Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is undoubtedly one of the most well known Christmas stories of all time. It has been made and remade into countless movies and TV series, and its format used even more. It’s a classic and it’s my pick for this month’s book club because I was feeling festive and decided to reread it.

You probably already know the story of A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge is a cold-miser who doesn’t believe in the spirit of Christmas until he is visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, so why read it?

First off, the book is almost always better than the movie, fact. There’s so much more depth in the novella than any of the movies. There’s a reason it’s timeless.

Second, it’s the perfect way to get into the Christmas spirit, the true Christmas spirit, within a couple of hours. A Christmas Carol is only about 100 pages long. Dickens really has a gift for painting a scene. He can go from darkness to light, outrage to compassion, gloom to humour without ever breaking the scene.

SOME QUESTIONS TO PONDER AS YOU READ

  • How do you think the structure of the ghost of past, present and future would have read the first time?
  • How does reading the book compare to any other versions of the story you know?
  • Does the story still hold up so many years later?
  • Did Scrooge’s tale make you think about Christmas any differently? Does Dickens’ didactic moral still apply?

 IF YOU WANT SOME FURTHER READING TRY…

  • Watch any or all of the versions of A Christmas Carol made for the screen including but not limited to: the 2009 version, Scrooge from 1951, a Muppet Christmas Carol, and the animated Christmas Carol: The Movie from 2001. There’s even a retelling this year called The Man Who Invented Christmas, which imagines how Dickens wrote the story
  • Or, watch the Grinch which is pretty much Dr Seuss’s version of a similar tale
  • Read this review from The Guardian – when do I not include a Guardian review?

 IF YOU WANT MORE BOOKS LIKE THIS HAVE A LOOK AT…

 

Christmas gifts are always best when they’re personal, which is where my new commission options come into play. If you’re looking for something special for someone you love, giving them a piece of art they can treasure, display, and use is really lovely.

In my store, you can now buy pattern, and illustration commissions as well as portraits so the options are really endless. My prices start at just £15, so you should be able to find something within your budget whatever it is. Plus, I have a few spaces left in time for the holidays too!

I’ve had a couple of questions, so I thought it was worth sharing my process for individual pieces*, even though it’s super-duper simple.

*If you have something bigger you’d like to work on please do get in touch and I can let you know what else will happen!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GET IN TOUCH

Step one is always you getting in touch with me. You can do that by buying a set commission like a portrait or a pattern through my shop, or sending me an email (or even tweet me) if you’ve got something a little different in mind or if you’d just rather reach out that way.

LET’S HAVE A CHAT

Then we’ll have a chat about what you want, I do this no matter how you’ve got in touch. This stage is really important to me because I want to make sure that you end up with something you’re really happy with. I’ll ask you what you’re planning on doing with the commission so we get all of the tech specs right, I’ll ask you about what kind of an outcome you’re after, and depending on the kind of piece I might end up asking you about the kinds of work you like and what your style is. This is where I’ll send you a contract if it’s a bespoke commission, and if it’s a large piece ask for a down payment.

SEND IN YOUR REFERENCE PHOTOS, IF NEEDED

If you’ve bought a portrait commission, I’ll ask you to send me some reference photos, because I unfortunately can’t sense through the computer what you or your friends look like. I’ll probably mainly work from one, but I prefer to have a couple to choose from so that I can properly get a sense of who I’m drawing.

I GO AWAY AND DO SOME DRAWING

This is the stage I enjoy the most if I’m honest. I can’t tell you exactly how long it will be here, as it depends on the kind of piece and how busy I am, but it’s something I’ll let you know in our initial discussion. As a general rule of thumb, most portraits or simple black and white (grey) illustrations will take about 3-5 working days.

I’LL PING YOU A PROOF

Once I’m done I’ll send you over a proof to check you’re happy with it. While 99% of people are because of that up front discussion, but if you’re not I’ll do the necessary tweaks, and then send you back another proof.

YOU GET YOUR ILLUSTRATION

Once everything is signed off I’ll send you your illustration.

If you’ve bought a set commission like a pattern I’ll mark the product as shipped, so only then will the PayPal payment be finalised. If you’ve set up something bespoke I’ll send you an invoice.

As I made a Christmas wallpaper last year, I’m hoping that this is going to become something of a tradition on the blog, because I love having a tradition, especially if it’s festive. Plus, it’s really nice to see how my work and style changes year on year. The difference between this year’s and last year’s is huge, and as much as I still appreciate the stuff I made this time last December, I’m personally really excited about how my work has evolved.

This year I wanted to go with a wreath based design. Wreaths have been a Christmas tradition since the 16th century, and I love the idea of being a part of that running history in a slightly more modern way. While the religious symbolism of a wreath perhaps isn’t as important for a lot of people now, the actual makeup of the wreath hasn’t changed all that much, although we don’t use the candles as much. They’re still made up mainly of evergreens, offering a sense of life in the cold months. Personally, I really like the way that wreaths are a public symbol of embracing the season. As soon as you start to see wreathes out on people’s doors you know that your neighbourhood is getting into the Christmas spirit.

That’s what I wanted to do with this wallpaper, because I’m planning on using it at work as an official notice that I am fully embracing the festivities. Hopefully, it can be your symbol too and we as an online community can hang our wreathes on our digital doors (backgrounds) and use it as a reminder to others and ourselves that we’re letting the Christmas spirit in.

Download the background for your desktop or for your mobile.

If you do end up using it please let me know/share a picture on one of my social pipes – it would honestly make my day!

It’s Christmas!

I’m so excited!

I feel like I’ve waited a whole year for it to be December again and I’m so ready.

This year I’m going to be doing Blogmas again. That’s right I’m going to be posting every day up until the 24th. I’m not quite sure why I’m doing this to myself again, especially as I am busier than ever, but I love Christmas and it seems like a good idea now.

Each day I’ll be opening a new door on this advent calendar to reveal a new piece a brand new post. So, feel free to come back and check to see what’s new and see the doors change colour because I’m going to pin this post to the side bar. I’ll also be sharing some extra bits on my Instagram stories, as well as more behind the scenes bits and pieces because I really want to get back into using Instagram for fun.

But unlike last year, I’m going to be varying my content a bit more. My usual posts (Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays) will still be my normal content, we’re talking design, work, and a few random thoughts. That still leaves Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays for festive content, which I have been working up in secret for months.

Even though I’m doing fewer days of festive content than last year, this blog is going to be jam-packed full of Christmas-y inspiration, illustrations, and perhaps even a recipe or two. I’m hoping there will even be a slight spiced cinnamon scent that just radiates from the page!

What’s behind the windows?

I know I’m super behind in doing this but I’ve finally updated my shop ready for the festive season, including some new card designs!

As I’m still starting out in this game I only wanted to design one set of cards this year, a Christmas card and an updated Thank You card just in case Santa stops by.

I kept the designs themselves line based, going back to the kind of work I love. But I still wanted a little bit of festive cheer. That’s where my new love/hate relationship with gold foil comes in. I love how shiny and magical these cards are. I didn’t quite love getting the artwork uploaded as much, but it’s all a learning process right?!

I basically just designed the cards I wanted to send out this year, and I’m so pleased with how they turned out. I can’t wait to send them out to my friends and family, and hopefully to you too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve also updated my commission options because I’ve had few requests for things that weren’t up there. So now you can get group and couples portraits as well as custom patterns.

Gifts are best when they’re personal, and nothing says personal like having your face all over something. So get your Christmas orders in soon, because I only have a limited number of spaces before I go home for the holidays.

Plus, if you needed any more of an incentive I’m offering free shipping on all orders over £25 with the code SANTASHELPER