I’m not a “something from nothing” designer. Rather than ideas just forming in my mind, everything I’ve ever done has been inspired by something I’ve seen somewhere else. I don’t draw or paint, and I’m not a skilled graphic artist who can create original digital images. Although I am skilled at manipulating photos and other digital images, rarely do I ever create something “from scratch.” At times, I’ll get a little down on myself for my lack of originality, but I’m comforted by the scripture verse from Ecclesiastes 1:9, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun” (NIV). Only God can create something from nothing.
So when asked to write about my Elephants Fly Collection Biggie, I smiled a little sheepishly to myself. A digital scrapbooking collection with a name like “Elephants Fly” – there’s got to be a great story behind it, right? Well, not really. It started with something unoriginal, something created by someone else. But I’ll tell you about it anyway.
I was flipping through my artist magazines, which I’m prone to do when I’m looking for inspiration. Initially, I was looking for an idea for an artist trading card (ATC), and I ran across a collage art card that featured an elephant with butterfly wings. I was immediately drawn to the image, but it didn’t fit with the theme I was working with, so I passed it by.
I finished that ATC using inspiration from another source, but the image of the elephant with the butterfly wings refused to leave my thoughts. Later, as I was looking through my clip art collection, I ran across the same elephant image that the artist in the magazine used. At that point, I thought I’d use my supplies to recreate that flying elephant, using the inspiration piece as a guide. I painted him up and tried different wings on him – butterfly wings, bird’s wings, angel wings. I put him in a bed of clip art flowers, like I’d seen in the magazine. And I said to myself, “There. I can do that!”
I was having such fun! To me, the winged elephant represented the concept of making the impossible a reality. That was calling to me, tugging me in that direction. Somewhere along the way, I asked myself a question, “Do I dare build a digital scrapbooking collection around this one image?” The idea seemed far-fetched, but to my heart, it seemed wonderful!
And so it happened. The elephant and I were on a journey together. I took him to one of my favorite hangouts, the blog that has the most amazing color palettes. We came back with some samples and put our favorites together on a color strip. With that in hand, the flying elephant and I went searching for more inspiration. First, we looked at my stash of stuff and pulled out what would work. We talked about what he would want on a journey around the world. A globe, of course. A compass? Absolutely. Pencil and paper to journal his memories, feathers, tickets – all seemed appropriate. And he would want backgrounds that would remind him of his home, the circus.
After that, we left home and went to the Library of Congress and looked at carnival images and vintage circus posters. Then we searched farther, even as far as the magical world of Pintrest! In our travels, we gathered fancy velvet and rough canvas textures, bits and pieces of ephemera, examples of typography, and quotes from famous dreamers.
With the elephant at my side, I sat down to do the work of putting it all together. But it didn’t seem like work – that’s how I knew I was on the right track. The collection took on a life of its own. And there was so much stuff, it wouldn’t all fit into one collection. And now, you have it – Elephants Fly Collection Biggie, plus additional coordinating products!
Now that it’s done, I could say that I created something new, but none of it is really new, is it? It’s just borrowed from someone or somewhere else. Perhaps I could say that I took something that inspired me and made it my own. But that’s not it either. The little winged elephant I saw in a magazine was put together by an artist who used pieces she found somewhere else. It wasn’t completely hers, and it’s not mine either. But the elephant became part of me, and we are both changed.
Now it’s your turn. I’ve put this collection out into the world to be used by you. When you do, you will become part of the process. It will be changed in your hands, and I hope that it will become part of you as it has become part of me. What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again. And we will be connected. Seems impossible, doesn’t it? Well, when Elephants Fly, nothing is impossible!
About Elisha: http://www.scrapgirls.com/AboutUs/AU_ElishaBarnett.htm
Elisha’s store: http://store.scrapgirls.com/manufacturer/126/Elisha-Barnett