A few months ago, I started ruminating about what I might do for a Christmas card illustration this year. Just as I do when brainstorming any creative project, I kept my eyes open wherever I went. You never know when you might come across something that might inspire some ideas, things that might cause you to ponder "What if...?".
Hanging in my living room for several years is a piece of shadowbox artwork that I treasure. I bought it from the Disneyana store on Main Street USA at Disneyland. It's by Dave Avanzino and for years his work has been featured at the park, cleverly crafting these framed words and messages from iconic elements inspired by things Disney and Disneyland.
While admiring one of Avanzino's latest pieces on a recent visit to the Disneyana store, the notion came to me to adopt his brilliant idea for my holiday art. Soon after, I started building my word collage. It was going very well. And this was back in October. So on top of the phrase art looking good, I also got excited that I might actually get this year's art done WAY early!
I wanted to highlight several noteworthy events from the past year in my design.
Taking Avanzino's cue, I spelled out my holiday message with letters lifted from visual elements related to those events.
While I was pretty happy with this part, I wasn't with the background. I was also hoping to do something even more creative than just delivering a plainly printed card. So I ended up taking a break on it, hoping that coming back to it in a few days would give me fresh eyes on my project. Those "few days" ended up lasting for over a month as I had a trip to Florida coming up, Thanksgiving weekend, freelance work and other distractions.
But when I finally came back to it in mid-December, it took me just a few hours to not only design a background but also design the rest of the actual Christmas card, which became another pop-up design. At the end of this blog is the final result.
But leading up to that, I've provided explanations for what each of the characterized letters represents from moments of my past year with some extra photos and links if you want to learn more.
M from "Musical"
On May 19, my team, "Naboombu All-Stars", won First Place in MousePlanet's latest scavenger hunt game, MouseAdventure Musical, which took place at the Disneyland Resort. It was also our second time earning the top spot. You can read all about this event in MousePlanet.com's Recap. And my history playing MouseAdventure is summarized in this blog.
A backwards "3" from the Club 33 logo
On June 23, through the generosity of a friend, we later celebrated our win with a celebratory lunch at Disneyland's VIP restaurant Club 33. My pictures from Club 33 are posted on Flickr.
R from "Treasures"
On February 9, my Naboombu All-Star friends and I traveled to Ojai to tour the Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives exhibit on display at the Ronald Reagan Library. I enjoyed both the Disney exhibit and the Reagan tour. My pictures from the visit are also posted on Flickr.
R from "Ordinary"
Running September 6 through September 29 was a heart-warming production of the musical "Ordinary Days". My friends produced, staged, directed and performed in it to rave reviews, among them from The Hollywood Reporter, NoHoArtsDistrict.com and The Tolucan Times. I was surprised and honored to be asked to design their set. Below are two concept drawings I produced followed by a shot of how the final set turned out.
Y from "Willy"
Running August 3 through August 17 was Torrance Theatre Company's summer musical production of Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka. And in it, I had the good fortune and fun to play reporter Phineous Trout. Below are shots from the production. And if you hadn't read it before, don't miss my blog about the pop-up Golden Ticket cards I designed and produced for the cast and crew.
C from "Capsule" in the logo I designed
On February 23, before earning our February MouseAdventure win, the Naboombu All-Stars created our first of three installments of our home-grown scavenger game for the year. Questacular - Time Capsule: 1973 is the quest we hosted for our friends, giving them another chance to get together and hate us and/or love us some more as they scavenged for clues and answers all afternoon and evening throughout Disneyland.
The other two quests we hosted were Summer Questacular: The Quest for the Truth played at Disney California Adventure and Questmas Cards back at Disneyland.
H from "Hollywood"
On March 26, I accomplished what most everyone who comes to Los Angeles wants to do someday. After 18 years living in LA, I finally hiked up to the Hollywood sign! I wrote about my adventure in a blog.
r from "Travelling" in the logo I designed
On the weekend of April 27-28, my Relay for Life team, Travelling Turtles/Friends of the Arts, participated in our fifth consecutive weekend walk to raise donations for and awareness of the American Cancer Society. And our team sported tee-shirts generously donated by Embroid Me with the artwork I produced. We'll be involved once again together in 2014, our sixth year together as a team.
I from "Iron"
On May 2, I joined my geek buddies and former toy company co-workers for one of several trips to the theatres this year. On this day, it was to watch "Iron Man 3" in IMAX 3D at Rave Motion Pictures.
S from the new Superman logo
On June 14, my geek buddies watched "Man of Steel" together in IMAX 3D at the decent screening time of 8pm on opening night again at Rave Motion Pictures.
T from "Thor"
On November 12, we headed to ArcLight Cinemas to watch "Thor: The Dark World" in 3D. (If you didn't already know, we love comic book super-heroes.)
M from "Men"
Running March 1 through March 30 was Torrance Theatre Company's production of "12 Angry Men" where I played Juror 6. Below is banner art I designed to promote our show, using a photo by Brad LaVerne.
A from "Castle"
I just love this show!
s from "Disney"
I hadn't been back to visit Walt Disney World in fifteen years. But MousePlanet also hosts MouseAdventures over there. And after playing together at Disneyland for a couple of years, my Naboombu All-Stars friends made sure we played in at least one of them over there! So off to Florida we went from November 13 to November 18, to play World Explorers V over that weekend. No other crazy way to visit all four parks for essentially the first time than while playing a timed scavenger hunt!! On this very first try playing there, we proudly placed 7th out of 39 teams. Here's the recap to read all about the quests we played and how we had to get our answers. And with a hundred less teams playing there than MouseAdventure at Disneyland, we also managed to get featured in a couple of candid shots in the recap.
At the end of Game Day #1, each team was given a blank Vinylmation Mickey and asked to decorate it and bring it with us at check in the next morning. That's when we learned that in the middle of Game Day #2, our goal was to travel throughout the entire Walt Disney World Resort and take pictures of ourselves with it at as many locations specified on a provided list as we could reach within four hours. Traveling by monorail, tram, boat and in the last half hour, even running, we reached 19 spots out of 28. Here's a photo collage I layed out of all the locations we reached.
Of course, these weren't the only best and memorable moments from my year. There were others. These were just the ones that just found their way into this design. For each and every moment of fun, challenge and good fortune that has come my way, I am truly grateful.
And Happy New Year!
I hope you all enjoyed just as memorable and wonderful a year with your family and friends too!
Added December 27, 2013:
Here's how the pop-up snail mail version turned out.
They started with this.
I whipped up the above artwork for my friends building the set of Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka, last month's musical staged by the Torrance Theatre Company and one I was also cast in, playing the part of reporter-to-the-Golden-Ticket-winners Phineous Trout. The artwork would be applied to large 5' x 3' boards installed at the top of the proscenium of the Armstrong Theatre and illuminated with animated magical effects during every show.
Now whenever I'm in a show, I like to try to do something creative and special for the cast, to hand out on opening night or closing night. For this show, I had to consider something I could produce for about forty cast members and about half as many more crew members, something that wouldn't get in the way of me missing (too much) sleep to get them sixty-odd pieces done and looking pretty.
In my last show, 12 Angry Men, I made a card with a wheel that can be turned to reveal jokey verdicts through a cut-out window and a simple pop-up card that I handed out to the cast and crew on opening and closing nights. They turned out well enough and everyone got a kick out of them. I also had fun making them, and they turned out to be fairly simple to do yet were impressive to receive. (Pats myself on the back.)
So immediately the idea of again doing something involving paper engineering came to mind. I browsed through some books on paper engineering I own for inspiration and also to see what would be simplest to produce for a cast of thousands! Ok, sixty people. But I didn't want this to feel like I was making enough for thousands.
After I finished the Golden Ticket art, I occurred to me that not only was that the perfect graphic element to share with everyone, but also that half my graphic design time was theoretically done if I was able to use it in whatever I came up with! (On top of taking the time to brainstorm, design and make these whatevers, I still had rehearsals to go to too! So time management was a bit important to me.) I decided I wanted to do something a little more exciting than the simple pop-up I did for 12 Angry Men. And quickly the idea of opening a card to reveal a real Golden Ticket popping up at them became my focus and my goal.
My biggest challenge being a novice paper engineer was how to make it pop up! But a little trial and error building white model mockups aided me in figuring that out fairly quickly. Next up was designing the graphics for what would appear on the rest of the card, what would appear behind the Golden Ticket that popped up and what would the cover say to set up what they'd find inside. I was again able to save some time by re-using the gears from my Golden Ticket art to use in the background spread of the inside. And since this was coming from the reporter in the show who introduces himself to the audience by saying "This is Phineous Trout!", the concept for the cover arrived quickly too.
As the art was getting done, I printed them out to mockup some more white models to see how it was looking and also to make sure the placement of the Golden Ticket didn't block my text and message in the card. Once I signed off on my own graphic design, it was off to the local craft stores to find just the right kind of gold paper to print the Golden Tickets on, because Golden Tickets need to be gold (duh) and sparkly! (And because I could then print them as black and white art, it would save me a hell of a lot of money on toner too!)
Thank God for Scrampers, a scrapbooking supply store that was the only place I found with just the right paper I was hoping to find! I also bought a box of Avery 5 1/2" x 4 1/4" Note Cards for the base cards; pre-scored and perforated-to-size was another time-saver I banked on. And since I already had white card stock at home for the pieces going under the tickets to lift them up - card stock being sturdier than thin copy paper - I just needed toner - lots of toner - and I was ready to print, cut and score.
Below are images of my final artwork and shots I took during construction. I didn't have time to produce anything for opening night, so I was glad I got these done to hand out on before the show on closing night. I was very happy with the way they turned out. Thankfully, so were my very talented castmates and the backstage crew who worked hard throughout the production.
Check out my portfolio to see other paper engineering projects I've done for fun!
All About Me
A fan of Star Trek, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Batman, comic books, Blu-rays, Disney, soundtracks, taking pictures, theatre and...Barry Manilow!