Sunday, October 6, 2013

Dreams of Elephants for #inktober

   At work I am part of a large project—that grows and evolves by the day, if not the hour—launching next year. I've only been in my Creative Strategist job for three months, so I'm still learning every day, and am happily able to help shape the project. Maybe it's because I'm in the honeymoon phase of my job, but more likely it's that I'm able to bring my creative side to work again, I'm having fun. Lots of it. And because of that, the constant change doesn't frustrate me, it rolls right off me.    ...Or does it?
   While I can't tell you many specifics about the project, I can tell you there is a story. The story has a location. In the location there are characters. This morning I woke up after having one of those dreams that seemed so real that it took me a few drowsy moments to realize that it wasn't. I guess you could categorize it as a "work stress dream", but "stress" isn't quite the right word. 
   I dreamt that my boss came to my desk and said he had to talk to me about the project. "No problem!" I smiled.
   "I need you to create a poster design. But we're changing the main character to an elephant. A baby elephant. His name is Two."
   (This was a 180 from where we were headed—to put it mildly.) "Two?" I said, dumbfounded. 
   "No, just ONE elephant. His NAME is TWO." Jeff corrected me. "We're going to make a movie called, 'The Tale of Two'. It takes place at an elephant sanctuary in the jungles of Thailand." <—[This part certainly came out of my subconscious, a conversation the other day with Ryan, a coworker who had been sent on a business trip to Sri Lanka when he worked at Coleman. He visited an elephant preserve and got to interact with and touch elephants of all sizes. I'm insanely jealous.]
   Somehow I instinctively knew that at the end of the story, the viewer would learn that although there's one elephant named Two, another baby elephant would join him, so they could be adorable baby elephants together. That's what sixteen years at Hallmark will do to you, kids.
   Jeff said, "I need you to mock up a convincing movie poster for a presentation to one of our top customers."
   My mind was down the rabbit-hole; I was trying to think of a device to subtly hint at a second elephant within the poster, that the viewer would connect to the story only after seeing the movie. Because I'm crafty like that. A reflection of another elephant in his eye? Or a background element that was vaguely elephant-shaped? Or how about...
   Jeff interrupted my thinking and continued, "The presentation is tomorrow."
   My heart stopped for a second, and I instantaneously racked my brain to think of who the heck could execute good Thai-style calligraphy for my Tale of Two, the one elephant (or is it two?) movie poster before TO-morrow. [This is not at all that unlike the actual work I do day-to-day: figuring out the concept, the look I want and the talent I need, negotiating to secure them, and then directing them to completion. Even that deadline is "normal". Probably why I woke up unsure if it was a dream or reality.]
   Then Jeff said, "And to make sure it's authentic, I'm sending you to Thailand TODAY."
   "OKAY, NOW WE'RE GETTING SOMEWHERE!" I said—unsure if it was out loud or in my head. Who wants to go to Thailand? ME. And suddenly (because apparently my company now has time machines) I was in a studio in Thailand, which was bustling with activity. It was not unlike my actual work environment, except the office was much, much brighter (my brain's dig at the windowless plight of my current office), and all the designers were, you know, Thai.
   I quickly sketched baby elephants and attempted to pull a layout together so that my crack team of baby-elephant-and-Thai-lettering-specialists could get to work.
* * * warning to reader, this is where the dream gets extra-dreamy—
and by that I mean strange—you might want to bail now * * *
   Then a whistle blew, and everyone walked out. A woman came to escort me through a very ornate building with walls of carved wood that essentially looked like screens. She handed me a medium-sized ceramic bowl of water with lemon juice in it. I had no idea what to do with it, but she gave it to me, so I carried it. 
   She took us past a doorway that I almost tried to enter, and only at the last second saw a tiny Thai hieroglyphic dude, realizing that it must be the men's room, and thankful that I had an escort, so that I could avoid the embarrassment of entering the wrong door.
   She turned into what I assumed was the ladies room, a large, open hall with "stalls" of intricately-carved wood with more holes than Swiss cheese (privacy, anyone?) and piles of intensely-colored, ornate silk pillows. Wait. This is no restroom. Should I be expecting royalty to enter? What. The heck. Is this place?
   I chose a stall and set my lemon water down on the floor, there being no tables. Was I suppposed to rest it on a pillow? What if it fell over?
   The woman motioned for me to kneel down, then left. There was no one else there. I really didn't know where I was and what I was supposed to be doing—except that I knew I had a very hot deadline on what was quickly becoming a very vexing elephant poster. I needed to get back to work! I needed to pray for divine intervention from whatever God they worship here! Then I woke up.
* * * * *
   And that, my friends, is my inspiration for today's #inktober drawing. I don't know what it all means, but I got a cute drawing out of it, and if I'm listening to my subconscious, I need to take a trip to Thailand.  ;)

   The concept I saw in my dream was to incorporate the Thai word for elephant, chaang, into the elephant's body, and to have his shadow represent a second baby elephant. The English title reflects the style of the Thai alphabet. The elephant is marching—I'm not sure why—my brain wasn't asleep long enough to write the whole story, and the background would be highly decorative and colorful, like traditional art from the region.