I love to illustrate when the client is open to a final product truly based on my work and style--as opposed to the client complimenting me on my work/portfolio and then asking me to do a piece that resembles my work not at all :)
In this case, a Holiday card was the desired outcome, and I sketched a few ideas, got the go-ahead on one, and did the illustration. Straightforward, fun, and everyone is happy!
This is the complete card; the final artwork. (The present is the detail which I'd previously posted.) It contains a bunch of my favorite things: A bird, anthropomorphism, Victoriana, checkerboard pattern, watercolor, pen and ink, and the color green. Also have lately been peculiarly fascinated with snow in artworks.
As far as influence, I know Tenniel's version of the Mad Hatter permanently scrambles around in my unconscious mind, jabbing away at my creative nerve. He's Victorian, wears a hat, has checkerboard clothing, and is a Perfect Image.
Here is Tenniel's Perfect Image. Seems to me this should be in the Art History surveys, right there with the Mona Lisa. Great illustration is great art--there's no difference. Do you agree?