Mexican Skull Designs

4/7/12 – Mexican Skulls used for iphone and ipad covers

The other day I discovered a range of ipad and iphone covers on the internet, which featured a similar shape or design to the Mexican sugar skulls.  The designs are definitely bright and colourful, although it is very fascinating to realise how popular the Mexican skulls have become on the internet.

I personally wouldn’t mind a cover for my phone or my ipad with the Mexican skulls on the back, although I begin to wonder whether the consumer would be generally interested in the design of the cover or whether the consumer would purchase this particular item for the image of the skull? Perhaps the different shapes, colours and designs distracts one’s attention from that the actual shape of the skull.

A few weeks ago I was researching the Mexican skulls as a tattoo design, now I’m researching the Mexican skulls in iphone or ipad covers, which invites me to question whether the Mexican Day of the Dead imagery is beginning to attract a mass audience. Do these iphone or ipad covers demonstrate the Mexican skull as a commercialised product for mass consumption? Or have the Mexican skulls become another product or distribution that is designed to satisfy the desires or interests of the consumer?

Stanley Brandes clarifies that the Mexican skulls and other Day of the Dead imagery is also designed for commercial purposes such as tourism. The Day of the Dead also features a spiritual, cultural and historical relevance to death and the image of the skull, although commercialisation also allows certain communities to earn a profit. (S. Brandes, 1988 p. 182 – 195)

Perhaps the Day of the Dead imagery has been taken to the next level and there are more shops, restaurants and bars that are beginning to sell Mexican skulls. Has this been the purpose all along? A few years ago I had no insight into the Day of the Dead festival nor the sugar skulls, although the research project has provided me with the sudden urge to book a holiday to Mexico in order to experience the festival for myself.

One could argue that the commercialisation of the Mexican skulls is definitely a good way to bring money into Mexico, although has the continuos reproduction of the sugar skulls diminishes the actual meaning or content?

Friends, family and other acquaintances always ask me what is the Day of the Dead festival? What is the meaning behind the Mexican sugar skulls? These particular questions invite me to question whether the consumer purchases the Mexican skulls without realising its actual significance?

As a consumer do we continually buy items or products without knowing where it comes from? Most of the time I purchase items, without actually thinking about the origin or the history behind the product that I’m buying. perhaps the 21st century consumer has been programmed to purchased items impulsively, although at this stage of the research it is difficult to determine how the mass market actually interprets the Mexican skulls.

Hopefully If I can get my proposal accepted from the ethics committee, I will be able to conduct interviews with local businesses and shops around Melbourne CBD. Stay tuned for further information!

Brandes, Stanley. “Iconography in Mexico’s Day of the Dead: Origins and Meaning.” American Society for Ethno – History 45, no. 2 (1998) p.182 – 195

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