I honestly love advent calendars almost as much as I love picture books but although I did make one of my own before I ever studied illustration (it was seriously limited edition – I had to cut all the doors by hand with a scalpel), somehow this is my first since becoming a professional illustrator.

I always mean to make one in August, but it’s hard to feel Christmassy in the summer. So I carved out a little window in November last year. I had to keep expanding that window as the screenprinting was the most intricate I’ve ever done, but I loved designing and making the calendar and sneaking in little stories. Maybe I needed all these years of procrastination to get good enough at miniscule screenprinting.

I screenprinted the main illustration and all the tiny pictures to go inside and then had the calendar printed digitally, die-cut and assembled in Cornwall on FSC-certified card.

I guess it was a determinedly non-topical scene: I wanted a real Christmas, with families able to be together without worrying and just take that for granted. But when the calendars arrived and started selling (almost all of them in one weekend, which was a big shock), I ended up feeling very glad I’d made them in 2020 because it became clear people were sending them to the people they were missing – as I was myself. And I didn’t realise how nice it’d be to think of so many of my family and friends and people I’ve met through books and online opening the doors each day.

I hope I can make another one next year!