#CreateArtHistory: Terra Australis Incognita


TERRA AUSTRALIS INCOGNITA: Weird and Wonderful Creatures

#CreateArtHistory with #Redbubble & #StateLibraryVictoria


I’ve been fascinated with ancient maps and mythical creatures since early childhood. We had a souvenir my father brought from Malta. It was and faux parchment map with islands of Malta and Gozo with ancient sail ships and dragons. I have always wanted to paint something similar, something that has to do with mythical creatures, maps and ships. When I’ve learned that there is Redbubble and State Library Victoria challenge named Create Art History with “Weird and Wonderful Creatures” theme, I decided to participate.

Therefore, I created fantasy map I’ve named Terra Australis Incognita with sea monsters, mythical creatures and mystery islands. There are beings on the map such as:

  • Kraken (legendary, giant sea monster octopus),
  • Balena (an enormous fish monster with mouth large enough to tear apart ships),
  • Aspidochelone (who rises to the surface from the depths of the sea, and entices unwitting sailors with its island appearance and then pull them under the ocean),

and many other legendary creatures that populated European medieval and renaissance imagination.


There are also fictional islands on the drawing that seem to be in vicinity of Australia’s coast such as Island Baralku. It is an island of the dead and the place where the Djanggawul (being from Aboriginal mythology) originated.  This mythical Island is actually sad to be near Arnhem Land of the Northern Territory of Australia, but I placed it at the left most corner of the map with lighthouse on and inscription HC SUNT DRACONES (Here be dragons) – which was used to describe dangerous, unexplored or uncharted areas of medieval maps.


I’ve put also some humanoid figures, inspired by Fortunio Liceti’s: De Monstrorum Caussis which I repainted so that they look like rabbit man, kangaroo man and elephant man. I chose map of the Australian State of Victoria as a background. Melbourne (Melburnia on Latin), and State Library Victoria in the Port Phillip Bay should resemble ancient Alexandria and Bibliotheca Alexandrina. Entire map is inscribed in pseudo Latin, with few words and sentences that are actually in real Latin – taken from different Wikipedia pages.



About map + technical details:

I’ve used several drawings of fish and sea creatures from State Library Victoria’s documents provided for this contest, other mythical creatures are taken and inspired by ancient medieval, renaissance (and later) maps and manuscripts. (All documents are in public domain.) Map of “Terra Australis Incognita” is based on 18th century map of Australia and almost completely digitally repainted and enhanced.

I have used following apps:

  • Autodesk Sketchbook PRO for all creature drawings,
  • Photoshop for picture manipulation, collages and enhancements,
  • InDesign for entering text and prepress, and
  • Autodesk Pixlr for final effects – old paper and ripped border.

Digital drawings uploaded to Redbubble are 7000 x 7000 px, (60x60cm), 300 dpi in CMYK color mode (Fogra39), and images (and details of the map) uploaded to Instagram are in RGB color mode 1080 x 1080 px.

I have enabled all products in my Redbubble shop that were looking god with the map drawing on.


Check out the rest here:



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