In our time honored tradition of sending an illustrated family portrait (started in 2012), we commissioned the lovely and talented Cecilia Ruiz to create this year’s holiday greeting. Cecilia is a graduate of the renowned School of Visual Arts MFA Illustration as Visual Essay program where Matthew teaches, and is seriously one of the most enchanting ladies you will ever meet. All of the details in her artwork brilliantly capture the spirit of our eventful year!
Because we tend to love extremely custom and overly complicated executions, we decided the only suitable solution for sealing the envelope was with our own wax seal (obviously!) We had a custom one made with the double-R crest from our Disney shirts and hashtag #royalrichmonds. It’s a pleasant surprise that the wax seals made it through the US Postal Service intact — mostly.
Thank you again to Cecilia for working with us to create this amazing keepsake for our family!
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Calling all type nerds! More fun with the Silhouette Cameo cutter… this time making typography-inspired snowflakes, each in a unique pattern created with the letters in our names.
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This summer we did more traveling than we usually do. In July, Matthew and I took a much needed parents-only vacation to London
to stalk Kate Middleton to visit my cousin and adopted the hashtag #RoyalRichmonds as we Instagrammed our adventures at all the royal sights. In August, we packed up the kiddies and made our third trip to Disney World in our matching custom shirts, of course. For this year’s design, we took a little inspiration from London and created a coat of arms with a Disney twist!
The illustration includes symbolism of both Disney and NYC. The shield supporter on the left is Mufasa (of The Lion King fame), and opposite him is Patience, one of the NY Public Library lions (trivia alert: the other library lion is named Fortitude.) They’re wearing iconic headwear of Mickey ears and Lady Liberty’s crown, and are standing atop the public transportation for each location. The four quadrants of the crest each represent one of the Richmonds (Cooper’s Minecraft sword wound up working really nicely with this concept.)
Rather than use typical Avery iron-on sheets to transfer the art to the shirts, we took things up a notch and finally got the Silhouette Cameo cutter we’ve been coveting for a while. This thing can get craaazy detailed! After importing the art from Illustrator into the Studio software, the Cameo die cut it on the sticky transfer paper and then Matthew painstakingly removed all the negative areas with a little pick that looks like a dental tool. We then spent about 2.5 hours total actually ironing the art onto the shirts. This was definitely much longer than the instructions let on, but the end result came out way better than we could have done without the Cameo!
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We can’t believe that Cooper is already six years old! Having to count your age on two hands instead of one is a pretty big deal, so we celebrated with a candy-filled carnival birthday party for him and all his Kindergarten buddies.
We filled up our building lounge with 100 brightly colored balloons and created a sweets table inspired by an Amy Atlas book given to me by our talented friend Marissa Levy. We created our own birthday buttons (a Richmond tradition), and I wore a custom red pocket apron like a true carny! Coop and his friends played classic carnival games, inked themselves with temporary tattoos by Tattly (thanks, Tina!) and beat the heck out of a number 6 pinata… but the biggest hit was the amazingly fun photo booth! Matthew used some pretty sweet camera equipment and his perfect lighting skills to create a pro-style set so the kids could snap their own epic shots. We set out silly props like hats, beads and mustaches and talk bubbles on sticks. Our friend – and really good sport – Eric ran the printing station so everyone got to take their photos home with them. I think the parents had as much fun as the kids! When it came time to sing “happy birthday,” the kids munched on super delicious and festive color surprise cupcakes by Kristin Cimonetti.
Happy birthday Cooper!
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Who needs the Instagram/Flickr photo wars when you can keep it real 18th century style with a hand painted family portrait instead?
As part of our effort to revive this lost art via our family holiday card, we decided to tap into the immensely talented pool of alumni from the School of Visual Arts MFA Illustration as Visual Essay program that Matthew has had the pleasure of teaching in for many years. I remembered meeting Rebecca Zomchek at the graduate thesis show and knew she could perfectly capture our vision of “realistic, with somewhat awkward and serious pose and symbolic elements, a la The Royal Tennenbaums movie poster and The Arnolfini Wedding by Jan Van Eyck.” Everything in the painting (including our clothing!) represents events or milestones that happened in our family over the past year. Cooper participated in the art direction and was very adamant about the fact that he wanted Rebecca to correctly render his shoes.
We printed the cards 6″x6″ square, and sent to family and friends in a kraft paper envelope decorated with stamps of hand-drawn art.
Huge thanks again to Rebecca for working with us to create this amazing keepsake and helping us start a kick-ass tradition we plan on continuing every year.
In the Halloween wake of Hurricane Sandy, our little 6 and F trains were, quite literally, the only subways running at the time. Matthew outdid himself yet again and created another gorgeous, completely custom handcrafted subway car — though scaled down slightly to fit Holden! Cooper wanted to wear his for the third year in a row with an updated train line (in prior years, it was formerly a 3 train and a 7 train.) I fear for what we’ll have to build next when he finally outgrows it…
I will jump at any opportunity to have us wear matching shirts (have you seen our baseball party?). I know there is a only finite amount of time I can continue to do this before I am met with eye rolls, refusals and sighs of, “mom, you are so weird and lame.” And so, a new tradition was born. While the kiddos still think it is the most fun thing ever, on the day of departure of our annual family vacation we’ll all don custom t-shirts designed by us!
Our trip this year was to the happiest place on earth, Disney World. The inspiration for the illustration came from some hand-drawn infographics we’d seen recently, as well as private jokes and fun moments from our first trip to Disney last year. The kids got to participate in creating the shirt by choosing which rides and stories to highlight (lunch with Pooh and It’s a Small World were must-haves) and helping art direct me as I drew.
Check out some photos of our trip (and shirts) on Flickr.
April 9th marks the 9th anniversary of our awesomely creative (and geeky) engagement. Matthew had been up late “working” for many nights, which is the norm, but this time his real reason for burning the midnight oil was this incredible creation.
We used to buy Kinder Surprise Egg candies for each other all the time. If you aren’t familiar, it is a chocolate egg that contains a tiny, whimsical toy with assembly instructions inside. They are so much fun — maybe too much fun — sadly, the US banned them from import a few years ago.
Matthew painstakingly took apart the chocolate egg and replaced the toy inside with a small robot figure and illustrated instructions on how to assemble him into a tiny MatthewBot on bended knee. Also inside was my amazing ring! He then reassembled and rewrapped the egg to look virtually untouched.
Obviously, I said yes.
Thank you Swissmiss, Vanity Fair Italy, Daily Mail, BoingBoing and blogs around the world for featuring our engagement story.
Disclaimer: This is an excerpt from an actual email from Cooper’s teacher that came to my inbox yesterday. I almost fell over when I read it. As designers, we’re trying to raise design-minded kids and Cooper has always shown an affinity for typography from a very young age… but no one will believe us when we say we aren’t forcing this on him. He IS right about Comic Sans, though. Maybe he’ll start a movement to improve typography in preschool classrooms across America!
Ya can’t make this stuff up, folks.
Watch Cooper (at age 3!) try to convince the internet that his dad loves Zapfino.
The moment Holden picked up his ukulele and stuck a harmonica in his mouth, we knew we had a tiny Bob Dylan on our hands. Naturally, the next logical step was to convert our building lounge into a rock club for his 2nd birthday party!
Holden’s favorite music teacher, John Carlin of The Kids Music Underground, was coming to perform so we created a kid-friendly stage area complete with theater curtain, custom music-themed posters (including our own version of Milton Glaser’s famous Dylan illustration), prop guitars and a Fender amp. Club-goers were given “admit one, age two” wristbands upon entering the party, and VIP family wore laminated all-access passes. The Dylan poster art appeared again on yet another cake crafted by the talented crew at Betty Bakery, and Holden’s lil rockstar buddies left the show with branded harmonicas as favors.
Special thank you to Apartment Therapy for naming Holden’s rockstar party one of the best of 2012!
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