The Art Of Things That Don’t Exist

April 15, 2022 by Zuza Ciszewska in Illustration Hub


Most fictional stories originate from some kind of myth, legend, or folktale that is hundreds or thousands of years old.

So yes, we’re pretty much saying that we should thank humans from ancient times for most of the heroes, villains, and other types of fictitious creatures you see portrayed throughout our popular culture. 

Our ancestors gave us fables and superstitions! And now a bunch of talented Displate artists are making awesome art inspired by those stories! Thank you, great great great grandparents.

Things that don’t exist are always fun to ponder about — and they’re even more fun to see!

So…

Get ready to smile, laugh and get a little bit creeped out by this abso-freaking-lutely awesome collection of artworks (submitted by our artist community) that depict the world’s most legendary and imaginative characters amongst other things that don’t exist!

Oh, and you’ll definitely be inspired by the level of kick-ass creativity on this list. We’re also excited to introduce you to the talented Displate artist Grzegorz Rutkowski, who you can learn more about in our recent on the spot interview!.

You can sit back, relax, and start scrolling.

Let the art show begin!

1. Dragons

Characterized as winged, horned, and capable of breathing fire, dragons have unknown origins but are believed to come from the ancient Greek and Samarian mythologies.

In popular culture, you can see representations of these flying snake-like creatures in the Game Of Thrones, The Hobbit, and (technically) in The Neverending Story, too. Falcor anyone?

Here are a few modern interpretations of dragons by the artists on Displate!

2. Wizards

Characterized as powerful, wise, and grey-bearded men with magical powers, wizards are said to most likely have their origins set in Nordic mythology.

In popular culture, you can see representations of these mystical sorcerers as Merlin, Gandalf, and even Dr. Strange.

Here are a few modern interpretations of wizards by the artists on Displate!

3. Mermaids

Characterized as beautiful, playful, and kind (though sometimes dangerous), the half-woman half-fish creatures known as mermaids kept the oceans a mysterious place for apparently the entire world, as several stories about them appear in many different cultures. 

Interestingly, the first accounts of mermaids derive from ancient Assyria, so its assumed people believed in them as early as the 25th century BC.

In popular culture, you can see these lovely-looking aquatic beings in Homer’s epic poem, The Odyssey; Disney’s The Little Mermaid, and the Chronicles of Narnia series.

Here are a few modern interpretations of mermaids by the artists on Displate!

4. Goblins

Characterized as secretive, greedy, and mischievous, goblins seem to have originated in Medieval Europe, perhaps as early as the 5th century.

In popular culture, you can see representations of these tiny troll-like creatures in RuneScape, Dragon Ball Z, and Harry Potter.

Here are a few modern interpretations of goblins by the artists on Displate!

5. Cyborgs

Characterized as evolutionarily advanced people who are made of both biological and artificial body parts, cyborgs were first conceptualized by scientists in the 1960’s.

In popular culture, you can see representations of these futuristic characters today as Darth Vader, RoboCop, or the Master Chief himself. 

In popular culture, you can see representations of these futuristic characters today as Darth Vader, RoboCop, or the Master Chief himself. 

Here’s a few modern interpretations of cyborgs by the artists on Displate!

6. Unicorns

Characterized as pretty, majestic, and otherworldly, unicorns and their single spiralled horn have risen to fame from Persian stories of the 4th century BC. While it turns out that beasts with one-horns did actually exist at one point in time, they weren’t presented as magical beings like unicorns are today, nor were they as aesthetically pleasing.

In popular culture, you can see this legendary equestrian creature pop up in hundreds of funny internet memes, children’s shows like My Little Pony, and in a highly rated fantasy novel called The Last Unicorn.

Here are a few modern interpretations of unicorns by the artists on Displate!

7. Magic Genies

Characterized as helpful, magical, ghostly creatures who grant people’s wishes on command in Western culture, magic genies are first seen in Arabian mythology around 1000 BC and were called jinn, which were seen as wind and fire spirits powerful enough to possess any human.

In popular culture, you can see these supernatural shapeshifters appear in The Thousand And One NightsI Dream Of Jeannie, and DC Comics (and of course, Disney’s Aladdin).

Here are a few modern interpretations of fairies by the artists on Displate!

8. Vampires

Characterized as fang-toothed, undead, and always thirsty for blood, vampires make their first historical appearance in 17th century Eastern Europe.

In popular culture, you can see representations of these immortal bloodsuckers today as Count Dracula, Nosferatu, and the most badass vampire of them all, Blade.

Here are a few modern interpretations of vampires by the artists on Displate!

9. Phoenix

Characterized by transformation, strength, and immortality, the firebird known as the Phoenix is believed to come from stories of the Ancient Greeks. At that time in history, some artworks endowed them with halos to show the birds’ connection with the sun.

In popular culture, you can see these colourful symbolic figures of rebirth arise in stories like X-Men, Harry Potter, and in some of the plays of William Shakespeare.

Here are a few modern interpretations of Phoenix by the artists on Displate!

10. Mecha

Characterized as Godzilla-sized robots operated and manned by humans for epic battles, the concept of mecha seems to have originated from kamishibai, a form of street theatre and storytelling that was popular in 1930’s Japan.

In popular culture, you can see these gigantic fighting machines in Gundam, Power Rangers, and many anime comics and films.

Here are a few modern interpretations of mecha by the artists on Displate!

11. Elves

Characterized as magical, charming, pointy-eared little people who live in the hills of forest kingdoms or inside miniature shoe-houses, elves make their first historical appearance in Norse mythology.

In popular culture, you can see these fun and mystical fantasy species appear in a book called Eragon, several books and movies by J.R.R Tolkien, and tons and tons of Christmas stories.

Here are a few modern interpretations of elves by the artists on Displate!

12. Orcs

Characterized as barbaric giants with monstrous faces and snarling teeth, orcs were created by the author of the Lord Of The Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien. However, a variation of the word ‘orcneas’ (monsters) is found in the poem Beowulf which was written much earlier between the 8th and 11th centuries, so the original conception of orcs is still up for debate.

In popular culture, you can see representations of these green-skinned beasts in Lord Of The Rings, World of Warcraft, and Skyrim.

Here are a few modern interpretations of orcs by the artists on Displate!

13. Fairies

Characterized as miniature, flying, human-like creatures who often call the woodlands their home, fairies may have originated from 13th century England but have also been traced to multiple other sources, too.

In popular culture, you can see representations of these small magical creatures in the stories of Peter Pan, Cinderella, and A Midsummer’s Night Dream.

Here are a few modern interpretations of fairies by the artists on Displate!

14. Witches

Characterized as wrinkly old women who wear pointy hats and fly around on broomsticks, witches’ origins are unknown. However, some historical reports have indicated the notion of witches comes from harvesting rituals held during Medieval times.

In popular culture, you can see representations of these magical enchantresses in The Wizard Of Oz, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, and Hocus Pocus.

Here are a few modern interpretations of witches by the artists on Displate!

15. The Grim Reaper

Characterized as a dark and mysterious hooded skeletal figure who carries around a scythe, the legendary Grim Reaper can be traced back to Greek mythology where he was first known as Thanatos, the lord of death. The name carries a nice ring to it.

In popular culture, you can see representations of this omen and relentless soul collector in Scream, Monty Python’s The Meaning Of Life, and a cartoon version in The Simpsons.

Here are a few modern interpretations of the Grim Reaper by the artists on Displate!

16. The Kraken

Characterized as a colossal, monstrous, squid-like sea monster that terrorizes ships and sailors, the Kraken is based on a written account documented by the King of Norway in 1180. But it’s still just a myth.

In popular culture, you can see this legendary leviathan in Magic: The Gathering, The Pirates of The Caribbean, and in Alfred Tennyson’s poem from 1830, ‘The Kraken,” which describes a titan-sized sea creature that dwells at the bottom of the ocean.

Here are a few modern interpretations of the Kraken by the artists on Displate!

Be Careful What You Fish For

17. Zombies

Characterized as a reawakened corpse with an insatiable appetite for human brains, the idea of zombies first came alive in the writings of the Ancient Greeks, perhaps as early as the year 800 BC.

In popular culture, you can see representations of these unrestful flesh-eaters today in The Walking Dead, Shaun Of The Dead, and 28 Days Later.

Here are a few modern interpretations of zombies by the artists on Displate!

And Just For Fun! …

11 Awesome Things That Also Don’t Exist

Galaxy Deer

Giant Monsters

Cute Monsters

One Ring To Rule The World

Upside Down World

Flying Pigs Making Sandwiches

French Fries City

Smiling Tacos

A Brief Message From Your Pals At Displate …

Hey you!

Did you have fun viewing this incredible list of original artworks on Displate?

If you had a great time browsing these illustrations and photography …

We invite you to check out the rest of our online store to see everything else our community of artists create for sale!

Which amazing new artworks will you stumble upon next?

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