Sitting in the White House diner with my father a week after Dragon*con, I opened the day’s print of the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Out slipped a leaflet and on it was a challenge to talented people across the city. Prove to an ad agency, Brunner, or rather its newest 26-month-old creative director that you have the ability to imagine, surprise and delight the world with the same unhindered passion as a toddler. Mulling over a country ham, I committed myself to give my very best and find a way to impress this creative director, Declynn James. This blog post as well as the following post are the projects I undertook to answer Brunner’s challenge.
Following breakfast, I spent the rest of the day in the Buckhead library and luckily an idea came to me. Why not make a children’s book for Declynn James? What would the children’s book be about? Me, of course! The book would be a transplant of my resume and work experience into a format familiar to a 2-year-old. With library card in hand, I quickly checked out what would become my greatest literary and artistic inspiration for this project.
There were so many horrible setbacks that almost kept this project from failing. I cannot draw, much less draw on a computer with Photoshop. My dad recommended I turn something in to Brunner by the end of the week, which gave me approximately four days to learn how to draw, print and bind this together.
Some of my ideas turned out real bad. I originally planned to put all the printed sheets on cardboard, but after finding out cardboard’s toxicity I switched to fun foam. Way too much time was spent making cardboard pieces look like my face in profile. The idea was that a book about me should look like me even in its shape.
The drawings were done using Adobe Photoshop CS5 and a Wacom Bamboo Tablet I picked up when I was in grad school.
A straight week of sleepless nights trying to make magic happen in Photoshop, I finished seven slides (technically 14 pages) telling my story from college until my return to Atlanta. At 4am, Friday, the awesome staff at FedEx Office (not joking, the people at the FedEx office in Buckhead are amazing, thank you all so much!) helped me finish printing. Below is the gallery of the raw slides telling my story and yes they look like a 2-year-old drew them.
I carved, glued and punched holes through the side of the book with a hobby knife and stuck metal rings to keep it all together. There were bits of fun foam flaking off but it was done!
There were several interactive bits for Declynn too. On the college page, my beard had yarn on it. For the D.C. page, there was an actual penny glued into the book. The best page was the one with the Dragon*con costumes. I made two little fun foam dolls of my Fury and Red Lantern costumes. There was velcro on the backs of them and you could place them over me on the opposite page.
It was all very intense and really difficult for me, but I loved it. I was able to turn the book in Friday morning, get a few brief words with one of their lead staffers and then go home and sleep. Turns out I wasn’t the only person to think of the book idea, but I was one of the first to get it in their hands. Also, I called them constantly to make sure I had a shot at an interview. Persistence.
The book did its job and I got an interview with Declynn himself! Since they kept my book, I used it to help tell my story to him. The usefulness of the book turned out to be far more incredible than I could have predicted. He reacted almost exactly as I hoped he would for every page. Plus, it guided me toward talking about the most important experiences in my life.