Another Christmas has swiftly found it's way around to encourage us all to celebrate and enjoy this heady season. It can be a very distracting time of year, not least because of all the fun Christmas festivities sprinkled throughout the lead-up. Yet, personally what I've found that largely tears me away from my focused freelance work routine, is the sudden desire to make Christmas cards, decorations, films. You name it! The possibilities are endless, and the idea of making a personally illustrated gift for each of my loved ones sounds positively achievable in the spirit of it all. As December closes in, so does the realisation that there isn't much time until Christmas! This year we restrained ourselves to a couple of films, a trio of card designs and a lo-fi decorated Christmas Corner at the home office.
It all started with an alphabet that I had scanned from a Typographer's Alphabet book from the Dover book store. I started to draw and ink letters from the Bradley Initials font, to spell 'Merry Christmas' and thought they would look fantastic in the antique font drawer that we had picked up on the streets of Kensal Rise a couple of years back. And they did! So much so that Yeshen and I had to take it to the next level. We grabbed the antique christmas decorations we had picked up from Yeshen's grandad in Bavaria earlier this year, dusted down the antique font drawer and prepared the antique-looking letters, for the stop motion we were about to make. The ideas were endless, but we decided to keep this one quite simple, with objects and letters appearing in the empty font drawer and a cameo from one wooden skier. Unfortunately we were missing a remote control and were equipped with a unsteady tripod, meaning the drawer jumps around a little in the final film. But a fun collaborative stop-motion effort nonetheless! I must confess though that instead of hand-inking the font for the end-titles, which would have taken at least half a day, I cheated and used the letters directly from the scanned font.
Whilst drawing the Merry Christmas letters, I thought it was a shame if they were only used for display, especially since it had taken almost a full day to draw and ink them all. So I decided to scan them in and use them for homemade Christmas cards. I drew a couple of Christmas looking characters, one of them being the lead character in a cycle animation that Panda Horse is making at the moment, and the other is just a plain whacky Christmas character, which I thought would work well with the font. One of the card designs displays the font on the front of the card and the other two feature it on the inside. I decided to just print them all from the home printer on some heavyweight paper, giving them that homemade quality.
The cards were printed and distributed, but Christmas was slowly closing in and we both had friends and family living abroad who we still needed to send our Christmas wishes to. It was increasingly possible that we would miss the cut-off deadline to ensure that it would safely land in everyone's hands before Christmas. So we turned our gazes to the instant communication powers of the World Wide Web and decided to make our very own ecard. (Plus any excuse to make a film is enough excuse for me!) The concept sprouted from my Dad's love of (or obsession with) snow globes and the story grew from there. We wanted to create something that diverted from the sickly sweet images of Christmas being force fed to people across the globe. So this animation took on a dark but fun-spirited narrative. I found it really fun combining live action footage with 2D drawings and animation, somewhat still inspired by the amalgamation of live action theatre and animation I had been a part of working on the Zauberföte with 1927. Once again the creative ideas and possibilities were endless, and the clock was ticking…..but we managed to make it and deliver it on time to all of our loved ones, and a piece of the film even found it's way into our lo-fi Christmas corner!