STICKERS | FACEBOOK| NOVEMBER 2016
00. The briefing:
One day I got an email from someone working on Facebook asking me if I’d be willing to develop a sticker pack. Of course I was very excited to do it so after getting all the propper NDAs signed they told me what they had been thinking about:
- The theme would be “Holidays suck” as in “bad things that happen to anyone during the December holidays“,
- They wanted a pop art/vintage comic aesthetic for it, as in the inversion of the 50s “perfect happy family” trope,
- They had an open list of ideas that they wanted to represent, such as “drowning your sorrows in holiday treats + alcohol”, “seriously, this is my gift?” or “the moment you realize you got someone a gift but they did not get you one (or vice versa)”.
They offered to be very directive ir I needed them to or to leave me more freedom if I wanted, so of course I chose the second and got to work.
01. Research and inspiration
What had triggered the email in the first place was my “Girl Power” merchandising illustration that I had made for my merch brand Cowabunga. So of course both Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol would have to be huge inspirations, but also any vintage comic or pop inspiration I could gather would be useful. I also took a lot of inspiration from internet memes, because I think memes are contemporary pop art and part of the language of Facebook:
I identified the first challenge right away: in such small size, with such a detailed asthetic, representing such complex ideas would be tough. So I told my contact that the first we would do would be to try to nail down the concepts and see what came out of that. I took my notebook and started to make some very, very rough sketches. It was very satisfying to realize that I could actually make them work on paper.
These sketches I didn’t dare to send to the client. I sent these ones instead, which are also very rough but are clear enough for me to get the idea across and start to introduce a color palette:
Once we got some ideas that we liked, we started to polish some of them to settle an aesthetic. I decided a thickness of trace and a 7×7 color grid made out of 7 colors and 7 halftones of those same colors, always at the same size. I picked some very bright and holidayish colors that still conveyed the idea and let me play with different skin tones.
04. Some iteration examples
At the end of the day, 20 stickers were published but I made many, many more. There was a lot of back and forth and idea exploration with each of them. Some did not come out because we got concerned we had gotten too literal on some references and/or I can’t show because they’re property of Facebook and they decided to not release them yet, and some ideas were abandoned along the way in favor of other (in the end we could only keep 24). Here are some of the ones I can explain, just so you get an idea:
Drowning your sorrows in holiday treats + alcohol:
The first sketch was fun, we liked the bottle frame. We decided to go for a more defiant than crying look and I tried some ideas, but it all fit together just right when I threw the text bubble and some Gatsby in (always a fan). Of course we didn’t want to get sued by Leonardo Di Caprio, so on the process of making the face different but the meme still recognizable I decided I wanted to be a Facebook sticker and put my face in. (And yes now I spam my face at any chance I get).
The holidays are not diet friendly / I can’t fit into my holiday pants:
Now this is something I couldn’t think of: the first draft was not okay because it read too sexual, so we tried a bunch of other things. In the end I made it as excessive as I could (which in my language is Monty Python) and then toned it down a notch for readability.
Seriously, this is my gift? / Um, thank you? (holding crappy present)
We swapped the gender of the main character because we didn’t want to make it too simmilar to Lichtenstein’s work (also, the tie is the international icon for a bad present). As you will have probably noticed by now, Facebook advocates for gender, race and culture inclusion in their stickers (which I think is an amazing policy and I must admit the imposition helped me ditch the comfort zone and be coherent with my own beliefs) so at the end of the process, since we wanted to change up the gender and race of some of the stickers, I decided to redraw the whole thing to turn it into a meme.
Eager / Disappointed under the mistletoe
We loved this one but in the end we changed it up because we were afraid it would hurt some gender susceptibilities. Still the new one has some (different, but still) neat communicative value that I think holds up well even after holidays.
Bored Rudolph’s head
This was entirely my idea. Admittedly it doesn’t really revolve around a scene but I thought it was too potentially iconic an image to not draw it. At the time I was almost sad they accepted it because it would have solved my christmas postcard for that year, but it was great they did so I could make the one I made…
…But once again, that’s another story.
I had a lot of fun with this project and I’m happy the end result is something that is free for everyone to use and something that we can all have a laugh with. Go get them here:
(I’m not sure if it benefits me in any way that you click, but still, I’d like you to have fun with them).