Ho ho ho... A Very [Insert franchise name here] Christmas

First, I'd just like to wish a very happy and peaceful Christmas to both my readers!

Apparently, 'tis the season to send badly designed Christmas cards to people that you don't know very well, in the hope of generating a bit of oul' business. For, as it was once told to me by a wizened old marketing professional -you can send all the flyers you want during the course of a year but people will only remember the Christmas card.

I agree -but only if the card is worth looking at. I just received one from the garage that sold me my second-hand car seven years ago [as I have done every year since]. Although it doesn't take the gong for worst card design, it comes eye-wateringly close. There is no excuse for sending abysmal cards unless you're a graphic designer in a corduroy jacket who could say with a knowing smile, 'This card is an ironic statement'.

Seems to me that all such cards generate is indifference, or worse; enmity. If the person to whom a card is sent is not a personal friend- then the card must have some other obvious merit. It should be very funny or very arresting in some other way. You can't get good results from a picture lifted from a royalty-free image CD or one that has a company logo plastered garishly across the cover illustration. I venture to suggest that cards' inner messages should also be hand-written, perhaps with a wry humorous note [since there may be no personal relationship with the receiver].

And... since companies habitually decide to include Christmas in their marketing strategies; they shouldn't leave such important design choices to busy office managers or outsource the task of design to printers [printers and design are like builders and varnish; they don't mix]. There are plenty of great illustrators and graphic designers -who are born for such work and can advise on approach. There are also excellent cards made by some of the charities, like Oxfam or The Irish Cancer Society. So, there's plenty of choice -all well worth the expense and which could start generating a bit of warmth in these cold-hearted times.

Perhaps as image-makers, we're not doing enough to convince people in the general business community of the value of design?

I'd wecome your thoughts on the subject. Have you received any cards this year that provoked a wince? Clean your stomach contents from your shoes and tell me about it.

An Iggy from the IllustratorsIreland.com Awards 2006


The Illustrators Guild of Ireland had its annual awards last Friday in the United Arts Club in Dublin's City Centre. I was delighted to be awarded the 'Iggy' for this illustration in the 'Self-promotional' category. In fact, the idea was conceived in response to a call by the IGI for images for a promotional postcard campaign but it's still self-promotional really. There was some beautiful work on show from everybody but especially from PJ Lynch [Best Book Illustration] and David Rooney [Best Editorial and Best Overall Illustration].

'Pencil Boy' is a witty soubriquet bestowed upon me by photographer John Redmond [or 'Lens Creature'] one day and it made me laugh with its crazy American comic-book language dude-like hipness. I thought a Pencil Boy would be a good image to promote a bunch of illustrators.

Anyroad, while staying at my father-in-law's gaff in Provence during the summer, I obviously found that I needed to pass a lot of time away from the house. So it was that this was painted in the light-speckled shade of the garden. Sounds quite idyllic but the aging brittle plastic garden chair upon which I was sitting gradually collapsed, bit by bit. First the left arm, then the right, then the back and one of the legs until I was balancing on a three-legged stool. I also realised when I unpacked my kit that I had forgotten my cadmium red acrylic, so the piece is a mix of acrylic and cadmium red oil. Consequently it took ages and I wouldn't recommend it as an approach.

You can see all the competition entries on the IGI Awards 2006 judges' site