Having grown up in Canada, Christmas in Australia is a truly unique experience. It’s summertime, with people wishing for clear skies and 40°C heat for Christmas day, perfect weather for the beach and a barbeque. There are baubles and Christmas lights strung in leafy green trees and Santa has traded his big white-trimmed red coat for a singlet and thongs (or, for you non-Australians, a sleeveless top and flip flops).
So imagine my surprise when searching for Christmas cards I could only find the usual selection of snow-capped hills, evergreen trees, reindeer, and snowmen. Not content with my findings, I decided to create my own set of cards featuring some of the native flora and fauna of Australia, in the hopes of conveying how extraordinary a Christmas Down Under can be.
Available on Etsy 105 x 148 mm Blank inside Each card comes with a coordinated envelope and is sealed in a plastic sleeve. Designed and printed in Australia on 100% recycled paper.
An Australian White Christmas (featuring Sulphur-crested Cockatoos)
Christmas Echidna (featuring an Echidna)
Jellyfish Lights (featuring Box Jellyfish)
Great Expectations (featuring a Quokka)
Blending in with the Baubles (featuring a Koala)
Dingo Sledding (featuring Dingoes)
Sand Angel (featuring a Little Penguin)
Spot the Quoll (featuring a Spotted-tail Quoll)
A Holly Jolly Christmas (featuring a Tawny Frogmouth)
A Carolling We Go (featuring Frill-necked Lizards)
WORLDS WITHIN A WORLD refers to when I began writing and illustrating while staying in Durham, North Carolina. My most vivid memory of the place is taking a walk in the suburb I was staying in. There weren’t any footpaths so I had to walk on the edge of the road in the shadows of the tall pine trees lining both sides. There was little traffic so it almost felt as though I was completely cut off from the rest of the world. There was only the changing colours of the sky framed between the tree tops to indicate the passing of time. It was in that space that I’d reminisce about moments in past places and imagine adventures in new lands.
CITY OF EXTREMES is how I describe Melbourne, Australia. For me, it's where I've sweated through the highest summer temperatures and had the cold winter air seep and settle into my bones. It's where I've met the most wonderful people, but also some of the ghastliest. It's where I've experienced the absolute best and worst moments of my life thus far. This illustration features the beautiful stained glass pattern of the late Leonard French, that spans the ceiling of the Great Hall of the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne.
THE FIRSTS happened in Halifax, Nova Scotia. It is the first city I moved to away from any family and friends, where I experienced my first hurricane and Atlantic snowstorm, and the first time I realised that I could stand on my own. It was a tumultuous but invigorating time. I don't think I ever felt alone in Halifax, thanks to the love from back home and great cheer from the incredible people I met there. Some Atlantic seabirds that are alluded to in this illustration include the puffin, osprey, little auk, eider duck, double-crested cormorant, black-headed gull, and American golden plover.
CITY OF LIGHTS refers to Paris, an exception in this list, as I haven't spent enough time in Paris to consider it a place that has made me. It does hold a special place in my heart though as Paris is where my husband spent two years working while I was studying in Melbourne. During that time, if I couldn't be in the same city/country/continent, I hoped that he would be surrounded by good people who'd look out for him. Paris turned out to be just that and so much more. The people he met were warm and funny, patiently helped him become semi-fluent in French (from speaking none!), and made Paris feel like a second home. They made Paris the City of Lights for us.
Worlds Within a World (Durham, North Carolina, USA)
City of Extremes (Melbourne, Victoria, AUS)
The Firsts (Halifax, Nova Scotia, CAN)
City of Lights (Paris, FRA)
From the picture books Christophe's Crumbs and Simone in Australia, here are Christophe and Simone featured in their own greeting card designs.
CHRISTOPHE'S AUSTRALIAN BURGER
This was a card design for Alexandra Maytraud and Mathieu Lafabrie, the wonderful people who translated Christophe's Crumbs into French.
The design commemorates the last time we caught up in Melbourne and they were introduced to the Australian burger.
Featuring Christophe from Christophe's Crumbs, here he is enjoying an Australian burger. Sandwiched between two burger buns are a beef patty, lettuce, beetroot, tomato, mushrooms, bacon, cheese, onions, pineapple, and an egg. Bon appétit!
CHRISTOPHE'S CHOC RIPPLE CAKE
This card design is for our friends in France to thank them for their wonderful hospitality. While staying with some friends, we introduced them to Choc Ripple Cake, an Australian version of tiramisu.
Here is Christophe from Christophe's Crumbs making and enjoying a Choc Ripple Cake: - a 250g package of choc ripple biscuits - 500mL thickened cream - 1 tsp caster sugar - 1 tsp vanilla essence - coffee - chocolate shavings or cocoa Beat the cream, sugar, and vanilla essence together until it forms stiff peaks. Spread a thick layer of cream onto a flat plate. Quickly dip both sides of a biscuit into the coffee, trying not to get it too soggy, and stand it upright in the cream. Alternate between biscuits and cream until you have a nice long log. Cover the log with the rest of the cream and sprinkle the chocolate shavings or cocoa on top. Refrigerate for at least 6 hrs. Cut the cake on a diagonal to get the stripped pattern in each slice. Bon appétit!
A DAY AT THE BEACH
Featuring Simone from the picture book, Simone in Australia, here she is enjoying a day at the beach and adhering to that iconic Australian sun protection campaign from Cancer Council Victoria: Slip on a shirt (or a dress in this case), Slop on some sunscreen, and Slap on a hat.
Christophe’s Australian Burger (featuring picture book character Christophe)
Christophe’s Choc Ripple Cake (featuring picture book character Christophe)
A Day at the Beach (featuring picture book character Simone)
How I Make a Picture Book (Infographic)
For anyone who's wondered how I create a picture book, here is a quick summary of my process:
It begins with a story idea. The story takes shape through numerous drafts of text and storyboard sketches. These are improved time after time with research into factual information, finding image references for my drawings, and input from friends. I am very fortunate to have an amazing group of editors to review each draft - Chrissy, Athena, and Rob. They challenge my story-lines and debate my word choices, all the while helping me keep my voice and style but making it better with each rewrite. For example, Simone in France had 8 drafts.
Once I am happy with the story, I begin the final illustrations. This is where the story starts to become a book. Storyboard sketches are redrawn at a larger size and with greater detail. These drawings are inked, scanned, cleaned up, and vectorised using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. Turning the ink drawings into digital files makes it easier for me to cut and paste in small amendments. I find it easier to draw by hand versus drawing by computer and have redrawn full illustrations two or three times to correct bigger mistakes.
When I'm satisfied with the digital image, I print the illustration out on watercolour paper. Using image references, I pick and choose colours for each element of the illustration. I mix and blend different watercolour pencils (from a set of 72) on scrap paper until I reach a desired effect and record each colour combination. I can now apply colour to the final illustration. If any colour mishaps occur, I will either reprint the illustration to start again, or reprint sections of the illustration to recolour and paste in using Photoshop. Simone in France has 28 illustrations but I probably completed closer to 40.
When all 28 illustrations are complete, they are scanned, cleaned up, and sized in Photoshop. I then import the illustrations into InDesign and format them with the text. Sometimes the text doesn't fit quite right in the illustration and I have to go back and do a redraw of part, or all, of an illustration. When the formatting is done, I share the file with my editors for a final proofread. With their approval, I assign a new ISBN and add a barcode to the cover. For the French versions, I mail a hard copy of the book to Mathieu, my French translator, who then sends me a brilliant translation in keeping with the spirit of the story.
The final file is sent to a local print company to print and bind hard copies of the book. I receive a mock-up of the book to okay before printing the final product. This usually takes 2 weeks. Once I have the books in hand, I visit local bookstores to see if they will stock copies on their shelves.
FRIEND OR FOE - Facing our fears or discovering our fears are unfounded?
MAKE A WISH features some Australian flora: broad leaved lilly pilly, billy button flowers, dandelion fluff, dawson river weeper, golden wattle, grasstree, grevillea orange marmalade flowers, midgen berry, moonlight delight waxflowers, notched bush pea, red flowering gum, and winters light lilly pilly