My co-writer, Troy novelist Jack Casey, and I hired Ben Karis-Nix to hand illustrate a promotional image for our community theatrical event, "The Trial Before Christmas."
Our home-grown holiday "mock trial" was a surprise hit in 2013 that garnered an impressive amount of national media attention. Therefore, in 2014, we decided that the project deserved a promotional image and line of merchandise worthy of its quality and to help us take the project to "the next level."
Ben Karis-Nix delivered -- big time -- capturing all the right elements of what makes this production special and worthy of national attention, while conveying our heart-felt, home-grown, small American city values.
In short, Ben nailed it on the first try.
"The Trial Before Christmas" is a full-blown, holiday courthouse trial to determine who really wrote 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, a beloved holiday poem that was first published anonymously in the Troy Sentinel newspaper in 1823. For nearly two centuries, two "Old New York" families have claimed that their ancestor -- either Clement Clarke Moore, or Maj. Henry Livingston Jr. -- is the true author of those magic holiday verses. Our trial is held in a real courthouse, with real trial attorneys, real court officials, a real judge, real expert witnesses, real descendants from both families, Christmas ghosts, a jury and many other spectacles.
Ben's beautiful hand illustration features the two historical authors -- Livingston and Moore -- seated at their writing desks resting in the scales of justice. Looming over them is the image of Santa Claus, in a style reminiscent of Thomas Nasts famous illustrations of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. The city skyline includes subtle references to Troy NY -- "Santa's Hometown."
Ben created multiple variations of this image for use on a promotional poster, a holiday greeting card, and an artist's silk-screened print. These were eagerly purchased by many seeking a wonderful keepsake and I have no doubt they will be cherished for many years.
I cannot speak highly enough of Ben's work. He is a true artisan, whose work is timeless.
Duncan Crary, Author
(Creator of The Trial Before Christmas)