Illustration of The Town Musicians of Bremen tale published by Edições SM on the book Coletânea de Recontos - Irmãos Grimm and exhibited on the 8º Prêmio Barco a Vapor de Literatura Infantil e Juvenil 2012, during the bicentennial festivities of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm's book Children’s Stories and Household Tales.
Asked by the editor about the meaning of the unusual illustration he just received, I said that at first I really didn't want to be so literal regarding my interpretation of the story and that I followed exactly what the asked when I was invited to be part of this wonderful book: to use my sensibility and style to create something different from what other artists have done before.
I had this outstanding and unforgettable literature teacher in high school, the quintessential teacher, Professor Amil. Every time he was shouting to us kids "Thou shalt be worm!" and I never got it at first until he taught us about the concepts of Vanitas and Memento Mori in the books and tales he asked us to read. I never forgot that and I figured out this would be perfect for the story.
The notion of death in more "alive" in the elderly and I believe that there is a time that many just give up due to many reasons. But the opposite happens in the tale... Why give up? Why don't we follow our hearts?... The fact that the main characters see themselves at the end of their lives and still go out looking for the meaning of it in the time that is left justify their impulses and decisions during the story from beginning to end, even if they never reached Bremen nor became musicians themselves.
About the illustration itself, in many still life paintings that have this theme its very common to see a skull and several other objects like clocks and rotten fruits that represent the time passing and the brevity of life. In some paintings you also find musical instruments that symbolize the ephemeral, and since this objects could be related to our story I added a violin. The reason to use a teenager playing the violin is to oppose the idea of death, creating a conflict of ages, the good health of the young represented by his body and the wisdom of the elder represented by the heads, a conflict that resumes one of the morals of this tale in which the main characters knew that they couldn't fight with the thieves so they used their experience and craftiness to get what they wanted.