Christmas artwork workflow patrol’s here.

As the most wonderful time of the year is approaching and everybody is getting busy with choosing presents, decorating their Christmas trees, and standing beneath the mistletoe hoping for a kiss, allowed to sleep, we are not. 

Within the whole design history, there were many ups and downs when it came to Christmas. Some artworks evoke that one warm and festive feeling, and some just stand there in the corner as an example of how you should not do, really. Thankfully, with the help of the Internet community, they get transformed into memes pretty quickly, and we might find another source of amusement during our lunch breaks at the office. Neat!

That being said, we’ve been going around 9gag archives and different subreddits to check on the most miserable Christmas designs that needed fixing and found the three we thought needed it the most. I and Mary decided to rework them just for a bit of additional fun. Naturally, the job involved a solid bit of online proofing. Shall we show the result to you?

I bet we shall. Enjoy!

10 Inappropriate Lights

This is the one that has become a pretty famous meme over the last several years. To be honest, this package design would be the one I’d gladly add to college and university guidebooks as a great example of a thing that should not be. The inscription would say: “Younglings, remember: kerning is important!”.

However, I bet it would not be entirely fair to the original designer because I don’t really believe you could do that accidentally. My take: it was a well-thought trolling of the client who happened to be too impatient. Or nosy. Or bossy. Or everything at the same time. How else can you make flickering lights suggest such inappropriate things to you?

Flickering Lights package. Font seems very confusing

Thankfully, we managed to fix the issue with the help of our artwork approval system Approval Studio and provide our designer with all necessary edit suggestions. The texts that are hardly visible on this package were added as a reference document.

Screenshot exmple from Approval Studio, showing comments

Basically, we did not do much here, just changed the font, its kerning and made the word “flickering” look like what it was supposed to initially. Here’s the mockup of our final version, and it surely doesn’t swear at anyone.

The same package with better font

P.S. We did not want to make the whole unfolded package since we do not know how the original looks, so, basically, we made only what we could see. Here are two versions in our artwork software’s compare mode in case you wanted to see both of them:

Comparing both packages with Approval Studio tool

Would you like to review artworks in the same fashion as we did? We are willing to share our experience with you for free!

Asking Santa to Stop

Uhm… the creators didn’t really think about what associations this seemingly friendly sign might arouse. Everybody wants Santa to stop near their homes to treat him with some milk and cookies, but hey! You might want to be a bit more specific about that and not end it mid-sentence. Otherwise, questions will be asked. My questions are: who approved this? And what digital asset management software did they use?

Sign inscription: "Santa I've been a good girl please stop"

I will not criticize the illustration itself (although I do not really like it, to be honest), but the inscription makes me fall into a stupor, wondering what’s the meaning of all this. I thought I was the only one who was confused by the message, but folks on the Internet decided the sign was giving pretty sinister ideas as well. We definitely needed to fix it, so we uploaded the pic to our digital asset library.

Screenshot example of communication of the desgin via Approval Studio

After all the reviews, there you have it – a totally innocent and welcoming Christmas sign, not the one that could scare any reindeer off. And the snowman looks much friendlier!

Edited sign: "Santa, we have cookies please stop here"

And here’s the comparison in Approval Studio’s compare mode:

Comparison of two designs

Creepy Album Cover

So, the last one came to us from the far 1958 (or 57, different sources give different info). It is called A First Christmas Record For Children and, basically, is a Christmas song compilation by various artists. The very name suggests to us that it was purposed for kids, and it is not a bad bunch of songs, after all. However, as usual, there’s one big OOOOOPSIE connected with the art approval.

There are several variants of the cover that include different shots of a boy on a sleigh and a Santa Claus mask. In the first variant, the mask was lying near the boy, but in the second, he decided to put it on. The result is what you might call mildly disturbing and creepy – as if the mask wasn’t frustrating enough on its own account. If I ever have kids, I would rather not show them this one if I don’t want them scared. One more evidence that online proofing for designers is of the highest importance.

Album cover with creepy Santa

We are not sure what was the cause of it – the late 50s trends (why, though?), the lack of materials to work with, or just a very… let’s say peculiar designer’s approach. My point is that the mask can scare the hell out of everyone due to how mismatched it looks on a small boy’s head and how grotesque and unfriendly Santa’s head looks. We decided to take our shot on the cover, and here’s how our ideas looked like:

Thanks to our designer, we now have a whole different image. We decided to replace the boy with an artwork of Santa and make it look a bit more festive. Hope the kids would like that one better!

Edited design of more friendly Santa

In case you were wondering, here’s a side-by-side comparison in our Approval Studio compare tool:

Two album covers comparison

Also, as a bonus, our designer toyed with the element placement and fonts a bit so that it matched the new style better, and here’s what he came up with:

Edited album cover with more holiday font of the name: "A First Christmas Record for Children"

Which of our two variants is better, how do you think?

Murderous Cup

A variety of cool Christmas presents is totally uncanny, but I can almost guarantee that everybody loves cups. Cups mean coffee or tea, which keep you warm in the chilly winter evenings. They are part of the coziness while you are watching Home Alone for the millionth time. But can this be cozy?

Bloody-like cup

Well, it probably can, as this design is not as terrible as all the previous ones. Still, the color choice does not calm me down – I guess I find it rather disturbing as the red kinda reminds me of blood. Seriously, I get a feeling like it could easily be Hannibal Lecter’s or Dexter’s cup. Needs fixing!

Example of design communication in the app

Mary exchanged the colors and turned the red into the blue – reminds of snow rather than blood and looks overall much more festive. I’d drink some tea to that!

The same cup painted in blue

And here are two versions side by side:

Comparison of two cup designs

Final Thoughts

So, although we might become a pretty decent team of reindeer should the festivities begin, we do not carry Santa’s sleighs. What we carry is the message to all designers out there – always have your work approved before you put it out to the market and use online proofing tools to do it. Otherwise, it might catch a great deal of attention, but it won’t be the exact attention you needed. If you are still wondering how you can do it, ask us – Approval Studio has all the answers you are looking for! And, what is most important, don’t forget to have a good laugh with your nearest and dearest at this wonderful season!

Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year to everyone!

Matthew Roberts is a guy who loves reading and writing whatever he can get his hands on - from project management articles to spicy rock'n'roll guitar riffs. He's been working with Approval Studio since 2018 and continues to do so now, which is why you are currently reading this small clumsy text, obviously. With a solid experience in marketing, creative team management, translation, teaching, and occasional freelancing masochism, he decided that it was a high-time to settle down a bit and finally learn how to use a coffee machine. Approval Studio office happened to have one, so he stayed, learned, and soon enough started working from home. Big and bald.

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