Wise Owl

Throughout time, owls have always been viewed as wise. Even the term “wise-owl” has become a readily used term in conversation. When one thinks of an owl, it is not too far fetched to think of them as being intelligent, scholarly, glasses wearing creatures. Some believe the reason behind this correlation between owls and intelligence is because they always ask “Who?”, meaning they are always wanting to know more and absorb knowledge. Others believe that is silly and turn to mythology. Going back to ancient Greece, Athena, the goddess of wisdom, warfare, and handicraft had always been depicted as having an owl nearby. Some have even thought that she had the ability to take form as an owl hence the correlation (BlanchardGold). Nonetheless, if Athena is present in a drawing or painting, it is fair to assume an owl is also drawn or painted within the piece.

The image on the left is an engraving done in 1625 by the Dutch artist, Cornelis Bloemaert II depicting an owl seeming ever-so wise. On the right, a very similar approach, but with man. This painting on the right was done by Hendrick ter Brugghen in 1626-1627. It seems the engraving on the left has just as strong of a message as the painting on the right. This shows what seems to be an owl deep with thorough thought, engulfed into its own mind, yet we can say the same about the man on the right who is writing about. It’s interesting as we know to depict animals to have no ability to think on the same complexities on man, yet it begins to be so easy to do so when looking at this image. What is most interesting are the words shown at the bottom of this engraving. It says “Wat baet keers off bril, als den WL niet sien en wil?” or “What use are candles and spectacles if the owl refuses to see?”. In this sense, to “see” means to be wise, depicting that being wise can only come from those who care to be (Jhna).

Furthermore, the image of an intelligent owl only becomes more and more known. To get the attention of customers and clients, many companies will do things that will grab the attention of the viewer as quickly as possible. With that attention that they have gotten, they need to make a point and make that just as quickly. There have been many companies that will use this same owl trope.

This image above is the mascot of a company called The Wise Owl Tutoring Center. Despite choosing this mascot to be represented, there were a handful of other companies with the same approach. Why is this? With the large eyes, it seems as if the owl is interested and eager to learn. The idea of using this form of advertisement enables the viewer to see a symbol of sorts of wisdom and correlate that with tutoring. The graduate cap also benefits this idea. It allows one to relate their growth in learning with this owl.

Lastly is this cartoon art shown above. It is of a series by Eric Gurney for Ethyl Corporation created throughout the 1950’s. It depicts a Loon speeding and showing no care for the rules put into place following an owl, considered here to be a “Smart Bird” who follows the speed limit and knows they are there for it’s own good. The cartoon later goes on to say that the smart bird will fill its’ gas tank up with premium gasoline because it knows it is good for its’ engine. Along with this cartoon, there are others like “The Timid Titmouse”, “The Balding Eagle”, and “The Darting Road Runner”, all of which has an owl being depicted as the “Smart Bird”. This advertisement cartoon is fun and catches ones attention while being informative and showing a reason to trust the owl because of its’ initial common sense, which leads to wanting to trust its’ choice in gasoline.