Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Elephant in a Tree

What is it about this sketch that makes people want to permanently make it part of their body?


Several months ago, I somehow ran across the Flickr page of Dave Navarro, formerly of Red Hot Chili Peppers and current lead guitarist of Jane's Addiction. Apparently he had the image tattooed on himself and his daughter. I thought it was unusual but I was flattered.

Yesterday I read the comments on that blog entry. A couple of other people said they wanted the tattoo as well. I'm cool with that. I'm just wondering what it is about this drawing that makes folks want to wear it? Is it Freudian?

Originally this was a doodle for a picture book idea I had after telling my kids a bedtime story. Maybe it's an omen of sorts, telling me I need to go ahead and do that book. Or become a tattoo artist.
That's the problem with omens. They're always so vague.

26 comments:

  1. I read somewhere that Dr. Seuss got the idea for Horton Hatches the Egg (which predates the hearing of a Who) when a breeze blew a sketch of an elephant onto the top of a completely separate drawing of a tree, and the combination caught his interest.

    Maybe there's some sort of primal attraction at play here.

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  2. That's pretty cool! I haven't heard that before.

    In fact, I never even drew the relation with Horton. I'm sure I must have read the book when I was young, but I can't picture it.

    I'd better drop the idea, I guess, as it'd look like I was ripping off Dr. Seuss. I imagine that's not looked upon kindly. I've already been through that this year with Blitz, being accused of ripping off Jeff Smith's "Bone." It's no fun.

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  3. ive had this picture saved to my computer for a year now bc i have wanted it for a tattoo for a long time and am so excited to get it as a tattoo this week!

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  4. Too cool! If you want, send me a photo of the tattoo when you get it done and I'll post it on the blog.

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  5. I am a thespian, and have been an actor in the play, Seussical! The Musical, which is based on the stories of Dr. Seuss. In the story Horton and the Egg, he is sitting on a nest, in a tree, to keep the egg warm. The egg was abandoned by Mayzie La Bird, a wildchild girl woman who would rather party then be a mom. Horton ends up warming the egg until it hatches, and the creature inside is an elephant bird.

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  6. http://hphotos-sjc1.fbcdn.net/hs490.snc3/26783_636736977293_46205647_36088953_8126354_n.jpg

    hopefully this works, got it yesterday! love it!

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  7. I haven't had and interest tattooing this image onto my body, but that is probably do to the fact that I am not a "tattoo person." I do, however, really enjoy this sketch. For me, I think the interest stems from the whimsical, child-like nature of the image. It reminded me of Winnie the Pooh and a possible scenario Pooh and Christopher Robin might find themselves in. I really enjoy the incompleteness of the sketch and how it can lead to several different conclusions. I didn't see the immediate connection between your image and Dr. Seuss's "Horton Hears A Who;" and, though I do not know the nature of the story you had in mind for this image, I feel that you should pursue it further. With your unique hand and what I would hope is a unique story I don't feel anyone will think that you are copying Dr. Seuss. And if they do, who cares.

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  8. I just came across this on a google search for tree tattoos. I am in love with it. Originally I wanted to put in the elements of a pink elephant in a tattoo but also wanted to incorporate a tree of sorts for the symbolism. This is perfect because it incorporates the two. Permanently etched! =)

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  9. Another elephant tattoo! Awesome. Thank you for letting me know.

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  10. I am getting this image as my first tattoo ever! I love elephants and always have so I did a google search to get some ideas I saw this sketch and just thought it was amazing. It is totally different and I just love it. Soon to be permanently a part of me.

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  11. Awesome! I must be in the wrong line of work.

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  12. wow.... i don't get how people want that to be on their skin but i would love to know how the elephant got up there :)

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  13. I've had this sketch tattooed on me for the past year now and its everyones favorite tattoo i have. Its located on my forearm and is just the sketch with no color. I plan on leaving it that way and engulfing it with vibrant colored tattoos.. :)

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  14. I also am getting it tattooed on me, To me it means always remember family. It is the best sketch I have ever seen of its kind,

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  15. love this pic and was wanting it tattooed on me.... didn't realize how popular it was tho.....

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  16. I just tattooed this on someone, with my own modifications, of course!

    http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6137/5975157210_b0dfce9bd2_b.jpg

    Enjoy!

    Dr. Slick

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  17. I was going to tattoo this on myself just today thought i would share why ...I'm a female tattoo artist and just lost my grams who collected elephants not a few but thousands of them she collected for as long as I can remember she was 92 and she just passed a few days ago I was looking for an elephant tattoo on Google as an idea I will be altering this just a little bit adding a kid into the 2 kids I have 3 kids and this said to me when I seen it that anything is possible, and it was also a memorial tattoo that was still sweet and funny that I could include the kids in as seeing grams as that woman that could do the impossible like I always seen her she was an amazing lady... so Thank you very much for the inspirational piece even if it came from a bedtime story it has meaning in different aspects of life to different people... I read that your okay with people using this as a Tattoo so thank you very much for helping me with this moment that turned sadness to a happier note =) ...so do that book if you haven't or tattoo life's to short to have limits enjoy it while you can use your talents ...peace and thanks again

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  18. I love hearing everyones take on this sketch. I learnt of Ted Dawson just through flicking through cartoon images on google and fell in love with this particular sketch and a lot of his other work. I had it tattood on the inside of my arm couple years ago now but never new how many people including a hero of mine Dave navarro had this as a tattoo, this only makes me happier to have it and proud of Ted Dawson, I also have had it changed only a lil in making the boy and girl clearer figures.. Good work Ted draw some more tattoos I have a whole arm Todo lol haha

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  19. I bought a shirt with this drawing on it, loved it on sight! And I plan to also have it tattooed on my leg later on. Thank you for this creative gem

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  20. Hi Ted,

    Just wanted to say thanks for the sketch. We used the image to create the baby card for our daughter Neelie was was born last Tuesday. Using your sketch my sister drew, re-drew and coloured the elephant using a Wacom sketchpad and photoshop. We are really pleased with the result and have received many positive reactions. At one point we added some red in the background to give the suggestion of an African sun. It turned out wrong as it looked like an elephant escaping a bushfire. Not sure why we wanted an elephant in a tree (or what that symbolises) but your sketch was exactly what we had in mind. Many thanks for posting and allowing people to use your fine work! The link to a scan of end product is http://imgur.com/N69zO

    If you want I can send you a card, just need the address!

    Many thanks!

    Daniel (The Hague, the Netherlands).

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    1. That's very cool, Daniel. I feel honored. Your sister did a great job, and congratulations on the birth of your daughter!

      Ted

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  21. Hey,

    This is crazy! I must have had this image in my subconscience... I am an Artist myself, and lost my mom a few years back. She was everything a Mom should be and so much more. She loved elephants...collected them every chance she got. I drew an almost identical picture as a tattoo idea for myself and have put it away for mothers day. Its Momma elephant up in the tree with trunk hanging down to scoop up a baby elephant. To me it symbolizes My Mom guiding my way to heaven (back to her). She also was the one person I could count on to no matter what my situation was to remind me that anything is possible...Hence...An Elephant up a tree! I dont know if I ever saw your sketch or if we were on the same wavelength...but it makes me curious now that I see how many people this touches. My drawing is really dang close...and it came out of my pea brain haha...Wow!

    -LittleBaloo

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    1. That's pretty cool. I love synchronicity. I'd like to see your drawing sometime. If you want, you can find my email at my website, www.teddawson.com.

      Ted

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  22. Ted, your work is inspiring! One of my good friends made a rendition of your original art, I really would like to use her drawing but did not realize you created this art work first. Is there any way I would be able to use her rendition of your art work for my T-shirt company. It fits perfect in our clothing line. I can send the image I created via Email or whatever media that works best. I would appreciate it tremendously!

    Thank you Ted,

    Paul "Jeep" Eddy

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    1. Paul, if you go to my website, www.teddawson.com, you can contact me, send me the image, and let me know what you have in mind.

      Ted

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