Every year my dad would make his own Christmas cards, silk screen masterpieces with both outside cover and inside artwork, sometimes using as many as four different colors for each image. He would meticulously make his own screens, by hand, part of a long, tedious and time-consuming process which he began in August, with drawings. Each year was unique, inspired, and often somewhat representative of the popular styles of its era - his 60’s cards, for instance, are unmistakably so. I’m not sure what year Robert Cottingham started this wonderful Cottingham tradition, but I suspect it was early on in my parent’s marriage, so there are probably Christmas cards out there from the early 1950’s, and he never skipped a year right up until his death in 1982, while working on the 1982/83 card.
My first holiday card was actually a playbill drawing for a theatrical production of Dicken’s "The Christmas Bride", which they liked so much they turned it into packs of Christmas cards for sale in the lobby of the show. I received my fair share of them, and sent them out as my holiday card that year. I skipped a couple of years before drawing another, skipped a year, then did the first of what has proven an annual tradition in / since 1998. Like my dad, I try to do something a little different from year to year, and am often influenced by current events. But unlike my dad, I simply draw a single image, no screens, nothing compared to the amount of effort he needed, and yet, I’m always feeling the pressure to get it done before it’s too late, the time crunch. I’ve had a whole year to draw a single postcard, but you wouldn’t know it by me come November.
We have our best conversations when I’m drawing a holiday card, because he’s in every drawing I do, and who else could better help me from beyond than the greatest artist I’ve ever known? Truth be told, I couldn’t and wouldn’t have done it without him.
These days the first printing of the card is the Santacon version, it says "Happy Santacon" instead of "Happy Holidays", and I hand out about a thousand of them at the NYC Santacon. I am Santa, after all, so it does make sense that I would participate in an annual convention of drunken Santa revelry and elf-touchers. The second printing is a few hundred, and these get mailed out to family and friends and a couple hundred other people I owe money to.
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