Editor’s Note: This project won Best of Region for the East in PRINT’s 2016 Regional Design Awards. See all of the winners here, and don’t forget to enter the 2017 Regional Design Awards.
What could have been a production nightmare with this custom eight-panel laser-cut holiday card wasn’t. It’s intricate in every sense of the word. But for designer Zipeng Zhu, it was one of the smoothest projects he’s ever worked on.
This was thanks in large part to commissioning firm A to A Studio Solutions, a full-service graphic production studio. The card would both serve as a holiday thank you to A to A’s friends and clients and let their production capabilities fully shine. “The brief couldn’t get simpler—create a holiday card using the full gamut of A to A’s services,” Zhu says. “The rest was open.”
With that, he let his creativity run wild. Really wild. “Every single element of this project is made out of ‘X’s,” Zhu says, nodding to the “XXXXXXXMAS” concept behind the project. That includes seven custom-designed ‘X’s, the message on the back page that’s made of ‘X’s, and an ‘X’ envelope to hold the card, sealed, naturally, with an ‘X’ sticker.
With the sky as the limit from a production standpoint, there was only one thing to do: Test the boundaries. “You never know how extreme you can be until you try,” Zhu says. That involved establishing a baseline for how thinly A to A could cut without compromising the quality. Quite often, Zhu’s designs would look great on screen, but would lose form once they were laser cut. “The finesse necessary to execute this project was a bit unexpected,” he says.
Judge Gail Anderson is familiar with both A to A Studio and Zhu. In fact, she discloses that Zhu is a former student. “Biased? I don’t think so,” Anderson says. “It was playful, tasty and served as a clever vehicle for spotlighting A to A’s masterful production capabilities. While it doesn’t address a societal issue or solve a complex problem through design, perhaps sometimes it’s OK to just love something because it makes you smile.”