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Christmas Card Illustration

SAPC company christmas card
St Austell Printing Company - the story of our Christmas Card illustration.

Cornish Artist Illustrates Christmas in Paper

With paper at its heart, creating our company Christmas card is a labour of love.

With inspiration surrounding us, we’re never short of ideas. We’re greeted with beautifully designed, crafted print every day.

Our Print Shop team habitually pore over a particularly pretty piece of print or a creatively clever design they’ve spotted coming off the machines.  It’s a bit of a ritual. The printed item is subjected to a rigorous visual examination, extensive touching, and complimentary gestures before being passed on to another member of the team and popped into our samples box.

Channelling this enthusiasm for all things paper when it comes to designing our own print marketing, especially a piece as fundamental to our company as our own Christmas card, can be challenging. It takes time and commitment to get the right message and design without getting too carried away on specialist stocks and finishing effects.

Cornwall Collaboration

Starting with a semblance of a theme or approach is a starting point at least. These last two years we’ve chosen to collaborate with Cornwall based artists with a simple brief to create an illustration loosely based on the theme of paper and/or print.

We pull together print samples that catch our eye, that inspire us, that feel nice. We dig out previous Christmas cards we’ve sent and received, to see what works well. We bring out all our previous, recent and existing marketing campaigns, to remind ourselves what’s important to us.

And we lay it all out, let it wash over us, the colours, the paper, the designs…

Creative Kick Off

A session with local amateur artist Lorna Tremayne, designer Becky Dibb, and marketing manager Cat Wilkins kicks off with plenty of animated chatter around ways to weave the print process into a Christmas scene or communicate a Christmas made out of paper…

At this first design meeting, too many ideas, too many concepts, too many design features threaten to create a monster.

We spend time pulling it back, running through two or three concepts, focusing on some of the detail, discussing the orchestration, resolving how the idea will play out as a final design. We quickly and sensibly rule out two ideas as fortunately we realise elves printing Christmas (or maybe each other?) cannot be captured on a letterbox sized card.

One idea starts to shine through, evolving through discussion as Lorna gets a feel for what we are looking for:

What came out of these discussions and the element that I really loved is the way that print brings people together at Christmas. Print really is rooted at the heart of many of the family christmas traditions that we all love. So, my illustration is based around that idea which seems the perfect fit for family run SAPC.

Artist’s Impression

From an initial seed we start visualising the artwork, with Lorna roughly sketching an outline. As the idea grows and starts playing out on paper, we realise we have it. An illustration to tie together Christmas, paper and SAPC.

Talking to Cat and Becky it was clear they liked the idea of making the traditional christmas wreath the basis of this year’s design. We then discussed all the ways that print is used at Christmas, whether that be cards, wrapping paper, christmas crackers, advent calendars, paper hats and christmas carols; the list goes on and on when you start thinking about it!

So the challenge was how to weave that all together. 

Working closely with Lorna meant giving her a good understanding and insight into what we do, what we care about, and what SAPC means to our customers. We wanted Lorna to get close to us, to capture us in her illustration, to create a meaningful design.

Fortunately Lorna loved the idea for the illustration and we love the final artwork.

The traditional christmas wreath becomes the symbolic circle of Christmas where family characters emerge, interacting with the printed elements of christmas traditions in a bright and heart-warming illustration which I hope brings a smile to people’s faces when they open their cards this year.

Our three top tips for creating a company christmas card:

  1. Create a card that says something about your values and style
  2. Consider what sets you apart
  3. Find a creative hook around what your company does

Finally, don’t underestimate the power of print. Picking appropriate paper stock and getting your card printed professionally, thinking about how your design will look when it’s printed is undoubtedly as important as the artwork itself.

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