Julian Opie: my magic-eye Christmas wrapping paper

Some of Britain's leading artists have designed Christmas wrapping paper especially for the Guardian. We're kicking off with paper featuring Julian Opie's signature figures, which the artist introduces here

Download and print Julian Opie's wrapping paper

You often see children depicted in art from the past, less so these days. I like drawing them and notice the particular ways they move and are proportioned. My son Paul, then four, his schoolmate Bibi, six in these images, and a colleague's nine-month-old baby, Dino, were drawn some 30 to 40 times to create animated paintings of moving figures. I have drawn many people walking but Paul was the first running work I made – originally as a proposal for an Olympics project I did not win. I had proposed a whole piazza of different children running on double-sided LED screens.

Dino was then drawn for a giant outdoor project in Calgary, Canada; he would have crawled under a bridge. That project morphed into a 5m-high LED tower, which will go up early next year but without any babies. I am now working on a project for the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in London. The plan was to use baby Dino in the nursery; this then expanded to include Paul in the corridors, so I needed a girl to accompany him. Bibi and her parents let me film her on my studio walking machine. I picked her because she has nice straight hair that moves in a way that's great to draw.

I often make multiple works such as mugs and fridge magnets. I prefer to make my own rather than leave museum shops to come up with rather random designs. A CD cover can be as good a place for art as a museum wall. When the Guardian asked for a wrapping paper design, I thought children would be the best subject matter. I put the drawings together in a way that was inspired by ancient Greek friezes, pots and traditional wrapping paper. Placed in a row, the repeated figures suggest movement; they could be wrapping around the Parthenon or your Christmas present. If you stare at it long enough, it can also become a magic-eye image.

The GuardianTramp

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