Kjell Sandved’s Scaly Type
Exemplified in the Egyptian and Mayan culture, man has incorporated many insects as characters of alphabets throughout history. As it turns out, butterflies and moths had the scaly type of our contemporary roman character set concealed within their intricate wing designs long before man committed them to stone on the base of Trajan’s column back in 114 A.D.
Photographer, Kjell Sandved summed up the motivation behind his life’s work when he said, “It is written on the wings of butterflies.” After over 25 years of field photography and scouring through museum insect collections, Kjell Sandved succeeded in finding all characters of our current alphabet within the astoundingly beautiful and varied wing pattern designs of butterflies and moths. Although our understanding of the biological purpose behind such elaborate beautification might focus on behavioral tactics, Kjell’s achievement in producing “The Butterfly Alphabet” is a great example of cultural entomology.
From a simple perspective, “The Butterfly Alphabet” represents an interesting twist on the subject of entomological typography. Far more interesting are its implications as a learning tool. Kjell mentions, “Nature’s message is clear to see.” The idea that beautiful letters help children learn the alphabet is so easily expanded to the idea that butterflies are providing us a window through which to teach us a whole lot more.
Aside from the compelling graphic impact and diversity of the butterfly wing imagery, I suspect Kjell gained much of his recognition through the elevated appreciation status butterflies hold over other insects. Despite the general admiration of nature’s beauty on butterfly wings, the majority of people spend little time really seeing the beauty found on lepidopteral wings.
To contact Kjell Sandved, you can email him at [email protected].