The great thing about my job is that there is so much variety. On a given day I can arrive at the office and sit down at my desk (with a good cup o’ joe in my hand) and I could be doing any one of about 100 things. Often my day starts with sorting through emails and contacting clients about projects, but if the day is going to be a good one I get to move on to a creative project that exercises my design muscles. If it’s going to be a really good day then I get to sink my teeth into something that is creative and corporate and really allows me to explore a style. This is project is one of those.
I have known Will and Shilo for years, individually, and when it came time to get hitched, they wanted something unique. They are both unique people who don’t take themselves too seriously, and they wanted that to be reflected in their invitations.
Shilo is a top-notch, published and successful scrapbooker (is that the correct term? scrapbook artist, scrapbookie…) so she has a penchant for the visual. Like all brides-to-be, she had very little time on hand for her own work. Enter bluebeetle…
They wanted something fun, classic, and easy to mail. I suggested this size and format because it fits easily in a standard envelope, is relatively inexpensive to print, and can be done quickly through a local printer. Shilo sent me a number of pictures of styles that she likes from other artists. I put them together into a moodboard, which is something I’ve been doing more and more of lately with some great results. A mood board makes it easy for a client or another designer to get a visual snapshot for what you are trying to achieve. Too often we designers hear works like clean, modern, fresh, gritty which may conjure a picture, but it is likely a different one for everyone involved. Additionally, there is only so many times you can create something ‘gritty’ or ‘clean’ before you run out of new ways to do that. Creating a mood board is like a sketch for feel, colour palette, texture and tone. When I first started creating mood boards, I was worried that I would end up copying another design, but the reality was that the opposite happened. Because I was accumulating all kinds of ideas in one place, and as you arrange them what happens is the ideas kind of synthesize into a new idea that is suggested by the arrangement or feel of the snippets I’ve collected. I’ve recently signed up to a free online service called ImgSpark that allows me to upload, collect, tag and sort images from the web into libraries and mood boards, which solves a long-term frustration I’ve had about losing inspirational images. Bookmarking just doesn’t work for me. I mean, who ever goes into their bookmark library looking for a lost image?
From the mood board, I arranged the content. I wanted most everything to be clearly on the front for two reasons:
- People don’t read much anymore (myself included). The more succinct you can be with print media the better. Give icons and reminders. Make it interesting and creative, but for God’s sake don’t make it long.
- I wanted a nice, expansive map on the back since the shindig was a few miles out of town. It didn’t need to be to scale, just relatively proportional.
As I worked on the design, a few things emerged. I wanted to go with a simple two colour layout. I picked a typographer’s red for the main text for emphasis, and to give it a more contemporary feel, picked a light blue-grey for the background. I tried to use some traditional justified typography for the main text, emphasizing the bits that seemed most important (love, for instance) and adding subtle twists by varying typeface and size. As the information got more detailed towards the bottom, I decided to scan some letterpress cuts and trace them in Adobe Illustrator. In the latest version of Illustrator (CS4) the live trace tool is extremely powerful and once I had the cuts printed and scanned, tracing them took very little time. These icons give people an idea what they are going to be reading before they even get to the small print. I had to create the guitar from scratch but the others came off my own letterpress.
To tie them all together, I created a white-bordered rectangle in the background with my second colour. I gave this some texture to add interest and help it hearken to the period, which ironically is a very modern thing to do (think distressed jeans or pre-aged guitars). On the back I tried to pull the vintage type into a 50′s aesthetic without losing the overall effect buy using some cuts that are from that era: land yachts and holiday trailers. The ‘clients’ approved the thing more or less without changes, and off it went to the printers.
This last weekend the happy couple got hitched up on the hill, and I, as well as a couple hundred others were in attendance so I have to consider the design work a success. My congrats to Will & Shilo, and if anyone out there is also looking for some unique wedding invitations, you know who to ask.