Elephant Dreams

A  pproximately one year and seven months ago, below the boughs of 100 sleeping redwood trees, and inside the walls of a semi-endearing-but-mostly-dilapidated 1950s ranch cottage, the idea for Good Juju Ink took tangible shape, plopped itself in my lap, and demanded my complete and undivided attention. “Your life is going to change now,” it said. “It’s time.” And then, just like that, it did.

You see, I was raised a performer. I’d spent the entirety of my childhood, adolescence, and young adult years in Hollywoodland, growing myself up far sooner than I should have but precisely as I was expected to given the nature of the entertainment industry. And by the time I was twenty-eight years old, I was exhausted. Utterly. Exhausted. While I had often defended the acting world—deflecting judgments and stereotypes about the cruelty of its apathetic and superficial players, the impossibility of its arbitrary odds, and the inescapable consequences of having to focus on such fickle transients like beauty and fame—I found myself unable to defend any longer. My joy for performing had become lost amidst my playing by the rules of its game.  And I was done. 

And so, with my self-worth stuck to the bottom of my shoe and my bank account the size of a booger, I moved to Northern California. I made the move alongside the boy next door (a boy who would later become my husband) with the hopes of finding the beat of my own heart again and with the deepest, rumbliest, knowing that I needed to let something go to let something in. And then somewhere between “I’m dying” and “I’m dead”, I picked up a pencil. I picked up a pencil and literally (meaning literally literally, not the “ermahgod I literally died” version of literally) could not stop drawing. I was drawing through to all hours of the night-turned-morning. I drew my family. I drew things that made me laugh. I drew stories from my childhood. I drew…elephants. I drew a LOT of elephants. Why the hell was I drawing elephants, I HAD NO IDEA. But I was. And I couldn’t stop. And then about a month into the move, it dawned on me: I was drawing elephants because their existence looked as impossible as my existence felt. I was drawing something that reflected, tangibly, what I could not put into words about myself and my current circumstances. These elephants, and their little vignette stories of joy and despair that I was crafting---were actually different iterations of myself. I was using the imagery of animals to teach me about my humanity. And the beauty of that irony struck me. It struck me so hard I nearly fell out of my chair. The power of illustration to illuminate the universal connectedness of all living things made me want to completely rewrite the story of my life. I needed to spread the magic of illustration immediately. I needed to----holy crap, I NEED TO MAKE CARDS. 

Ah yes, and then I did.

Juju drawing LOTS of elephants