Sunday, March 21, 2010


If you're an artist or designer, you've undoubtedly been asked by a family member or friend to whip up some cool invitations in a day or two for a party happening in a day or two. Thank God for Illustrator templates!! All kidding aside, I always try to help out a friend in need and try to make each and every wedding invite - or business card or letterhead or logo or ad for the pee-wee baseball booster club catalog - personal. I always have fun with these 'personal' projects because there isn't a whole lot of pressure involved and I always get a kick out of their reaction when the project is done. You can guess at my excitement when my mom asked me design an invite for my grandma's 90th birthday. Not only is it a very rare and special occasion, but my grandma is also probably the harshest critic I've ever met. She barely likes anything! My whole goal was to prove her wrong.

My first step was to look at her life and make a list of all the things that are in it. The one thing that really gets her blood circulating is gambling. If she's not at a bingo hall (hence the bingo card theme), then she's hitting the slots. She always seems to have a deck of cards in hand. Another thing, make that 12 things, that surround her are her kids. Yup, you heard right, this little 4 foot, 8 inch hobbit of a person popped out 12 whole kids! That's them scattered out on every other square. While raising all of them, she worked in her own dress shop as a seamstress. That's where the needle and thread come in. Lechon, a Filipino food which is basically a roasted pig, is her favorite food. She also enjoys scrap-booking and collecting photos so that's why the album is there. The rest of the bingo squares are filled in with stuff grandmas need like medication and canes. Oh yeah, the plastic bag (or suitcase) is what she uses to carry her clothes and personal effects around because every month she rotates living between her kids' homes. I call it a 'hobo' bag.

When her kids saw the invitation, wild laughter filled the room! I guess they thought I really nailed her personality, especially the gambling part. They got a kick out of seeing themselves captured in little icons too. I won't lie, I did give myself a pat on the back for a job well done. It wasn't easy because of all the kids' faces and it took a lot longer than expected. There's no way my grandma wouldn't like it, was there?? As I approached her, card in hand with my chin held high, I couldn't help but think she'd be proud of her grandson.

Well, judging from her so so reaction, I'll have to wait for her to turn 100 to get another chance to knock her socks off with my artistic ability. She really didn't like the whole gambling angle and wanted me to remove the slot machine, the card suits, and the word 'BINGO' from the top of the invite. Hey, it may hurt to have a mirror pointed at her exposing her little 'addiction' but I really didn't think it warranted a "no thanks" and a "do-over", especially cuz I put in so much effort and did it on my own free time. It's not like everyone who knows her is unaware of her habit. Little does she know that 100 of them have already been mailed out and it's posted on my blog for all to see! Happy 90th grandma!!