Pitchfork   The Dissolve   Festivals: Chicago | Paris
Pumpernickel by Jamie Stolarski

Did you know the word "cataract" first appeared in the 15th century as a term for a waterfall? Any ideas about "average"? Turns out around the same time it was used to describe the financial loss when goods were damaged in transit.

Illustrated Etymology is a collaborative illustration project that tasks artists to create new works by interpreting unexpected word origins. To make sure their etymologies were factually sound, the group first reached out to Douglas Harper for permission to use his Online Etymology Dictionary. Harper gladly agreed. 

Despite being a collaboration between artists of different backgrounds—some work primarily in branding and advertising, and others specialize in printmaking and fine arts—the collection is still cohesive. The project manages to represent a variety of aesthetics by unifying the works with a general light-hearted tone and the simple request that each image should serve a descriptive or informative function. The results look great on the site, but we can't help but think they're onto an amazing book idea.

The project is currently looking for submissions of both words and illustrations. So if you're sitting on a great etymology or you like the sound of the assignment, be sure to get in touch