Stabroek News Sunday
Artist creates Guyana-themed Christmas postcards
When artist Christina Izbasa began doing some sketches to distract herself earlier this year, she had no clue that she was embarking on a journey to use her skills to help Guyanese express themselves.
Izbasa, who is creator behind a set of Christmas postcards imbued with aspects of Guyanese culture, told Sunday Stabroek that she began sketching them in August as a way to distract herself from the challenges she was encountering while managing another project. At the time, she had no idea that it would become a money-making venture.
Among the illustrations featured in the set of cards she has produced is that of a donkey pulling a cart carrying Santa Claus with a big bag of presents in tow. Izbasa says she chose the donkey as a way of highlighting their hard work, which is often overlooked by many.
“I really wanted them [the cards] to showcase our culture in Guyana; something people here can relate to because I felt that our market was so overwhelmed with the western interpretation of Christmas with the snow and reindeers, and we don’t have that here so why not make it more relevant to us,” Izbasa added.
Other interesting illustrations include an enamel cup of coffee along with a slice of black cake, Santa Claus driving a truck to transport presents, decorated pine and palm trees and the artificial Christmas trees which are found in homes across Guyana.
Izbasa says while there were challenges getting the cards sold to businesses, the feedback from ordinary Guyanese has been tremendous.
“People love them. It was very surprising in the beginning, but they really appreciate that homey quality…the feel that the cards give them. I tried to make it into a fun interpretation of Christmas by adding a bit of culture to it,” she said.
Izbasa opted not to include messages or greetings in the cards as she wants people to use the space to express themselves to those they care about.
“I didn’t want to put anything else of myself unto the cards so it kind of forces people to say what they want, however brief or however long because what’s the sense in sending all this paper to someone and you’re only going to put from me to you or Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,” she noted.
With several cards already sold, Izbasa said the team is looking to slash the price from $800 this final week leading up to Christmas.
She noted that the card with the enamel cup of coffee along with the slice of black cake has been a favourite for customers, with them having to restock several times.
The printing of the cards was done locally. The idea, according to her, is to make it a truly Guyanese production.
Looking ahead, she has plans to sell cards online. In the meantime, they can be ordered via her Facebook and Instagram pages, under her name “Christina Izbasa”. Already, she is focusing on sketching cards for Valentine’s Day, the Chinese New Year and birthdays. She said illustrations can be custom made for those who wish to place their orders.
Despite graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts in 2010, Izbasa said she is only now using the skills to earn financially. She pursued the degree to sharpen the skills she discovered at a young age and realize her dream to
become an artist. “I had this dream of becoming a painter, but I’ve learnt that it doesn’t always work out the way you imagined. I think art is very under-appreciated in Guyana and it was very disarming at first and I guess artists lose hope after a while and they paint for leisure and not a career. The same thing happened to me. I ended up doing massage therapy instead. I did that for many years, until now,” she said.