Deep Dive: Dream Journal by Extra Crunchy

Posted by Jasen Robillard on

StumpCraft Dream Journal Puzzle - Loch Ness DragonArtist: Extra Crunchy
Puzzle Designers: Jasen Robillard & Extra Crunchy
Dimensions: 24.5 cm x 33.0 cm
Piece Count: 256
Difficulty: 2 out of 5

Extra Crunchy is the moniker for the nomadic and talented duo comprised of Rafi & Tutti Byron. Originally hailing from Tel Aviv, Rafi and Tutti are constantly pushing their skills by traveling the world from their home base in Vancouver. They merge animation, augmented reality and digital media to create multi-dimensional visual art. You'll find them splashing paint at music and street art festivals, and sending positive vibes to open-hearted and free-minded people around the globe.

'Dream Journal' depicts a young lucid dreamer recalling his latest liminal vision. With the help of his powerful and hopeful imagination, the boy evokes the safety of a lush, vibrant jungle as well as the guardian spirits protecting the great treasure within. Headlamp illuminating his journal, he writes down the critical elements of his dream before they vanish into oblivion once more.

The artwork was originally sketched out by Tutti, and then refined in Procreate by both Rafi and Tutti over the course of 6 months.


Lightly watermarked reference image
Note, reference images are watermarked to prevent unauthorized printing of our artist's work, as well as copycat puzzles which have become common since 2020.

Extra Crunchy Digital Art Gallery

Shop: Extra Crunchy - Dream Journal 

Puzzle Design Notes

Dragons are the most majestic of “monsters” inhabiting our dreams, myths and archetypes. Regardless of the origins of these myths, draconic creatures appear in virtually all cultures around the globe. According to anthropologist David E. Jones, dragons are traditionally said to reside in "dank caves, deep pools, wild mountain reaches, sea bottoms, haunted forests", all places which would have been fraught with danger for our early human ancestors. 

I myself have a fascination with myths and the dragons that often inhabit our most popular fantasies. For reasons that elude me, I have been resistant and even rebellious to the notion that one should fear dragons. Let’s call it an early appreciation for Jonathan Haidt’s work and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). In group and family settings, I’ve even counseled against building up walls to contain the dragons we fear. By doing so we then often grow fearful of the walls we’ve built themselves, necessitating further wall building and the weakening of our innate resolve and resiliency. Our fears in this way, feed the imaginary dragon and make it larger than life.

One fascinating aspect of dragon mythology is how the “hoarding of treasure” has shifted across cultures and history. A dragon’s hoard often mirrors what is most treasured by humanity: rain in early Eastern myths (the predictability of crop harvests), wealth (gold), purity & nobility (innocent princesses to rescue).

"[The dragon] is driven to hunt out

hoards underground, to guard heathen gold

through age-long vigils, though to little avail."

 Beowulf (v. 2275-77)

Dreamwork’s “How to Tame Your Dragon” series has been at the forefront of recent myth reframing about dragons. These movies suggest that in some cases, it might be best to tame and befriend the dragons in your midst rather than slay and overcome them. These movies (among other modern dragon stories) also hint that intrinsic goals are at least as important as extrinsic ones: the ultimate treasure worth protecting is potential. The golden dragon egg thus becomes the ultimate object worthy of treasuring. As such the dragon presents itself as a symbol of parental protection & nourishing the future.

One of the best means of taming my own dragons over the last few years has been the practice of journaling. I recall being invited to journal in my teens but it just never took. I felt intimidated by not knowing how to do it well, and I wasn’t really provided a healthy framework for regular practice. It all just seemed a little silly to be talking to paper and addressing it “Dear Journal”.

To a certain extent, my present journaling practice was kindled by social media wherein the daily practice of putting thoughts down was encouraged with social validation in the form of likes and comments. That social validation still comes into play, but since 2017, I’ve been diligently adding to a private digital journal every few days. My format and process is fluid, low stakes, and without rigid agenda. Shining a light into the dark recesses of my mind remains endlessly fascinating and fruitful. I’ve adopted a bullet-point format that simply allows me to highlight and reflect on the most interesting and meaningful things I come across. Items that are particularly meaningful tend to resurface at appropriate times. It has become one of my favorite activities to do, especially when I’m winding down on weekends. 

I’ve assembled a shortlist of journaling resources, tips and tricks below:

  • Similar to meditation, doing a bit is better than not doing it at all. At first, do whatever makes it easy and regular. Lean on your Atomic Habits skills.
  • Michael Balchan on How & Why to Keep a Journal
  • “Journaling, I believe, is a practice that teaches us better than any other the elusive art of solitude — how to be present with our own selves, bear witness to our experience, and fully inhabit our inner lives." - Maria Popova at The Marginalian

If you’re embarking on your own journaling adventure for the first time, put yourself in the Dream Journal child’s large red shoes and ask yourself the following:

“If I could befriend and tame my inner dragons, what would I train it to do? What noble quests might we be able to accomplish together?”

In this way, may you prove that the pen is mightier than the sword.

Whimsy List

  • Multi-piece whimsies
    • Sea Dragon
    • Winged Dragon
    • 2x Dragon Eggs
    • 2x Dream Birds
    • 2x Reptiles
    • Dream fish
    • Scroll
  • Single piece
    • 10x Jungle Foliage
    • 3x Masks
    • 4x Other Dragons
    • Flashlight
    • Pen & Sword
    • Pen Nib
    • Sun Temple

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