For Inspiration: “Let Dream Tell You a Story” from The Sandman

Even if you’re not a comic book fan, you’ve probably heard of Netflix’s adaptation of The Sandman. In this short video, Tom Sturridge is the ASMR of your dreams.

Even if you’re not a comic book fan, you’ve probably heard of Netflix’s adaptation of The Sandman, since it was one of the most popular shows according to Variety.

The Sandman is a comic book written by Neil Gaiman and published by DC Comics. Its artists include Sam KiethMike DringenbergJill ThompsonShawn McManusMarc HempelBryan Talbot, and Michael Zulli, with lettering by Todd Klein and covers by Dave McKean. The original series ran for 75 issues from January 1989 to March 1996. Beginning with issue No. 47, it was placed under DC’s Vertigo imprint, and following Vertigo’s retirement in 2020, reprints have been published under DC’s Black Label imprint.

In this short video, Dream tells you a story. This is the Tom Sturridge ASMR of your dreams—you’re welcome!

For Inspiration: “Let Dream Tell You a Story” from The Sandman

My Connection to The Sandman

If you knew me growing up, I’ve probably told you about how The Sandman is incredible! Not because I’m a comic book fan, but because of a) Neil Gaiman’s incredibly universe-expanding storytelling, b) Dave McKean‘s exquisite artwork for the covers, and c) how dreams are the stuff that designers live for:

Neil Gaiman’s Storytelling

Mr. Gaiman is now an accomplished writer and producer, and his work has been adapted to Film (like Stardust and Coraline), TV (like Good Omens and American Gods), and Theater (like the Ocean at the End of the Lane). Back in 1989 he was still trying to find his voice in the comic genre with Sandman. The first eight issues were deep into Vertigo’s horror.

When I took my first trip to London, my sister Iara asked me if I could bring some Sandman issues, and I found a copy of A Game of You, signed by Bryan Talbot. Reading it on the plane on the way back to Brazil got me curious, but I didn’t get into the series until Dream Country.

Then Fables and Reflections came along, and I was totally hooked! I even got a copy signed by Neil Gaiman himself! Long story short: I’ve been patiently waiting for some adaptation of Sandman to the Big Screen!

Dave McKean’s exquisite artwork

Sandman's Issue 38
Sandman #38 “Convergence” is an issue of the series Sandman (Volume 2) with a cover date of June, 1992 (DC Fandom)

When I took that trip to London, I was in my first semester of Graphic Design undergrad program. I had already dabbed my feet into photography and graphic design programs at that time we slowly switching over from traditional crafts to digital.

Dave McKean’s artwork for the Sandman cover had a huge influence on my craft: when I showed my friends the cover of issue 38 and none of the “Photoshop Experts” could figure out how it was done (spoiler alert: old-school darkroom photography manipulation techniques!), I decided I wanted to write my final paper.

I grabbed a copy of Sandman’s Dust Covers and did an in-depth graphical analysis of every single cover! It was like seeing the transition from analog photography to digital manipulation unfold in front of my eyes!

The saying goes that Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery! So McKean’s style influence me for years! I’ve even paid a “homage” to Small Book of Black and White Lies in my wedding invitation! (I’ll post a photo here once I dig it up from our moving boxes!)

How Dreams are the Stuff that Designers Live for

In my work as a designer, I’ve found that Storytelling is a powerful tool to help teams detach from the status quo, and allow themselves to dream of better futures.

Telling stories about the future, particularly while concepts are being explored, can trigger more concepts and help speculate on how they will be valuable in future scenarios.

Kumar, V., “Mindsets” in 101 design methods (2013)

Sometimes it is not enough only to speculate what the future could look like: we need to help the team dream of the future (no matter how ridiculous it may seem) and ask, “what needs to be true to make this happen?” That’s the only way to let the status quo go and imagine real innovative scenarios!

“Any useful statement about the future should appear to be ridiculous.”

“Dator’s Law” in Thinking about the future: Guidelines for strategic foresight (Hines, A., & Bishop, P., 2015)
beach bench boardwalk bridge

Strategy and the Importance of Vision

Let’s talk about the importance of vision for creating shared understanding around why are we bringing a product to market in the first place.

Netflix’s adaptation of Sandman is awesome, and it reminded me of the importance of dreams! You should definitely check it out!

By Itamar Medeiros

Originally from Brazil, Itamar Medeiros currently lives in Germany, where he works as Director of Design Strategy at SAP.

Working in the Information Technology industry since 1998, Itamar has helped truly global companies in multiple continents create great user experience through advocating Design and Innovation principles. During his 7 years in China, he promoted the User Experience Design discipline as User Experience Manager at Autodesk and Local Coordinator of the Interaction Design Association (IxDA) in Shanghai.

Itamar holds a MA in Design Practice from Northumbria University (Newcastle, UK), for which he received a Distinction Award for his thesis Creating Innovative Design Software Solutions within Collaborative/Distributed Design Environments.

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