A recent biology graduate and former taxidermist from Ghent, Belgium, creates figurines of warriors from hundreds of dead insect body parts.
Joos Habraken, 28, usually spends between 20 and 30 hours working on each of his “Frankenstein bugs”, fantastical creatures born from his imagination and featuring intimidating names and awe-inspiring stories. He uses body parts from his own impressive collection or from a network of people he has collaborated with over the years. He only uses body parts of already dead insects and would never even consider killing insects just to fuel his hobby.
Photo: Joos Habraken/Instagram
Habraken, who works in a climbing gym as a tracker and instructor, has always had a thing for taxidermy and insects, so his intriguing hobby combines the two passions. It all started when he went to the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences for his master’s degree, after studying biology in college.
“We did a behind-the-scenes tour of the collections and were told that volunteers could take home equipment to mount the bugs and bring it back – it all started from there,” Joos said. “I had a lot of free time so I started doing a lot of work for the museum and was able to keep broken butterflies.”
For me, it’s really important that the backstory is part of it because that’s where everything comes to life.
“You start with nothing, just a rod of steel, and then you start looking for mythological names and looking for places where they might live.
“And then you use all these different insect parts to create something beautiful.
After graduating, the Belgian already had an impressive collection of insects and started assembling them to sell to like-minded insect enthusiasts. Then he landed a job as a taxidermist and ended up re-enacting his first Frankenstein warrior in his shop.
At first, his designs were simplistic and didn’t even have a name or story. But that all changed after The Hero of a Thousand Faces, his first really complex figurine, for which he used 70 body parts, including 26 insect heads.
After his intricate first project went viral, Joos Habraken continued to challenge himself to create even more intricate pieces, with his most recent projects featuring between 100 and 200 insect body parts and intriguing stories. .
“For me, it’s really important that the backstory is part of it because that’s where it all comes to life,” Habraken said. “You start with nothing, just a rod of steel, and then you start looking for mythological names and looking for places where they might live. And then you use all these different insect parts to create something beautiful.
The young Belgian uses superglue to assemble hundreds of insect body parts, spending dozens of hours designing and experimenting with each creation. His latest took a total of 40 hours – spread over several weeks – to complete.