Handprinted Christmas cards on Kraft card made from 100% recycled materials
Why I decided to make and design Christmas Cards this year
This year I finally got myself together and set up my business for selling my prints, and starting taking making art more seriously, putting all my efforts into eventually becoming a full time working artist/printmaker/illustrator.
I follow a lot of different artists and makers and it seemed like generally, as for many businesses large and small, the holiday season is the busiest. Everybody seems to do something special for the holidays, so I thought I would try to partake for my first year. Even though having just started, I am in a way still setting up certain areas of the business, so I did not have time to plan a holiday season properly, I still wanted to give myself at least one project for the holidays.
For some reason, my instinct was initially to step away from any holiday related designs. I think I saw myself as too serious of an artist for it. But then I realised, what if I was ever presented with an opportunity to design a Christmas card from some other source as a collaboration? Would I turn something like that down? No, I would probably find a way to make it my own, since I am massively interested in opportunities involving illustration for the future. So then why not do that for myself, and design some Christmas cards that I actually liked?
The making of Surreal Santa and Bored Angel
I instantly had the idea for Surreal Santa. Surrealism is my favourite art movement and the most influential to my work, and I just thought this was so funny (to me, at least, but maybe other artists/art fanatics?). I imagined an image of Santa made up of a wide array of different Christmassy symbols, and instantly knew that I wanted his moustache to be replaced by cherubs.
After that, I got to work. Ordinarily I would have gone to the library for this but alas, due to the times I did some googling to hone down what the different Christmas related symbols are, and I treated this exactly as I would a regular collage (which is a technique the surrealists loved, especially during the Dada movement which preceded Surrealism, with many of the artists developing their work from one movement to the other).
Some of the symbols that came up and that I ended up using are: spiders, the flower poinsettia, candles, candy, cherubs, angels, stars, snowflakes, wreaths. There were others I didn't include like: donkeys, camels, doves, sheep. Basically a lot of symbolism comes from the nativity scene.
Some not as well known Christmas stories:
Two of these elements were more surprising to me, and I think their stories are less known to most people: that of poinsettias and spiders.
Here is the story about poinsettias. It is apparently a Mexican story of a girl who was poor and could only bring weeds as a gift to Jesus during Christmas service. Once she entered the church, they bloomed into beautiful red flowers. You can find the lovely story behind poinsettias here: https://www.whychristmas.com/customs/poinsettia.shtml.
Another Christmas story I didn't know as well regarded the spider. I loved the story so much and I was so sure I wanted to include it on the card. However, I had one major issue: I am completely terrified of spiders, to where I cannot look at one for more than a second without getting instant chills and imagining a thousand spiders on me instantly. I wanted to confront this fear for the sake of art making, and look at some reference photos to be able to draw a beautiful spider, but alas I couldn't, so I settled for a tiny one on Santa's hat. Maybe I will be forced to properly illustrate a spider another day.
I cannot remember the blog I found this story on so I will try to re-tell it as well as possible. One Christmas eve, the lady of the house was making preparations. She had cleaned each and every corner, and banished all spiders to the furthest corners of the house, and removed their webs. Then, she started setting up the tree. As she left the room and started preparing the food in the kitchen, the spiders slowly started gathering back to the centre of the room, staring at the beautiful tree, how enticing were those branches! How they would dance among them if they could! And so they did. They went to the tree and danced all over, leaving behind their webs. When they were tired, they went back home. Santa Claus arrived, and the lady was still in the kitchen making food. He noticed the tree full of webs, and realised what must have happened. So as not to upset the lady of the house, he made the webs silver and gold, and thus they looked like tinsel. This is then why we use tinsel to decorate our Christmas Trees.
My collaboration with Fabrica Gallery, whereby I donate 10% of proceeds
Another exciting news this project has brought by is my collaboration with Fabrica Gallery for the next couple of months! I have wanted to make a system whereby I donate a percentage of the proceeds from my work for a while now, and this came at a perfect time. I am beyond excited to start this process with Fabrica Gallery!
I have been involved with this gallery since my first year at the University in Brighton (more than three years ago...yikes). I started by volunteering, which I have been doing ever since. I then had a year long marketing internship with them, helped on a year long project for one of their summer exhibitions as a project assistant (which involved working with people with complex needs), and have been doing freelance work with them on multiple occasions ever since.
There are no words for the respect I have for everybody in this organisation. Fabrica does incredible work in the community, contributing directly to the wellbeing of different groups, such as isolated older folks, children from families with lower incomes, people suffering from dementia, and many others. Their programmes include Going to See Culture Together, Men in Sheds, Activate, Chomp and others. Find out more about Fabrica, as well as how to get involved with them or support them through memberships or one time donations here: https://www.fabrica.org.uk/donate.
This is an incredible organisation that I truly think is essential to Brighton, and will become even more so in the coming months and years.