Good Morning, This is Steve Mayer, the guy behind the Bird Dog Bay brand. Frequently, the question I’m asked to field most when chatting with fans is “What’s your inspiration for your designs?” After years of our marketing manager hammering me to write a weekly blog describing my illustrations and the stories behind them, I’m now waving my white flag. Every week, I’ll provide fans with a bit of a glimpse into the hundred or so designs I create each year. I’m known among friends to be a bit of an embellished story teller, so bear with me: short and sweet is not the Mayer way! Anyway, I hope you find it interesting as the rest of my team thinks you will enjoy it…
Elephant Club Med
Design #287 – Portfolio Entry #5
What is it with fans of Bird Dog Bay and these Elephant patterns? Who’s buying these? After hunting and fishing themes, the other animal theme I’m encouraged to cover when illustrating my collections are goofy little elephants. Year in and year out. Why? I haven’’t have the slightest idea…
What started with a Christmas tie with elephants balancing wrapped gifts on their noses called “White Elephant” tumbled into “Elephant Bath” then “Out of Africa” then “Poll Position” then “Wet Trunks” then “Big Five” then “Lucky Trunks” then “Pink Elephants” getting us to my current design of “Elephant Club Med”.
We have elephant everything: socks; cufflinks; linen pocket squares; belts; bow ties; key chains and cummerbunds. I was just commissioned to designed a custom elephant themed shirt for one of our accounts. If I’ve learned anything in this crazy business it’s that Elephant patterns sell. I saw more of that Lilly Pulitzer shift dress pattern last year than any other clothing pattern in public, although that may say something about the circles I run with while on the road peddling my wares. We have a nice footprint in the state of Alabama for all those Roll Tide fans, and of course, all you staunch Republicans. But, even then, it doesn’t seem to add up to the strange volume of elephant themed products we move from my Chicago studio. One thought may be that PT Barnum has an enormous extended family of men’s clothing accessory horders. That seems like a plausible answer.
It’s not as if anyone has any personal kinship with them, they aren’t walking on retractable leashes down Michigan Avenue, you don’t see them swimming north up the Mississippi delta, people generally don’t like seeing them in captivity at zoos or at the circus. Their jokes are famously known as terrible and for some reason an upward elephant trunk is considered good luck, though nobody knows exactly why.
I start designing the Spring 2016 collection this week and I have a few ideas for next year’s new elephant tie. One is of our hapless little guys drifting down from the sky with umbrellas clutched in their trunks, some with their umbrella folded outward as they plummet South. Not sure where I thought of that one, my childhood orthodontists wallpaper? Was that a jacket cover for an old Shel Silverstein book? Or maybe I’ll have our little gray scuba swimmers with trunks above the surface while one confused little bird perched on a single trunk peers down into their hypothetical blow hole. With 2016 being an election year, I recently sketched a cartoonish elephant mid swing at the tee box driving golf bal ls at a hapless donkey hauling down the fairway with his tail between his legs. Though that would require I’d have to do the complimenting design of that same frustrated donkey bucking our little African swinger into a water hazard full of chomping alligators. I’ve had worse ideas… At this point, it seems I could swap “Dogs Playing Poker” with our wrinkly gray friends and our fans would think that’s perfectly acceptable and send in their accolades. It seems the odder the better for our fans as our elephant portfolio continues to grow.
Either way, you’ve got our whimsical Serengeti heroes on a well deserved holiday at “Elephant Club Med” to hold you over until I put pencil to paper for next spring’s collection. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoy thinking about and drawing them. I especially like the turquoise and fuchsia colorways when paired with small bright colored Bird Dog Bay gingham shirts.