Christmas, as we all know ‘tis the season to be jolly, eat mince pies, and wrap up warm. When it came to embracing the season several months early on a warm sunny day in July we knew we had to get into the right headspace, looking for Christmas hats to wear and playing the odd carol to let the creativity mull in the winter spices. Leeds Castle’s Traditions of Christmas was upon us and the challenge was to touch upon the nostalgia that we all know and love about Christmas, while bringing something fresh and engaging to the timeless Castle.

We’ve been working with the marketing department for over ten years, and function very much as an extension of their team. This year’s Christmas campaign is a perfect demonstration of how trust has built over the many years of working together, to culminate in something really rather lovely, and festive.

We constantly challenge ourselves to do more when it comes to bringing the event alive, and give our audience a real feel for the delights that await them when they visit, rather than simply relying on an image of the Castle to sell the proposition. Christmas offers us the opportunity to take a completely fresh look at the creative, and hot on the success of last year’s collaboration with Beatrix Potter, we continued to push the boundaries.

Leeds Castle reindeer sketch

We delved into the origins of the traditions of Christmas that we have today; Christmas trees, wreaths, crackers, pantomimes, cards and so on and found they all started way back in the Victorian era. Grounding our concepts in this time period led us to looking into the Art Nouveau style and following that the Art Deco movement. The fantastic ornate fonts and richly detailed illustrations are still staples of the festive season and we presented a variety of options that tapped into this creative vein.

In partnership with the marketing team, the chosen concept puts the castle front and centre in an art deco inspired illustration which we crafted in-house. For me this meant getting out the pencils, paper and getting my hands black with ink which was a joy to work with again (it has been a few years since art college!).

Leeds Castle Christmas magazine image

The nature of creating illustration for ads meant that the artwork needed to be flexible and fit many different formats, from bus sides to web banners. With this in mind we took the pen and paper drawings into our digital canvasses to be coloured in. Working hard and smart to capture the feel of vintage illustrations we offset bold colours and repeating printed textures to mimic a screenprint.

We love working with our clients in this collaborative way and see it as the real pinnacle of a successful relationship. It’s therefore particularly fulfilling when we see this teamwork pay off, and the end result is the perfect balance of client knowledge and expertise, and our insight and fresh approach to a project.

Now that the season is upon us, our creative is out in the world and we eagerly await the campaign’s results and look forward to seeing what Santa brings us next July.

Leeds Castle Christmas illustration