the Lone Tepee, a Forgotten Masterpiece
You know what’s a good word?
Fun to say, cool to look at, it’s functional, spacious, sturdy yet easy to move. It’s a great time. I got to camp in a tepee as a kid. I don’t remember having any complaints. I was also eight, so that may have had something to do with it.
When I was little I went to day care for a few hours after school each day until my parents got out of work. That was pretty awesome; there were snacks, tons of blocks, I could claim I was doing homework and draw till my head exploded, and there was TV time. Back in the good old days that meant Animaniacs, Tiny Toons and that Peter Pan and the Pirates show where for some reason Peter Pan wore brown and had a cape. I think he had one of those awful little ponytails that’s more of a mullet tied together in the back. I’m also the only one of my friends who even remembers this show, but that’s OK. This place was awesome, and not just for the English muffin pizzas with little slices of hot dog instead of pepperoni Santa used to make. Santa was the cook. I swear to god, that was her name.
The couple who ran the place always felt like an extra set of grandparents for me. It may have been because they lived down the road from my actual grandparents, but I think it was more than that. Some days it was just my brother and me, and another kid and his brother, and Dave would tell us stories that may have been inappropriate for eight year olds. I had a pretty solid understanding of Pearl Harbor at a very young age, I’ll say that.
Now I said Dave and Joyce “lived down the road” from my grandparents because it was just that. Out in Eden, New York you’re down the road. Despite there being street names and even honest to goodness street signs on every corner just like in the big city, for the most part, this was a pretty rural area. They had a ton of land, it never ended. There was enough to take us on hikes, to have a hayride in the fall and for a while they even had a couple horses. The best parts of the hikes was pointing out a rusted old truck they claimed was a burned out ambulance that got worked into a ghost story later by the campfire and showing us where they buried the horses, which to a bunch of little boys was awesome.
By the way, they also built a friggin tepee. And the cool kids totally got to sleep in it. Now, I’ve slept in a caboose, I’ve slept at concerts, I’ve slept through Rambo which was scientifically proven to be the loudest movie ever made. I have fallen asleep while holding a hamburger up to my mouth. I have fallen asleep during jury duty. I have fallen asleep at weddings, funerals and even my high school graduation. I probably could have fallen asleep when I went skydiving but I have strict rules about losing consciousness while a fat middle-aged man is strapped to my back. And I have to say, sleeping in a tepee is pretty awesome.
I have no idea why I drew this tepee, the Lone Tepee. I found it last summer in a notebook when I was digging around in my attic; a notebook that had been my road trip journal for a vacation we took when I was ten. It could be the tepee from summer camp, since they did have only one, but more likely I just started doodling and decided to name it. Why is it leaning over like that?
I scanned it in but didn’t know what I was going to do with it, so it sat there as something for me to laugh at when going through the folder of unfinished projects. Then I got a little frustrated with a few things I was working on. A couple designs I posted didn’t get the response I wanted, not that anything gets a huge response. I really liked the one, too. It turned out great. Great contrast, great color, simple, clean; it was exactly what I wanted it to be. I even tied a blog post into the design with pictures and links, hoping to generate a little traffic that way as well. Considering the range of work available on Society6, that particular design was just boring, basic, and rudimentary. I’m still proud of it; I love how it turned out. Let’s be honest, if I only posted things that I thought blew the rest of Society6 away, I’d have an empty shop with a profile picture. While I don’t think I’m the greatest things to happen graphic design since the slide rule, I’m proud of everything I’ve made.
But we live in an age of Facebook likes, retweets and little Instagram hearts to tell us we’re going a good job. Those likes mean people are looking, and elbowing their friends to look as well. Without that there’s no possibility of someone noticing and being willing to spend the twenty bucks on an art print or coffee mug with something clever on it. So forgetting the possibility of monetary validation, when an idea that took shape now sits ignored, lacking in proof that someone has at least taken notice, frustration will seep in.
A few days later I was tired, frustrated and watching Green Lantern. Yeah, the Ryan Reynolds one. Clearly I was emotionally vulnerable and prone to making poor decisions. As a joke I posted the Lone Tepee, my grand masterpiece of age ten.
It immediately got three likes.