Creating Zendesk’s 2018 holiday card

Nick Levesque
Dec 10, 2018 · 5 min read

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas and you know what that means: Mariah Carey, Amazon Prime, and tech company holiday cards. Christmas is all business, baby.

Our 2018 holiday card was tons of fun to make with several steps involved. In the spirit of giving, I thought I’d share our process — because the best way to spread Christmas cheer is making fake cookies with all of your peers.

Concept

I tasked our newest designer Melanie to come up with some ideas. When she pitched the first one, we were all like “yas, done, nailed it.” The idea was to turn our illustration style and characters into gingerbread cookies.

Honorable mentions include (and I quote):
• Weird wreath with wooden characters.
• Jello with religious symbols in it.
• Stars — like hella stars.

Once we all agreed on the cookie direction, I took a look through our illustration library from the super talented Marcus Oakley. I was looking for illustrations that could best translate into a cookie with holiday or business software themes. There was something about turning mundane work iconography into cookies that made me smile.

I ultimately settled on a happy face, star, present, chat bubble, envelope, and of course, our logo. To see what they’d look like as iced cookies, I created vector mockups.

Construction

We debated whether or not to make real gingerbread cookies. Pros of real cookies: they look real. Cons of real cookies: fragile, oils would get on our paper set, iffy about our icing skills, can’t keep them forever. We all agreed to fake it.

  • For the cookies and icing we used oven-bake clay. It’s a moldable clay that hardens once baked.
  • To start, we printed templates of the cookies at actual size.
  • We placed parchment paper on top of the templates, then shaped the clay into our desired shapes on top of the templates.
  • To create a cookie texture, we pressed seashells and nutshells into the clay.
Deez nuts
  • We brushed the edges with dark brown chalk pastels to give the illusion of baked edges.
  • To get the right look for the icing we combined white with a bit of translucent clay together. Was this step necessary? Unclear. 😏
  • We rolled the clay into thin tubes. It’s actually great if there are uneven bumps in the clay so it looks more realistic.
  • We traced the templates with the icing to create the illustrations for the cookies.
  • When everything was complete, we baked the tray with the icing for 15 minutes at 275 degrees. The cookies baked for 1 hour at 275.
  • Once cooled down, we brushed a gloss glaze on the icing. This could also be done with a glossy clear spray.
  • Last step in the cookie creation was to glue the icing onto the cookies. Voila, cookies that look good enough to deceit. Well, sort of. We won’t quit our day jobs.

Picture day

To prep for any photoshoot I do a Photoshop mockup to show our photographer Marta exactly what I’m picturing. I created two options, but we all preferred the cookies on the plate. It had more dimension and it looked like the cookies were being presented and ready to eat.

While staging the cookies we decided it was looking a little crowded, so we reduced the number on the plate. Pour some milk out for the stars we lost.

Copy

Typically when I work with our copywriter Lauren I get a funny headline to work with, then I start thinking about an image. We worked in reverse this time and I was relieved that she could come up with the perfect line to make it seem like the image was tailor made for the copy.

Hope the only thing on your plate this holiday season is cookies.

Honorable mentions include (in order of things that make sense):
• Serving up holiday joy.
• Mmm, freshly-baked greetings.
• We like our cookies like we like our ware, soft.

Signed, sealed, delivered

Here’s a look at the final holiday card. Hallmark’s got nothin’ on us. Huge thanks to the team: Melanie, Eve, Lauren, and Marta.

Season’s eatings.

Check out design.zendesk.com for more thought leadership, design process, and other creative musings.

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Zendesk Creative Collection

We're a blend of art, copy, video, and product design. We come from different backgrounds, but we share one passion as the Creative team—making compelling work for Zendesk.

Nick Levesque

Written by

Art Director | nlevesque.com | instagram.com/nicholaslevesque

Zendesk Creative Collection

We're a blend of art, copy, video, and product design. We come from different backgrounds, but we share one passion as the Creative team—making compelling work for Zendesk.

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