We have never once managed to get out a family holiday card, so why would I think we could do a full-on four panel roll brochure newsletter??
Well, I’m nuts. But When our daughter was born at the end of 2021, I felt a satisfying sense of completion family-wise, and I really wanted to start a tradition of sending an annual update to friends and family. And because I’m me, a simple holiday greeting from one of those awesome websites like minted wasn’t going to cut it.
My good friend and fellow designer Molly McCoy sends an amazing holiday card every year that plays with unexpected cuts to create surprising shapes. She introduced me to the Fold factory’s fold of the week and watching their weekly videos highlighting creative print design is one of my joys.
And so I spent much of 2022 plotting this newsletter format. i wanted it to be fun, unique, and, most importantly, easy to update. I know me and I love a good project, but the best projects are repeatable and build on previous creative feats.
I wanted to create something that was about the same size of a holiday card (4″ x 6″) when folded. I decided on a roll brochure that folds into itself with the mailing addresses on one side so we wouldn’t need an envelope. I decided that I needed four panels to accomplish what I wanted to.
Now, a 4″x6″ four panel brochure is not a standard size and custom print jobs are way more expensive. To keep costs down, I chose to use a standard size brochure (in this case, 9″ x 16″ or 9″ x 4″ folded) that we cut in-house to size. That also gave me the freedom to make it a fun shape: One cut on the diagonal gives the inside a fun zig-zag all the way down the right side.
Style-wise, I built upon the comic-book style format that we employed for the baby announcements that we created for our two kids. I had hoped we could tell the story of our year in a few panels, but that wasn’t in the cards. Between Will and me, we have hundreds of photos and as many memorable moments. There was no way we we were going to boil that down into four or eight panels in less than, I don’t know, 80 hours? We don’t have time for that! We have two kids!
While I really enjoyed thinking through the details of the project, the actual execution was a hell of a slog. I had planned to farm it out to a graphic designer, but I found the prospect of describing what I had sketched over and over again and providing the required photos and text far more daunting than just figuring it out myself in Photoshop. Now, I never use photoshop these days. In fact, I have never been actually educated in how to use photoshop. And it changes all the damn time! Every time I pick it up, it’s utterly painful to reacquaint myself with the ins and outs of how it works. And this was no exception.
it took forever. And not just the overall design. Picking a favorite photo of each of our kids took forever. Deciding on what to say about each person took forever. I hadn’t really thought through how long a project like this would take, and it’s lucky I didn’t or else I probably would have abandoned the idea before getting started!
that said — I am thrilled with how it turned out and I am cautiously optimistic that the resulting piece will be easy to update. Next year, I plan to update the background photo, the overall color scheme, the photos and the text. Ok, ok, no small feat, but The layout will remain basically the same. The plan is to have it to the printer by boxing day next year! (Fingers crossed!)
My favorite part is the “Who Wore it better?” panel. I just love my kids (SURPRISE!) and it’s such fun to put them in the same or similar outfits and compare the photos. Now that I know it’s a feature of the newsletter, It will be easy to categorize potential photos for inclusion throughout the year rather than going through years of photos on an endless treasure hunt like we did this year.
what do you think of the newsletter? is it a successful piece? I’d love to hear.