Digital experiences have immeasurably improved almost every facet of human existence – except Christmas greetings. Call us old fashioned and sentimental, but when it comes to Christmas cards, we have an enduring love for the joy of handwritten envelopes, inky kisses you can trace and heartfelt beauty that can stand on the mantlepiece.
So for Christmas 2017, we stayed true to our way of working and reached out to a global network of illustrators to bring some of our favourite Christmas songs to life. Working collaboratively across timezones and language barriers, we took six songs and created six pieces of illustrative happiness, to share with our friends…
Originally titled ‘Carol of the Drum’ and written as a choral piece, The Little Drummer Boy was based on a Czech carol, which in turn was based on a French legend: Le Jongleur de Notre Dame (Our Lady’s Juggler). In the legend, a juggler performs for a statue of Mary, who rewards him with a smile and/or a rose, depending on the version of the legend you believe…
Brought to you in collaboration with illustrator Victor Medina
Victor graduated in Graphic Design at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. His work, which tends to include bright colours and hand drawn lettering, is influenced by his ‘obsession’ with the Victorian and Art Deco eras, as well as illustration and design from the 1950s.
This Christmas song is heartbreakingly melancholy – all the more so when you realise that Hynde wrote it for The Pretenders’ former guitarist James Honeyman-Scott, who died of a drug overdose the year before 2000 Miles was released: He’s gone two thousand miles, it’s very far. The snow is falling down, gets colder day by day – I miss you… I hear people singing. It must be Christmas time.
Brought to you in collaboration with illustrator Lisa Maltby
Lisa is a firm believer in the power of illustration to communicate important information more effective. Based in Sheffield, she graduated from Loughborough University with a degree in Visual Communications and her award-winning commercial work can be seen all over the world.
This festive classic was the fastest selling single in UK chart history – and received as a total flop… “Millions of Dead Stars write and perform rotten record for the right reasons” (NME) “It’s far from brilliant… but you can have fun playing Spot the Star on the vocals” (Sounds) “Something of an anti-climax, even though Geldof’s sense of universal melodrama is perfectly suited to this” (Melody Maker).
Brought to you in collaboration with illustrator Heather Landis
Heather Landis resides in Los Angeles and freelances as an illustrator and retoucher. Her work combines found photographs with hand drawn illustration, vintage advertisements and found textures, to evoke childlike wonder with a hint of the ominous. Her images are often whimsical, nostalgic, and abstract.
Somewhat ironically for a song protesting the commercialisation of Christmas, I Believe in Father Christmas sold 13,000 copies in two days and was only kept off the Christmas No. 1 spot by Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. “I got beaten by one of the greatest records ever made,” said Lake. “I would’ve been pissed off if I’d been beaten by Cliff [Richard].”
Brought to you in collaboration with illustrator Patrick Cabral
The work of Philippines-based art director, Patrick Cabral, combines type, visual arts, and papercuts. After discovering calligraphy at a young age, Cabral was drawn to a career in the digital world as a web programmer and animator. Now, he’s combining the structure inherent in digital design with the type of flourishes you’d find in calligraphy, in order to create exciting multi-disciplinary designs.
The Ronettes covered this festive number for their 1963 album, A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector, producing the track using their bombastic “Wall of Sound” technique. Unfortunately, its release on 22nd November, the day of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, meant record sales were somewhat hampered. Original editions are now collectable and sell for hundreds of pounds.
Brought to you in collaboration with illustrator Mikhail Polivanov
Ukrainian illustrator Mikhail Polinov believes in beautiful, literate design created with love. His work comprises simple design and type that purely and simply speaks for itself.
The Pogues (an anglicisation of the Irish “póg mo thóin”, meaning “kiss my arse”) weren’t deterred when they discovered that the NYPD didn’t actually have a choir. They hired the force’s pipe band to feature in the video for this song instead – who didn’t know the words to Galway Bay, so they mouthed the only lyrics they all knew… the Mickey Mouse Club chant.
Brought to you in collaboration with illustrator Sunny Gu
Born and raised in China, Sunny Gu moved to the US aged 13 and is now established as an LA-based fashion & beauty illustrator. Sunny paints in watercolour and her illustrations are full of vibrant colours, rich details and delightful feelings. Sunny’s work is an endless journey searching for beauty, value, truth and self.