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Artistic interpretation in heraldry

Artistic interpretation in heraldry and coats of arms presents a formidable challenge. The heraldic artist enjoys considerable freedom within certain limits, but there are objects within a coat of arms that you cannot alter.

For example, the crest, the colors on the coat of arms, and the symmetry may not change. Unfortunately, attempts by layman and even some commercial graphic artists often result in some classic mistakes or incongruities within the coat of arms.

For example a heraldic description which reads ‘lion rampant, gules, armed and langued, azure’. This can be fat, thin, hairy or bald, happy or angry. However, it must be portrayed in the rampant position, coloured red and with tongue and claws of blue.

Its resemblance to a real lion is obscure. Historically, the heraldic artist’s only choice was often to render an animal as he or she thought it would appear. Therefore, many artists portrayed their lions with the claws and head of a similar size. People traditionally believed that the lion’s claws were just as important as the lion’s head.

Our heraldry artist

The Hall of Names heraldic artist, David, works carefully either to our designs or to those of our customers. (It is possible to petition the College of Arms for your own specific personal heraldry. To find out more, read here).

He explains “everything begins with what we know is as a ‘blazon of arms’ which in essence is a description of the coat of arms. As long as the elements are in the right position, there is room for artistic license”

Symbolism is an integral part of all heraldry, with each component part having deeper meaning and significance than initially suggested. To find out more about specific heraldry symbols and their meanings, see our free online dictionary.

Check to see if we have a coat of arms and surname history for the name you are interested in. For a full range of gift ideas, be sure to visit our shop for ideas to impress your loved one. Or find out about heraldry through the ages or heraldry meanings.

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