Eventually I get it done, send off the files, and leave for Europe out of LAX. The Mondo team seemed to like it, but I’m useless at gauging any success so soon after completion. There’s no way of knowing if I have done a good thing or wasted everyone’s time. All I know is that a lot is riding on it for me personally. Many other artists love that movie and their opinions matter to me, but if a design only appeals to those who are familiar with the subject matter, it’s a failure in my mind. At this point, however, it’s too late to do anything now; I’ve truly done all I can.
Back on the train, I jolt awake as I feel a hand on my shoulder. It’s the ticket-taker who wants to stamp my passport before we arrive in Paris. As I work to shake off the fleeting remnants of my brief nap, I can’t seem to separate my dreams from reality. Did I imagine that text from Justin about how my poster was well received? I pull out my phone for verification, but it’s dead. Trying in vain to find stimulation on this slate grey cylinder of silence, I begin to nod off again.
Some time later, my dreams are interrupted by screeching brakes. Exiting the train I step onto Gare du Nord, whose grandeur and steel opulence would later become my muse for a Hugo poster.
The first thing I do is find an outlet, then fumble through a collection of European power adapters and finally plug in my computer. Exhaustion is still weighing me down, but I have to know about the Iron Giant poster. My computer flicks back to life and I’m bombarded with emails, tweets and Facebook posts, all of them complimentary. As I sift though links to online reviews, pictures from the event and notes of praise from other illustrators, a smile inches its way onto my granite face. The work has paid off. I pack up my gear, unmistakably reenergized. Stumbling out of the station, I correct my stride and vanish into the dusty luster of a golden morning in Paris.