Taking a cue from customers who had been using their red holiday cups as a canvas, last December Starbucks invited customers to share their designs on Instagram, receiving more than 1,200 individual submissions from 13 countries.
Ultimately, 13 designs from six countries were chosen to be featured on Starbucks red cups for the 2016 holiday season. The artists behind the work hail from all over the world – a college student studying in Germany, a hair stylist near Philadelphia, an aspiring artist in New York. Their inspiration came from nature and seasonal traditions. Some are bold and graphic while others evoke the feeling of an old-fashioned storybook. Together the collection expresses the shared spirit of the season.
When Starbucks told the artists their work would be featured on this year's red cups, emotions ranged from shock to pure joy. “You just made my life,” said one.
Learn more about the customers and the inspirations behind the 2016 Starbucks holiday cup designs:
Birds & Flowers
Florencia: Bandung, Indonesia
Florencia’s nature-inspired design depicts a bird in a field of magnolia flowers and berries. “The magnolia symbolizes friends and love and the hedge sparrow represents faith and creativity. I hope that my design inspires people to joyfully love life and be creative, even when faced with tough times.”
Maria Lauren: New York City, United States
New York-based aspiring artist Maria Lauren loves creating bold, graphic patterns. “I was looking around my home for inspiration and when I looked at my tree I thought about how beautiful the lights were,” she said.
Chloe: Plainfield, Illinois, United States
Chloe, a nurse aide in a Chicago suburb, created a wintery design using acrylic paint. “It is such a beautiful sight seeing the bare trees covered up in snow,” she said. “The first thing that comes to mind is home.”
Jennifer: Seattle, United States
Jennifer, a professional artist who has also illustrated several coloring books, wanted to create a holiday design that people could identify with. “My goal was to merge the whimsical candy cane elements with the botanical patterns in a cohesive, symmetrical design that would not only capture the spirit of the holiday season but also work with the red ombré, which is why I chose white ink. It was a great deal of fun to make, and I thank Starbucks for giving artists such a lovely canvas to work with.”
Anz Soza: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
When Anz Soza moved from her home in the Philippines to Dubai, she made a hobby of drawing on Starbucks cups, collecting more than 75 cup creations. When her husband brought home a red cup last holiday, she was excited to try her first holiday design, with hanging ornaments and feathers reminiscent of dreamcatchers. “I love the Christmas season so I was really inspired. To me, the color red symbolizes the celebration of love and life,” she said.
Samantha: Broomall, Pennsylvania, United States
Samantha is a hair stylist who was on maternity leave when she created her wintery design, which features the silhouette of a deer against an evergreen wreath and snowflakes. When Starbucks put out a call for cup designs, “My daughter was three weeks old and I was doodling during nap times,” she said. Now she’s looking forward to creating new holiday traditions with her daughter, who will soon be celebrating her first birthday.
Love and Joy
Anna: Toronto, Canada
Santa’s sleigh and reindeer take flight above a snow-covered village in this design from Anna, who lives in the heart of Toronto – one of Canada's most vibrant cities known for its rich cultural heritage. Born in the Soviet Union, Anna was trained in petrykivka, an ancient Ukrainian decorative folk art, which influenced her design’s intricate line work and details.
Christina: Bakersfield, California, United States
A student of landscape architecture, Christina created a design that features the festive poinsettia plant. She is currently working on a public art installation in Bonn, Germany, and said, “Part of the job of a landscape architect is to connect people to the environment by creating a sense of place. I decided to evoke the Christmas spirit by creating a design with a plant that is symbolic of the season.”
Erica: Markham, Ontario, Canada
Erica, a recent paralegal graduate from Markham, Canada, was helping her sister recover from knee surgery when she decorated her holiday cup with playful swirls. “My sister was stuck on the couch for a month, so we spent a lot of time coloring together,” she said. “When I wanted to change it up, I switched to doodling on Starbucks cups!”
Alisa: St. Petersburg, Russia
For Alisa, inspiration for her design came while drinking a gingerbread latte. “The holiday mood made me try to draw on the Starbucks cup for the first time," she said. Her design features snowflakes and reindeer patterned after a cozy sweater.
Bronwyn: Moscow, Idaho, United States
A December hike along a favorite mountain trail was the inspiration for Bronwyn, a college student from Moscow, Idaho. “Everything was still and snow-covered. The contrast was beautiful – it was almost like a black and white photo all around us," she said. "The simplicity of the image transferred easily into a wintery design.”
Eun Joo: Daejeon, South Korea
For her whimsical design, Eun Joo depicted Santa’s sleigh on a starry night. Tiny snowmen adorn overlapping circles. “There are many people – like different patterns of overlapping circles – but everyone can have happy memories with a cup of coffee at Starbucks.”
Tracy: Los Angeles, United States
Tracy, a professional artist from Los Angeles, crafted a wreath that encircled the Starbucks logo – a design on Starbucks cold beverage cups. “I love the nature and the woods, so I decided to illustrate a wooden wreath with ornaments of various shapes and patterns. Topping it all off is some snow, a bow and a dash of holiday spirit."