Vintage StoryBook Christmas Cards were created with inspiration from “Little Golden Books” and the admiration I have for the artists of the golden age of illustration. This year I worked on my first children’s book in collaboration with a writer who is a dear friend of mine. The research that I did for this project included the creative work of such artists as Mary Blair and Alice and Martin Provensen. The work of these mid century illustrators from the 1950s and 1960s proved invaluable inspiration to the new designs that I created for the 2017 Retro Christmas Card line.
Mary Blair was an American artist who was prominent in producing art and animation for The Walt Disney Company, drawing concept art for such films as Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Song of the South and Cinderella. Blair also created character designs for enduring attractions such as Disneyland‘s It’s a Small World, the fiesta scene in El Rio del Tiempo in the Mexico pavilion in Epcot‘s World Showcase, and an enormous mosaic inside Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Several of her illustrated children’s books from the 1950s remain in print, such as I Can Fly by Ruth Krauss. Blair was inducted into the prestigious group of Disney Legends in 1991.
Alice Provensen (born August 14, 1917) and Martin Provensen (July 10, 1916 – March 27, 1987) were an American couple who illustrated more than 40 children’s books together, 19 of which they also wrote and edited. According to Alice, “we were a true collaboration. Martin and I really were one artist.”
Their early lives were remarkably similar. Both were born in Chicago and both moved to California when they were twelve. Both received scholarships to the Art Institute of Chicago, and both attended the University of California, though at separate campuses. After college, Alice went to work with Walter Lantz Studio, the creators of Woody Woodpecker, and Martin took work with the rival Walt Disney Studio, where he collaborated on Dumbo, Fantasia, and Pinocchio.
The pair met in 1943 when Martin, working as a creator of training films for the American military, was assigned to the Walter Lantz Studio. They were married in 1944 and resettled in Washington, D.C., where they worked on war-related projects. After the war they moved to New York City where a friend helped them get their first job, illustrating The Fireside Book of Folk Songs. They illustrated several Little Golden Books including The Color Kittens by Margaret Wise Brown (1949). In 1952, Tony the Tiger, designed by Martin, debuted as a Kellogg’s mascot.
The couple lived for many years at Maple Hill Farm in Dutchess County, New York, which they portrayed in A Year at Maple Hill Farm (1978) as well as Our Animal Friends.[
A bit of a departure from the Mid Century Modernism style that I have worked in on other designs, these cards all have a different style. The style is sweeter, warmer and intentionally childlike. The Vintage Storybook Inspired Christmas Cards style is a perfect approach to Retro Christmas Card illustrations since many of our most precious holiday memories are formed in childhood. I hope you will send them to friends and family to bring back some warm memories of your own.
Credit to Wikipedia on Mary Blair bio.