I’ve lost count of the number of years I’ve been designing my own Christmas cards. It all started donkeys’ years ago when I’d send cards out as a sort of bit of self-promotion to all the various record companies and managements. I don’t know if it did any good but I enjoyed doing them.
In the days before digital print it was never a cheap exercise to do a run of a few hundred cards. And then, of course there was the postage. Nowadays, printing costs are far lower than they used to be and the major expenditure is by far the postage. But along with making the Christmas cake and the pudding, it’s the first thing I do in preparation for Christmas.
These days the majority of my Christmas cards go to my friends and neighbours. Some of them even collect them and eagerly look forward to what I’ll be doing each year. Come the beginning of November and I’m scratching my head trying to think of an idea. An idea I’ve never done before. An idea other people have never done before. Not as easy as you might think! This year, I was panicking by mid-November for want of an idea. But, on a train journey up to London on a Friday morning, an idea came to me. I was back home on the Saturday, on the Sunday I designed the card, and the printer was printing it on the Monday morning. Phew!
So, here is this year’s card plus a selection of some of my favourites over the last twenty years or so.
This year’s card. I had spied from the train window some Worcestershire apple orchards with the trees heavy with mistletoe and that got me thinking about a card with mistletoe on it. Then the message that goes inside came to me . . . of course! HAPPY KISS-MAS!
2021’s card. Round about the time I did this, I had been designing an album cover for The Who and had incorporated these large gradated screen dots into the design. And I thought that in white on a Christmas card it would look just like falling snow. I photographed our front door and wreath and added in the falling snow flakes so that the card begins with pure white at the top and gradually the image appears through the falling snow.
This is a Christmas card from 2004. The front and the inside spread had lots of album covers with the artist’s name or album title relating somehow to Christmas. and so we have Marianne Faithfull (Oh come, all ye faithful), some Holly and Ivy, some turkey (with all the trimmings) then Elvis, B.B, and Nat King Cole (We three kings), The Corrs single ‘Angel’ and Gabrielle’s LP (the angel Gabriel) and then Madonna and, er, (Destiny’s) child. All of them dreadful puns, I know.
This one is from 2002. Titled The Bright Side of Yule. To be honest, it just designed itself really. I gave my friend Storm Thorgerson and his wife Barbie a large print of this for their wedding. One of my all-time favourites after all these years.
2010. Objets de Noel. Christmas things: A wishbone, a bauble, a mince pie, a scrap of burst balloon, a cracker riddle, a brussel sprout, a much-needed battery, a sixpence from the Christmas pud, two turtle doves, a Christmas stamp and so forth – you get the picture.
2019 and I dug out the box of Christmas tree decorations and photographed some of my favourites and placed them randomly across the front and back of the card. Some of these objects go back years – the trolley car top right from San Francisco in the mid 1990s, the tin toy zeppelin from childhood, the drum from a dear friend, the angel lady in the green dress on her swing. Just like they are when hanging on the tree, these images evoke a million memories.
2003’s Christmas card. I had a lot of fun doing this one. I thought I’d better run it past Peter Blake and ask him if he was OK with it and he loved it. I added in both the good guys and bad guys – Nelson Mandela in his Sgt Pepper uniform – but lurking in the crowd are Saddam Hussein and Adolph Hitler. The Pope replaced the waxwork of Sonny Liston and world leaders including Tony Blair and George W. Bush replaced the Fab Four waxworks. And there’s that angel again who has appeared in several of my cards! Mother Theresa and John and Yoko keep company with the Madonna and Child. And Peter Blake, with an angel’s halo is in the back row next to Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury. The message inside reads Merry Christmas and a happy new yeah yeah yeah. Of course it does!
Happy Christmas and Shine On. In 2000 I moved into a new studio next to Albert Bridge on the river Thames at Battersea. A short stroll through Battersea Park takes you to this lovely view of Battersea Power Station famous these days for that Pink Floyd cover. First of all, I photographed the power station and then went and bought some long balloons – the kind you twist and fashion into animals and things, plus a book on how to make those animals. After a few duff attempts I managed to create this jolly red reindeer. Matching the angle of the sunlight of the background shot, I photographed my little rubber Rudolph and stripped him in via Photoshop. Eat ya heart out, Jeff Koons, this is how it’s done.
My 2014 Christmas card. Titled Now bring us some figgy pudding. It took several attempts and a lot of brandy to get the final shot. A simple shot but just full of magic. The back has a small shot of me carrying in the flaming pudding.
This was my 2009 Christmas card, the year we moved to the book town of Hay-on-Wye on the border of England and Wales. And so, what else but a picture of books – books to do with Christmas in some way, shape or form include partridges, pear trees, twelfth night and, er, turkey.
So there you are, just a sample of some of them. Hope you enjoyed looking through them. I already have next year’s card lined up but you’ll have to wait to see what it is.
Have a very happy Christmas or whichever holiday it is you celebrate at this time of the year.
Peace on earth, goodwill to each and everyone of you and I wish you all good things for the coming year.
All images © Richard Evans.