My idea for a series of alternative animal papercut portrait Christmas cards was developed months ago. I knew I wanted to include farm and antlered animals, but I needed some original photographs to work from. So, during a wet and windy summer travelling around the West coast of Ireland with my camera always handy, I collected a wonderful assortment of cow, donkey and pony shots (I now know where every donkey lives around Belmullet). Dublin’s amazing (and rather creepy) Natural History Museum which is crammed with stuffed animals provided another excellent resource. All those photos from trips to farms with my kids came in very handy and while searching through photos of friendly llamas taken in Machu Picchu, I also found the perfect mountainous backdrop to set the wintery scenes. They aren’t the best photos, having reflections or fences between me and the animals or bodies missing, but with a bit of skilful photo editing, I was able to transform them into a coherent set of initial designs.
Once I had worked on my digital designs and titled each card (in my own unique Imagine Attic typeface), I got some feedback from my friends and family. I’m terrible at making decisions, so I need to do a big thank-you here to everyone who supported me and encouraged me. Some of the designs needed changing, festive bells were added and although I liked the wolf, he didn’t really fit in with the others so had to go.
After the redesigns, I spent about 5 days in my studio hand crafting each of the 8 individual animal papercut portraits – this is the part of my work that I love the most, seeing it come to life in layers of intricately hand cut paper.
I then had to work out what was the best way to get the artwork photographed and edited ready for print using CMYK colours. This was tricky as what you see on the computer isn’t the same as what comes back from the printers. I spent a lot of time experimenting with different lighting to make sure subtle details, colours and textures were not lost.
After a sample of cards were printed, I asked my 9 year old son for his opinion on which type of card stock I should use and got the best feedback ever “More people in the world will benefit from using recycled card than those who will benefit from using not recycled card.” Such a smart boy. I chose 100% recycled using eco-friendly toner (naturally) and they don’t they look great?