After six years of visual development, we’re proud to share our latest creative endeavor with you. Coffee Lovers’ Christmas is a greeting card and gift/keepsake product line that is the perfect blend of warmth, charm, and magic.
It all started September 3, 2012. On that day, Julie and I planned to enjoy an afternoon of tennis. We stopped for coffee first and I couldn't help but remark on how cool the design on the barista's shirt was. By the time we left the shop, Julie was already brainstorming coffee design ideas to pitch to the bakery as shirt designs. By the time we finished our walk to the tennis courts, the ideas had shifted to a series of Christmas card concepts. Kneeling on the tennis court, we hovered over my handy sketchbook and filled three pages before we finally picked up our rackets.
One of the first things we decided was that, visually, we didn't want Coffee Lovers' Christmas to look like the rest of my portfolio. We talked a lot about we wanted and didn’t want the cards to look like and our research pointed us in the direction of a style we might call "Victorian Hipster."
At the time, I was drawing the daily comic strip My Guardian Grandpa and my drawings were all thoroughly constructed with attention to form, flow, and anatomy. In the first year of trying to capture the charm of Julie's sketchbook drawings, my translations always tightened up and lacked energy.
A few weeks after painting the first Coffee Lovers' Christmas illustration, Julie came up with the idea for Buddy and Romeo in August 2014 and I used drawing those characters as an opportunity to experiment with challenging the rules of perspective, simplifying, and even dispensing with anatomy altogether. Unlike My Guardian Grandpa, whose visual world mirrored the emotional and narrative complexity of the series, Buddy and Romeo's world was sparse,innocent/naive, and playful. Characters were designed using simple shapes, letters, or sometimes even numbers and the rules of perspective were challenged.
I used the animated Character References trailer as a training ground for painting. The character designs were influenced by Art Deco and 1920s cartoons. Ordinarily when approaching watercolor, he obsessed over lighting and form. Here, the challenge was to harness spontaneity and create texture through watercolor techniques and effects like colloidal dispersion and back run. The drawing and painting techniques and lessons learned from the Character References trailer highly informed the way the Coffee Lovers' Christmas illustrations were rendered.
It’s amazing to me to think about how many other projects have taken shape in the six years since Julie and I began working on Coffee Lovers’ Christmas. Miss Wallace Rhymes With William was published and I wrote six more plays after that; three My Guardian Grandpa books were published; Julie and I co-created Buddy and Romeo and they appeared in a daily comic strip and a couple animated shorts; we got into the single panel cartoon marker by submitting New Yorker-style cartoons to magazines. All of this in so many ways prepared me to paint Coffee Lovers’ Christmas in a manner, which hopefully matches and honors Julie's ideas and sketches.
We’re proud to share Coffee Lovers’ Christmas with you this holiday season as you fall in love with your soul mate or with a cup of coffee.
See you in the funny papers.