what the dickens

Posted by on Nov 28, 2014 in collage, Illustration, Portland Stage Company | 3 comments

Once again, Portland Stage Company debuts another season of A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens’ holiday classic written over 170 years ago. I was thrilled to create the marketing visual, back in July 2014 when Christmas felt a century away. This is a return of post I made in November of that year. They are using the illustration again; some things bear repeating, right?

At the time, a new look was at hand, allowing a half-circular space for illustration. I couldn’t get the idea of ornaments out of my head, and these preliminary sketches all played a part in the final image.

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In referencing all things Victorian, Playing with Pictures: The Art of Victorian Photocollage by Elizabeth Siegel was a great source of inspiration for this unlikely pitch, a Father Christmas in Marley’s chains.

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Surprisingly, I got the green light for this direction, which led me down a big rabbit hole on Pinterest. This is young Dickens, who became an instant success with the popularity of this story in 1843.

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Here’s my Young Scrooge Blinded by Greed ornament.

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Um. Didn’t fly, though. I went back to a the drawing board and showed this look next.

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Each ornament represents the Past, Present, and Future. I did them separately.

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Rabbit fur muff or roll of toilet paper? Your call.

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For the background, I drew London rooftops and shafts of smoke unfurling from brick chimneys.

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Maybe too many chimneys, yet it needed something more.

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I layered the ornaments in photoshop.

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In the end, wunderkind designer Karen Lybrand decided the backdrop was the thing. Less is more!

It’s always interesting to see the variety of reproductions and layouts.

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With new snow on the ground, A Christmas Carol should put me right in the holiday mood. How about you?

3 Comments

  1. This is a real WOW of a poster. Less is more, indeed less is everything. No characters, no plum puddings, just this essence.
    Brava, Jamie!

  2. Thanks for sharing your process. It is a peak into the final forms of your amazing illustrations. So many ideas and so little time. Also helps us realize that it depends a great deal on who is the guard at the gate of what bits get chosen to be a part of the final work. Where do you take that next journey into the final product. Illuminating and your timing is impeccable. You did this in JULY? All I can say is WOW.

  3. Wow! I was following you along, and loved the chimneys with snowflakes. As you were moving to the next incarnation I thiught, oh, no, I think it’s just right….and I’m glad Portland Stafe does, too! It is wonderful!

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