Our Wishes Go Up To Eleven

    Uncategorized | Yves Peters | January 4, 2011

    It’s been half a year since I wrote my first personal post on The FontFeed. (In case you’re interested – to my great surprise I effortlessly made the first selection. Unfortunately the actual televised audition didn’t go that well due to excessive nervousness, so there was no Boot Camp ticket in it for me.) Back then I had no idea if I’d ever write one of those again. Yet Mike Dohrn’s wonderful comment struck a chord:

    It’s great to have good content on a blog, but adding the layer of personality that this kind of article brings makes this a can’t-miss RSS feed. Content is meat & potatoes, this is gravy – great when you can get it, but please don’t make a meal out of it.

    Front and back of our 2005 family New Year’s card. Replacing the number 5 with a hand with outstretched fingers made me think of how our new year’s wishes always try to predict good tidings for the coming year. The connection with palm reading was quickly made. The photograph on the front was a happy accident that one of my clients let me use.
    Typefaces: Armchair Modern, Luminance, Sophisto Icons

    This time I’d like to share with you my obsession with making the coolest New Year’s card in the world (seriously), and how every year I stubbornly have another go at it. I don’t really know where it all began, but for as long as I can remember I always wanted to design surprising and/or intriguing New Year’s cards. This may have originated in my general dislike for dull mediocrity and the mundane. I’ve simply seen too many inane illustrations of rosy-cheeked Santa Clauses and elves, too many pedestrian stock photographs of Christmas trees and sparkling decorations, too many family photos of children with Santa hats and families in matching sweaters.

    Family New Year's card 2002
    Front of our 2002 family New Year’s card.
    Typefaces: Profil (Decorated 035), Bitstream Clarendon, Alternate Gothic

    When I started working for Making Magazines (now Magelaan) halfway the nineties, the first New Year’s card I designed for the company featured a display of dead fish. Other designs included an X-ray of one of the other designers’ full set of teeth, and after a close-up of a millipede was vetoed out by the company that bought Making Magazines for being “too icky”, I appropriated my design for our own family card. This may all sound like cheap shock value, yet there was a concept behind every single one of them – a play with words, a juxtaposition, a metaphor, an allusion to pop culture, whatever connection I could make with a specific year or event. For example in 2002, the year the Euro effectively replaced all European national currencies, our family wished everyone a happy 49.63 – 2002 Belgian francs converted into the new European currency. The retro design of the card loosely referenced the late fifties, as the European Economic Community was created at the 1957 Rome Treaty. Truth to be told few people got it, yet whenever I can I try to incorporate less or more obscure references in my work, even if only one single person understands them and appreciates the thought that went into the design.

    Rearranged fragments of our 2006 family New Year’s card A Tiny Treasury of Typographic Terms. Here five English typographic terms are visualised in a humorous way by our family.
    Typefaces: Zanzibar, Katarine, Relato, Warnock, H&FJ Didot

    The first card that made me realise I may be onto something was 2006’s A Tiny Treasury of Typographic Terms. It was the humorous visualisation of five Dutch and five English typographic terms by myself, my wife Sabine, and our three children Eliza, Randall, and Nona. Although the production values were rather modest – the photographs were merely family snapshots, and the card (actually a small poster) was printed on A3 sheets and folded by hand – the reactions were overwhelming. Our New Year’s card even made it onto Microsoft typography.

    Front of our 2007 family New Year’s card.
    Typefaces: Antique Olive, Univers Ultra Condensed

    From then on I felt like I had a reputation to uphold, which only added to the pressure to come up with something good every year. 2007 was a no-brainer – we created our own tacky version of a James Bond movie poster, complete with elaborate credits and a reference to another movie from my youth.

    Front of our 2008 family New Year’s card.
    Typeface (on the back): Filosofia

    2008 found us in a romantic mood, with a sleepy family forming the number 8 (or the symbol for infinity if you tilt it sideways). The year after that was an odd-one-out, as we decided to promote my wife Sabine’s new artistic venture, making three-dimensional creations in modelling clay. And last year’s was again a cryptic one.

    Which brings us to this year’s rock’n’roll extravaganza. Mulling over the number 11 in my head this fall, I suddenly remembered this classic scene from the cult mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap. The hilarious movie is mandatory viewing for any musician. I have played in bands since I was 16 years old, and still play drums in Troubleman, and now Rosa Luxe* as well. Furthermore my wife Sabine and I met in the Wind Orchestra De Pinte we both were members of, so this seemed like a more than appropriate concept for our family New Year’s card/poster. We rented the great little concert room Rosa Luxe* rehearses in, borrowed some very cool guitars – a Gibson Flying V and a Gibson Explorer – from a friend, and asked our sister-in-law to do a photo shoot. The result is our little family posing as a trashy rock band, complete with a heavy metal meets Bollywood logo I designed with Donald Beekman’s FF Imperial, and “Our Wishes Go To ’11” spelled out in Tomáš Brousil’s Orgovan Punk.

    The amount of preparation that went into it, and the unique convergence of year, concept, pop culture reference, and personal connection make me believe we may never be able top this year’s design. But this doesn’t bother me that much. Trying to create the most mind-blowing New Year’s card ever may often have left me frustrated in the past, but it also amounted to this year’s poster, which has received rave reactions from all over the world. Striving for the very best gives me hope our future cards will at least be decent and out of the ordinary.

    What’s more important is the message I am trying to send out as a writer, a designer, and a human being. For one I hope it shows I don’t take myself too seriously, yet I am very serious about what I do. As I don’t have a real portfolio it too is a sample of the kind of project I can tackle conceptually. And most of all it proves that even in this day and age of mass e-mail New Year’s wishes I do care. It took a lot of planning and effort to produce the card/poster, and a seizable amount of money in printing costs and stamps. All 300+ cards were folded and mailed by me personally to family, friends, acquaintances, clients, and a selection of people I have met and communicated with this past year. If you think you are entitled to receive one but haven’t yet, either it still is making its way to you, you moved and forgot to send me your new address, or I simply forgot to include you in my address list. If so, drop me a line. As long as I have copies left I will keep sending them out. Because we all still love to receive real, tangible mail.

    And for everyone – we wish you a rawkin’ New Year.

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    1. I’m blown away, your card did actually go to 11. So much is disposable now that when something comes along that has been labored over and loved, it really stands out. Great job sir.

      Posted by Corey Holms on Jan. 4, 2011
    2. I hate to admit this, but I’ve come to a point that whenever I receive one of those standard cards with a Christmas tree or Santa Claus I can only think: “You should have saved yourself the trouble, because you don’t really mean it.” Fortunately in the type and design business people still design cards themselves, and I always get quite a few beautiful ones.

      And when it’s kids in Santa hats, my wife Sabine and I always go: “You can make other kinds of pictures with your family.” We’ve become true Christmas card snobs. ; )

      Posted by Yves Peters on Jan. 5, 2011
    3. Amazing cards!!!

      Posted by Zarina Shah on Jan. 5, 2011
    4. Am I doin it wrong? I can’t find any going up to eleven, yours only go up to nine.
      That’s one less loud!

      Posted by Indra on Jan. 5, 2011
    5. Okay, to explain what I mean: Grab this gem of a Christmas card and look carefully bottom right on side two.

      Posted by indra on Jan. 6, 2011
    6. How can anyone have a family this talented and handsome.

      Posted by Niko Spelbrink on Jan. 6, 2011
    7. Damn, even I didn’t notice that the guitar amp has knobs that only go to nine! Well, we said our wishes go to eleven, not the amplifiers. Ours go only to nine to protect the audience, because we rawk like bastichs!

      Posted by Yves Peters on Jan. 6, 2011
    8. Love the poster Yves! Thanks very much. You’d better get your thinking cap on now if you’re going to top that next (this) year!

      BUT! – is that YouTube address for real? I’d love to see that vid if it exists.

      Posted by Nick Cooke on Jan. 7, 2011
    9. The clip was pulled due to copyright infringement; that’s why I linked a new clip in this article.

      Posted by Yves Peters on Jan. 7, 2011
    10. Yves, forgive me for being stupid, but – where?

      Posted by Nick Cooke on Jan. 8, 2011
    11. Boy, I am so proud to have been a little part of this (just pushing the button, of course…)

      Posted by Conchita Belaey on Jan. 8, 2011
    12. @Nick: This one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4udCtOLrlcQ

      @Conchita: You did so much more than just pushing the button. You just continued taking photographs, which is why I could design such an incredibly cool reverse side with all those great solo pictures of us.

      Posted by Yves Peters on Jan. 8, 2011
    13. Have a lucky 1-11-11! And make sure to add a picture of that Ayotte drum to the Custom Stop pool …

      Posted by Florian on Jan. 10, 2011
    14. Great concept, refreshing take on the New Years card. I’ll be aiming to do something similar once I get a few freelance clients… the corporate e-card culture (I’m thinking of Christmas e-cards now) is sadly lacking in all feeling, driven by the desire to save a few €€€ and a bit of time when writing out to clients… not the way it should be!

      Keep it real Yves :) Pleasure to pop by the blog as always, and Happy New Year to you and yours!

      Posted by David on Feb. 2, 2011

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