Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The Christmas Card Is Dead. Long Live The Christmas Car

I've made my own Christmas cards for as long as I can remember.

Right back to childhood - and as a full time illustration business, that tradition not only has to continue, it is EXPECTED to continue! No fan of the e-card or, heaven forbid, not sending anything at all, every summer sees me scratching my head with what to do for the approaching season, and it's always a lot of work. But it makes it all worthwhile when my inbox, Twitter feed and 
Insta mailboxes are full of people saying how much they enjoyed receiving their little piece of hand-finished illustration. 

This year the illustrations were based on a story about a time when the winter arrived, but the snow did not; it was too warm. The children were so determined to make a snowman that they went out and made one anyway - but from twigs and sticks. The front of the card shows the finished Twigman, his nose the traditional carrot and his eyes of the usual coal, and the inside is the scene by night after the children have long since gone to bed.

There he stands, proud and snowy, in his twinkling lights, without a flake having ever fallen.

Not only a seasonal message of determination and the power of improvisation and resourcefulness, it is, of course, a gentle acknowledgement of the reality of climate change too. Gentle because that message IS crucial, and horrifying, but the cards were arriving this year after a particularly turbulent and exhausting year for politics and the environment. I felt a little gentleness was very much needed.

The illustration of the snowman is made of black ink on A2 cartridge paper, and the scene inside of pencil and coloured inks. 

Every one of the {scary number of} cards was hand-written— printed in the UK on recycled and recyclable board, without non-recyclable finishes or glitter —each sent out in a pearlescent envelope, always in three different colours. For many years I would hand-write each envelope too, but in recent years, this is one tradition I've had to set aside, as there simply isn't time...or, it's not the best use of my time! Maybe it's one I'll resurrect if I can make a head start own this year's envelopes. (Every year you say that, Sarah.)

The annual Christmas mailing is a chance to reach out and touch clients friends, family and fans; a little physical something in a million screens of content flashing by. I don't judge a single soul who doesn't have time, inclination or resources to do the same - everyone has their own priorities - but for me, this is an essential piece of contact with the humans who make my work so rewarding.


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