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We reveal the design and print secrets behind this years bespoke Christmas card…

We thought it’d be a great idea to show you some of the process behind our 2016 Christmas campaign.  In our interview with studio manager Jon Orpwood, he reveals the the creative thinking and the printing techniques used in the creation of this years bespoke Christmas card.

Jon, what inspired this year’s bespoke Christmas card design?…

Well, Rosie… the last few years we have been creating interesting and unusual Christmas card designs using a wide range of printing techniques with the idea to inspire our customers to think creatively about their own printing projects. Two years ago we designed a Christmas card on ‘Mirri’ art board (a metallic silver coated board), experimenting with the use of solid white and CMYK ink.

With this in mind, we decided to use the same materials. However, instead of a traditional folded Christmas card, we thought we’d try and design something a little more interactive and engaging. Something that our customers might find fun and memorable, and something we could use to generate a social buzz on our twitter account (@getproactive)

Christmas card printing - Cut-out Snowman

Our initial thoughts were based around a cut-out, self-assembly Christmas tree or festive decoration, but instead we decided to create a friendly push-out character with interchangeable accessories, faces, shoes, something our customers would spend a few moments building and then share with us on their social media channels – A Snowman seemed like the best option as we could utilise the white spot colour in the design so ‘Shiver’, the Snow’person’ was conceived.

Tell me about the design process…

We quickly mapped out a design for the snowman to understand how any accessories we created, would fit onto the snowman’s body. During this process we were constantly thinking about the cutter design, where we needed to include fold marks, cut marks and how items would fit together.

With the design being based on Mirri board and our snowman being predominantly white the artwork needed to be designed with CMYK plus a spot white plate. As we designed each of the elements we were considering whether we wanted the colour to be metallic or solid.

For colours to appear as metallic it’s necessary to remove that area of the design from the white spot plate. See an example of this below – the pink areas will be printed in white. Everything that is not pink, will show the silver board and thus all colour that is printed directly onto the silver board will appear as a metallic colour.

Once all the accessories had been chosen and positioned on the sheet,  we created a cutter guide and made our first mock-up (it’s important at this stage to check it all fits together correctly). 

With the mock-up complete and a few minor details adjusted we produced the print ready PDF. This was created as four pages. 1) Full design including cutter. 2) Cutter guide. 3) White plate. 4) CMYK/ full colour plate.)

bespoke christmas card - all plates layered together

All Plates

bespoke christmas card - cutter guide

Cutter Guide

bespoke christmas card - white spot printing plate

White Plate

bespoke christmas card - colour printing plate

Colour Plate 

How do you get such a precise cut?

Making the die-cutter for the Christmas card is a time consuming and specialist trade. A task once completed by hand and only limited by the skill of the operator, it is now firmly in the realms of the digital world using highly mechanised laser cutting machines to generate extremely accurate shapes and forms.

The ‘die’ is assembled on a wood platter by laser cutting thin channels into the surface of the wooden plate. Once the design has been burned into the wooden board, metal strips are carefully manipulated into the shapes in the pattern and then hand driven into the wooden block. It’s a fascinating process to watch, we’ve found a great video on line showing the level of detail that can now be achieved using the modern die-cutter manufacturing machines. You can see the actual cutter produced for our Christmas card – check out the precision of the final die.

Bespoke Christmas card - die-cutter

So how will we deliver this to the customer?

Every year we design and send a 14 month wall planner to all of our customers. Always encouraging them to take a photo of their staff standing next to the planner with the hope of winning a Christmas prize. This year we’ve encouraged our customers to build and style our snowman, name him or her and tweet a picture to our twitter account @GetProactive. Just a bit of fun to get people in the festive mood with the opportunity to win a christmas hamper.

The festive design doesn’t stop here, the whole package was presented in a Proactive blue envelope with festive label, personalised letter, wall planner and pack of handy stickers, ideal for organising staff holidays and not forgetting our flat pack festive friend.

Bespoke Christmas card mailing

Most importantly what are Proactive calling their own Snowman?

Well after some serious deliberation, a vote and a spreadsheet (we’re not joking!) to work out who’s name was the winner – Martha’s snowman name was chosen – Shiver!

Need some help with your Christmas card design?

Designing your own bespoke Christmas card can be a technical challenge, so make sure you get the right team on board to help you work out the nitty gritty.

We can help you work out the best solution. Call us on 01202 315 333 and speak to one of the team.

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