The green color of Jade is considered to be the purest green tone and the closest to tropical vegetation.

Starting from this significance that Chinese people assign to Jade, I chose to inspire the concept of oriental elements such as a pagoda, a Chinese dragon, and monks,  plus adding also lots of tropical vegetation and fully blossomed trees.

Jade World has its own inhabitants as well, just guide your eyes toward the central part of the composition and you'll see the spiritual dudes who always attend yoga classes and start their morning with a 15-minute meditation session. They are vegan and frequently donate to noble causes. We can assign to these dudes some of the virtues that Chinese peeps assign to Jade: compassion, modesty, wisdom.

Right above the spiritual dudes, you can see the backpacker. This dude really likes to travel and explore the world and its wonderful cultures. We can assign courage to this traveler dude.
The funny dudes riding fishes are the gamers and the fishes are their mounts. They are virtual explorers with an appetite for adventure. Cheers to them!

IT stuff? Yep, there's a happy monitor and the Escape key. 
The noble Onyx is a most ancient stone, known and utilized by even the earliest civilizations for its powerful energy and somber beauty. The pure black and rough variety of Onyx, unaltered by polishing, is pretty rare, therefore I chose to draw this one.

Onyx is often associated with mysteries, enigmas, and the stillness of the night sky. It is thought that it can help with removing nightmares and guiding the one who wears it to come out of the darkness and into the light.

In the Peruvian and Native American cultures, the onyx is used as a protective stone against evil. It was used in magic rituals during ancient times and warriors used to decorate their swords with this gemstone.

In astrology, Onyx is associated with the zodiac sign of Leo and with Leo's governing planet of Saturn. 
Being inspired by all these ancient beliefs on Onyx, I have populated the composition with all these elements that I thought were relevant. Catching all the attention, the Sacred Spirit of Onyx makes his way into the illustration, by promising protection and removing obstacles. He goes straight towards the upper part, where a worship area is offering him lots of veneration and acts of devotion. The worship area is filled with lots of Saturns, a Crescent Moon, and a pair of puppeteer hands, gently maneuvering some stars, planets, and some binary numbers.

The Onyx world is filled with colorful and weird-looking plants and trees and on the left and right sides, we have a pair of volcanoes erupting a glorious night sky. The night sky is filled with stars, several moons, constellations, and wish upon shooting stars, just the right feast for our zodiac believer dude, searching the sky to read his astrological prophecies. Apparently, Mercury is in retrograde and he is starting to panic. The zodiac dude is not alone in this world, he shares the space with the super mysterious guy (you can never tell what this guy thinks), the dude who really likes to peek into other people's private conversations, the obsessed by the code dudes (being easily mesmerized by the puppeteer hands) and the high-achiever dude, always chasing a job promotion with a powerful urge for personal development. Give this dude an achievement, will you?

What an ITist could be an enthusiastic about? An old-school floppy disk and the binary numbers.
Thought to be the gem of winter and ice, Diamond has long been appreciated for its perfection, strength, and beauty. By being considered indestructible, the diamond was worn by ancient warriors as they believed the stone would strengthen their muscles so they would be more efficient during combat. The name diamond derives from the Greek word adamas, meaning invincible. 

The origin of diamonds was a mystery for a very long time. According to Hindu beliefs, diamonds are born when lightning strikes a common rock. These days, it is assumed that diamonds form under very high pressure and temperatures, conditions that can be found only within the upper mantle of the Earth. 

Being considered such a beautiful, perfect, and pure stone, it seemed natural to me to try to represent this idea through a purity goddess, with a white snow long hair that flows through the fingers of a giant rocky hand that protects her. Using long hair was also a symbolic way to suggest the idea of beauty.
I chose to use hands throughout the composition, as a symbol of strength and power. For example, in the Celtic language of symbolism, hand symbol meanings were connected to authority and power. King Nuada lost his throne due to losing his right hand in battle.

In the cold icy realm of Diamond, one can find quartz growing out of nowhere, frozen plants, and leafless branches. No wonder "the opportunist"  is using his funny magnifying glass to scan every inch of the area in search of, why not, opportunities. He is accompanied in his quest by the "fighter" who never gives up, he just keeps on fighting. That "workaholic dude" seems like it is always present in these illustrations, what could be so important inside that laptop that we always catch him working?

A nice dude, "the ecologist", wants to contribute to lowering his carbon footprint and decided to use the bike to come to the office, instead of his beloved diesel car. Of course, he brings his own bag to the grocery store, doh.
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