Art

The Big Issue's Christmas art wrapping paper is back – these are the stories behind the designs

The Big Issue's eagerly anticipated festive wrapping paper is here. Here are the stories behind some of the designs

The Big Issue's Christmas art wrapping paper is here!

The weather’s turned colder, the nights are drawing in and holly-jolly music is echoing down the aisles of the nation’s supermarkets.

In other words, Christmas is just around the corner, and the Big Issue’s eagerly anticipated festive wrapping paper is here.

Every year, The Big Issue teams up with some of the country’s best contemporary artists to create exclusive, highly collectable Christmas art wrapping paper. This year’s line-up of acclaimed artists are: Patrick Hughes, Alma Singer, Stanley Donwood, Augustine and Bridgland, David Speed, Victoria Topping, Aida Wilde and Andrew Millar.

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Limited-edition signed sheets of the gorgeous designs are now on sale, as well as packs of five regular sheets of the Christmas wrapping paper. Socially conscious shoppers can browse and buy the designs now at bigissueshop.com. All proceeds go into supporting Big Issue Group’s work with some of the most marginalised people in the country.

But don’t take it from us ­– here’s what some of our artists had to say about their designs.

Patrick Hughes

Patrick Hughes’ rainbow design

Patrick Hughes has created a vibrant rainbow design to spread positivity this festive season. The innovative painter has “always enjoyed” the rainbow symbol.

“It is both an extraordinary happening in the sky, and a trite and sentimental symbol,” he told the Big Issue. “What I have been doing for years and years is finding something new for the rainbow to do, hanging it over the moon, sending it to prison, or filling the sky from edge to edge.”

Hughes is one of the key figures in contemporary British painting and the pioneer of Reverspective paintings. These, together with his rainbow works, have become hugely popular due their playful and intriguing nature, and surrealist edge. Equally playful is his choice of a festive gift for the entire UK.

“If I could buy everyone in the UK a Christmas present it would be a warm and constant cuddle, which are not for sale,” he said.

Alma Singer – Everything Is Going to be Ok

Alma Singer’s “Everything Is Going to be Ok”

Alma Singer’s “Everything Is Going to be Ok” artworks continue the rainbow theme.

“The dripping rainbow is an image I use quite frequently in my work. The drips weren’t originally intended, I’m just kind of bad at painting, and they ended up being a happy accident,” she said.

Alma Singer is the alter-ego of Carla Nizzola, an art school graduate who quit being an artist 15 years ago. She now works as a curator with her own gallery, while Alma’s works have been included at prestigious auction houses alongside that of Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons and Tracey Emin. 

While she’s sick of the “oversaturated consumerist bullshit and mind-fuckingly irritating music” that Christmas can bring, the esteemed curator is excited to contribute to The Big Issue.

“Christmas can be a tough time for a lot of people and it’s a privilege to participate in a project that helps a little,” Singer said.

Stanley Donwood – Evenfall

Stanley Donwood’s Evenfall design

If you’re a music fan, you’ve probably already encountered Stanley Donwood’s work. Donwood is the artist of choice for Radiohead, and his evocative and haunting imagery has shaped their distinctive visual identity. Since 2002, he has also created the official artwork for Glastonbury Festival, as well as countless other projects. For The Big Issue, he brings us this enchanting “Evenfall” design.

Aida Wilde – Love is Contagious

Aida Wilde’s “Love is Contagious”

Aida Wilde’s “Love is Contagious” is available in two colourful and bold designs. Aida is the founder of Print is Power and Sisters In Print projects and her screen-printed installations and social commentary posters have graced city streets around the world.

Her ‘Love is Contagious’ artwork is a reflection on the joyful things in life – “simple, shared commonalities” like laughter and dance – that are, in their own way, infectious.

Amidst the cost of living crisis, such communal experiences are all the more necessary, she insists. So too, is helping the less fortunate.

“In light of the recent absurd comments made by our [former] home secretary, one of them being about “Homelessness being a lifestyle choice”, it is now more important than ever to support and raise awareness to the rising unfortunate circumstances [some people] are forced into,” Wilde said.

Augustine and Bridgland – Garden Sessions August

Garden Sessions by Augustine and Brigland

Leading print makers and artists Augustine and Bridgland’s design “Garden Sessions August” is a kaleidoscope of colour.

“It was an honour to be asked [to create the Christmas wrapping paper],” said Adam Bridgland, one half of the artistic duo.

“It is a hugely important cause and if we can raise awareness and funds at this time of the year we are doing our job as creatives.”

A graduate of the Royal College of Art, Bridgland has shown widely both in the UK and internationally, recently at the London Art Fair, and as part of the Courtauld Institute of Art’s East Wing Project. His partner Danny Augustine studied Fine Art at the University of East London and is currently studying for an MA in printmaking at the Royal College of Art.

Victoria Topping – Utopia and Metamorphis

Utopia by Victoria Topping

Victoria Topping is an artist and illustrator who draws influences from everything from high camp disco sleeves to 1950s technical drawing manuals, from exotic flora and fauna to traditional folk art.

Her vibrant, floral Christmas wrapping paper will make your presents stand out under the christmas tree.

Andrew Millar – Forever Be

Forever Be by Andrew Millar

Andrew Millar has likened his artistic approach to the act of weaving a tapestry, weaving together different strands of nature which inspire him. The result is this beautiful Forever Be design, reflecting both stillness and rhythm. Millar has had solo exhibitions in Paris, Berlin, Barcelona and New York, and was recently featured in a solo exhibition, Hidden Visions at Saatchi Gallery.

David Speed – Apple

David Speed’s Apple design

Throughout the history of art, artists have depicted apples. But they’re forgotten by modern creators, David Speed said.

“In folklore [apples] signified death and love, in Celtic traditions apples grew in the underworld and were food for the dead. In Norse mythology apples grant eternal youth,” he explained.

“These days, however I feel that the humble apple is taken for granted. I like working with objects that are easily forgotten or disposable and attempting to make them something more beautiful.”

Speed’s arresting “Apple” design attempts to rectify this wrong. A multi-disciplinary artist whose current focus is neon painting, he’s passionate about the innate creativity we all share.

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“The act of making something that didn’t exist before, having an idea in your head and getting it out, is I think, an essential act of humanity,” he said.

But the cost of living crisis is stifling potential creativity, Speed warns, adding: “How can we expect to cultivate the next Stormzy, Tracy Emin or Marcus Rashford from a generation of kids who are just worried about where their next meal is coming from?”

To check out all the designs, visit the Big Issue shop. All proceeds go to supporting Big Issue Group’s work with some of the most marginalised people in the country.

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