The birthday card
A few years back, I started my own tradition of giving hand drawn birthday cards to friends instead of gifts. I liken it to finding a hand written letter in the post among the junk mail, which almost never happens anymore. Very often, I give away the original, with all of it's perfect imperfections, keeping a copy in my archives. My friends seem to be appreciative of this one-of-a-kind item. I know first hand that a few have been framed, which is the ultimate complement.
Yesterday, I drew a card for my girlfriend Kellie, trying very hard to embody the tall and fierce beauty that she is. Because I developed this look from online sources, I decided to include this post in Style Notes, to share both the process and the inspiration.
I could not give her the original, because I wanted to drop in a more interesting background and had to use Photoshop for that. The first image that I placed on a background layer was a palm tree that I quickly sketched in marker. Then, I chose a very small corner of an outdoor photograph, and shifted the color into hot chartreuse, making the landscape feel more martian. The girl was on a separate layer, and I played with the levels to get the highest contrast black and white. I had a strange purple color in there, so I desaturated it too. I kept the girl graphic and hard edged with no soft airbrushing effects.
It's liberating and fruitful to try new things when you are not getting paid . I think that is why I initially started doing the cards, because they are just for fun and I can play at will. I highly recommend the self directed project to my fellow commercial artists. It can help alleviate creative road blocks.