Sunday, December 23, 2012

Ghosts of Christmas Cards Past

Every Fall, the annual challenge of designing my Christmas card creeps up on me.  I really like doing it, and love getting cards from animation friends who do the same.  I thought I'd share some of my better ones from the past 28 years.
"Pees on Earth"  2004
The idea of creating my own cards came from the great Tee Hee.  I was his student at CalArts, and we bonded over our love for whimsy.  He brought in an album - his own personal collection - of Christmas cards designed by him, as well as cards designed by fellow Disney and U.P.A. artists.  It was an album worthy of a coffee table book.   The level of craftsmanship and creativity devoted to their cards was jaw-droppingly impressive. As Tee turned the pages, he told brief anecdotes about the artist, or explained an inside joke.  He tapped one particular card and said, "He was a really talented guy.....but his head fell off."  He didn't elaborate.  I have often wondered what became of that album; a real treasure. 
"  I  t    m  u  s  t    b  e    C  h  r  i  s  t  m  a  s  .  "   1988

I did my first card in 1984, an ink drawing which I had Pip Printing print on card stock.  It was not in the same league as Tee's cards, but it was mine.  Friends and family were duly impressed with my efforts, so I was encouraged to continue on my own holiday tradition. 

A side note regarding holiday traditions: people have things they do every year that, over time, become traditions.  If you try to change the tradition, or - gasp!-  opt out, there's hell to pay.  So what started as a very nice thing to do becomes an obligatory black hole from which no matter can escape.  So please, don't let your traditions become a holiday black hole.  Thank you.
"Don't eat the oyster stuffing!"   2002
Back to the subject - getting ideas is like returning to the same fishing hole once a year hoping to catch the best fish ever.  Some years, the fish aren't biting. In 2001, I wasn't working and made a flip book (whew!).  I try to come up with puns, or  plays on words, though the best cards have had some personal connection.   I have learned the hard way not to put it off designing a card until December - my absolute worst cards were created at the last minute, with an uninspired concept.  I find myself sucked into my own holiday black hole.  
"Dean Stockton, the kid who ruined Christmas forever."  1990  A true story!
This year's card was created over Thanksgiving weekend, a few days after my father passed away.  In the wake of that, I couldn't just make a gag or Christmas pun, nor did I want something morose or maudlin.  When I thought about Dad and Christmas, his homemade eggnog came to mind.  He made it every Christmas as long as I can remember.  As a child, I thought it looked beautiful but tasted freaky - a rum milkshake is an acquired taste.  Sometime in the '80's I developed a taste for alcoholic beverages (another skill learned at CalArts) and Dad taught me his secret recipe.  
"Sending you holiday cheer."  2012
With social media and e-mail, a lot of friends who used to print their own simply send the jpeg file over the internet.  They save time (lazy bastards), and money on printing and postage (cheap bastards).  They put great work into the creating a card, but the tactile, keepsake part is missing.  Welcome to my holiday black hole.

That's all for now.  I wish you all an easy, low stress, high calorie holiday.  And next year - make cards!

1 comment:

  1. I think a book of Christmas cards from animator's would be a great idea. Sign me up. Sue Blanchard has been doing a series of wonderfully charming cards on facebook this season. Love your dad's holiday cheer instructional card!