'A little love poured into the process': A P.E.I. artist crafts one-of-a kind Christmas cards

A P.E.I. high school teacher has turned his comic drawings into a money-making pastime just in time for the holiday season. Liam McKenna crafts one-of-a kind Christmas cards.

Full-time teacher, part-time comic artist Liam McKenna creates caricatures for Christmas

Liam McKenna from Charlottetown creates his one-of-a-kind comic Christmas cards by blending separate family photos into an imaginary scene. (Pat Martel/CBC)

As if the world needs more Christmas cards. 

Well, P.E.I. school teacher and artist Liam McKenna thinks it does.

But you won't find McKenna's Christmas cards on store shelves anywhere.

'I've got a style that I think is all my own,' says McKenna. His unique Christmas cards start at $75. (Pat Martel/CBC)

Just as every snowflake is different, so is every one of McKenna's personalized Christmas cards, and he's proud of that fact.

"I've got a style that I think is all my own," McKenna said. "It's a thoughtful gift. It's one that takes time to put together and there's a little love poured into the process."

Unique creations

What makes McKenna's holiday cards so different is that he doesn't just copy a photo, but starts drawing his comic Christmas cards from scratch.

For example, for the commission he's working on now, McKenna asked the family to send him separate photos of the mom, the dad, their little boy and even the family's terrier.

McKenna's love of drawing comics has now turned his hobby into a little sideline business. (Pat Martel/CBC)

And then with pen on mouse pad and computer monitor in front of him, McKenna's imagination went to work.

'A bit of humour'

He decided to draw the mom and dad sitting on the front step of their new home, with their son standing behind them.

"It was their first home, so I really wanted to make that a large part of the picture," McKenna said. He decided to place the little dog off to the side, with a frown on its face.

"I also wanted to convey the closeness of the family, so putting them all together with their little pup down there, cranky looking and offsetting the warmth of the family here, I thought was a bit of humour."

'It was their first home, so I really wanted to make that a large part of the picture,' says McKenna one of his most recent works. (Pat Martel/CBC)

McKenna was pleased the family liked the finished result. "It communicates everything they had asked for in the commission — their family, their closeness and their first home. I think it came together nicely and happy they felt the same way."

Although he's been drawing all his life, McKenna only recently started getting paid for his work. Last month, he participated in something called The Inktober Initiative where artists have to draw a picture every day, for 31 days. 

'Why not offer some Christmas art?'

His work drew quite a bit of interest and he sold a few drawings, so when Inktober ended McKenna shifted focus.

"It's something I'm doing everyday and I thought, 'Well, the seasonal shift, why not offer some Christmas art?'"

McKenna is almost booked for the holiday season, and his schedule is filling up quickly. The cost for a one-of-a-kind Christmas card starts at $75. 

"I really try to capture the spirit of what it is we're trying to convey," he said. 

"Which in the Christmas season of course is love and giving, warmth. If you can give somebody a gift that contains those elements, then you're really giving the gift that Christmas is all about."


Pat Martel has worked with CBC P.E.I. for three decades, mostly with Island Morning where he was a writer-broadcaster and producer. He joined the web team recently to share his passion for great video. Pat also runs an adult coed soccer league in Stratford. He retired in Oct. 2019.