It’s not often that we creatives get the gift of doing whatever we want.
But when we do, it gives us the same excitement of opening a very special present — you just want to rip off the pretty bow and tear off the sparkly paper so you can see what’s inside the box.
But you have to take it slow. Painfully slow, even, because you’re so enthralled. You know the payoff is going to be worth it — there’s something amazing waiting for you.
That’s how it felt to work on this year’s holiday greeting, anyway. By now, you’ve hopefully seen our gift to you, our holiday greeting “Mottisimals: A Tiger’s Tale of Transformation.” After showing you the story of Jellybean the white tiger, I’m here to tell you the behind-the-scenes story of Mottisimals.
It’s the first holiday season with our new name, which made this project even more special for us. We wanted a departure from our past holiday greetings. Digital seemed like the right way to go. We set out to capture the contemporary feel of the new Mottis brand and put forth our team’s vibrant, creative energy to create something one-of-a-kind that would foster our team’s impressive illustration skills, social media savvy and creative writing chops and maybe do some good, too.
The idea for this year’s greeting stemmed from a T-shirt design we did over the summer – a made-up animal created from the parts of many, like the 1920s parlour game, “Exquisite Corpse.” The resulting sketches were pure silliness. A dog with seal flippers. A seahorse with a bird head. A ferret with octopus tentacles. Hybrids, neologisms, portmanteaux, — amalgamations of a new kind, like the Mottis name. We ended up going another direction for the T-shirt, but we revisited the idea for our holiday greeting project.
Thus, we came up with Mottisimal, user-created, digital animals comprised of different animal parts with meaning. The head of a shark. The body of a bear. The wings of a bird. The horns of a ram. Works of art representing individual self-expression and freedom.
As part of a holiday story, the user creates their Mottisimal and is asked to share their joyful creature with the world. And all for a good cause. When the user elects to share their Mottisimal via email or social media, we donate a dollar to charity.
We chose Carolina Tiger Rescue as the recipient of our gift. An animal-focused charity made sense because of the content, plus everyone at Mottis loves animals — even though we sometimes fight about dogs versus cats. We explored shelters, zoos and other wildlife foundations, but Carolina Tiger Rescue just felt right. We partnered with our developer, Illuminati Karate, who graciously donated their time to the cause as well.
From there, the rest of Mottisimals unfolded. Though we put in a lot of hours on and off the clock, the creative thinking came easily to our team.
First, we wrote the story about Jellybean, a real-life white tiger at Carolina Tiger Rescue. We wanted the story to make people feel warm inside, like a mug full of hot chocolate on a snowy December day. With nods to Clement Clarke Moore’s “The Night Before Christmas” and Norton Juster’s “The Phantom Tollbooth,” Jellybean embarks on a journey of self-discovery to the rhythm of rhyming couplets.
After brainstorming a long list of animals, we began to design the animal pieces, drawing inspiration from folk art and papercraft while staying true to the contemporary aesthetic of the Mottis brand. We looked to biology and other cultures for the details. For the drop caps, we embellished our brand typeface, Brandon Grotesque, to resemble hand lettering from historic tomes. We designed the interface with nostalgia in mind, a storybook to stir up the bedtime story magic of our childhoods.
From the initial sketches to the launch, I’ve come to appreciate what a wonderful opportunity this was to show off our talents. There is truly nothing like working on a project that just makes your team giggle together with unadulterated excitement in the middle of the afternoon, but that’s the kind of fun we had — a gift I’ll cherish always.