Some of my favourite words to hear are "can you design something specially for me?" The answer will almost certainly be YES!
Don't get me wrong, I love designing my range items, but there is just something special about working closely with someone to realise their dream, bouncing ideas back and forth and trying out new things. I really think the best ideas come out like this and help to enrich my work as I am pushed towards things I would not have considered on my own.
So if you are thinking about commissioning something but are really not sure how to go about it, what can you do? Firstly, don't worry too much, ask the question and you will be guided through the rest. Some people know exactly what they want and provide all sorts of reference material for me, and others initially provide very little except for the type of item they want, and the design grows through discussion.
I thought I would share with you 3 projects we have worked on recently which were all briefed entirely differently.
The 10th Anniversary Present
When Heather contacted me, she had a very clear idea of what she wanted, a piece of wall art to represent the 10 years her sister and brother in law had spent together. Being a graphic designer herself, Heather provided an extremely clear brief, with a story board and description of what everything meant to her sister and brother in law.
This was a great challenge for me, as my company name suggests, I am naturally drawn to the natural world in my work so had to adapt my style to fit with man made structures, which with a little bit of thought I achieved. I started by working on all the individual shapes which I sent to Heather for approval, and then went on to structure and colour.
Below are the stages of approval I sent through to Heather. Once we were happy with the design I set about cutting it and lining it with coloured paper, my preference for this is to use artists ingres paper as I love the texture. Finally I mounted it on to board, raising it off the background for depth.
The Customised Table Plan
When Andrea got in touch she simply asked if I would customise our existing Tree of Hearts table plan design in navy with coloured leaves instead of rectangular plan cards. At first I was unsure of how it would work, the leaf shape has a lot of dead space top and bottom where you cannot fit names in comfortably. I eventually worked out that I need to scale everything up but I still was not sure.
My eureka moment came when Andrea sent me a picture of the cake design she was having, decorated with a black tree and multi-coloured leaves. I suggest we went for a black tree on a cream background and used the colours from the cake for the leaves, I tried solid colour leaves and eventually settled on just the outer edge in colour. The finishing touches were adding some simple white flowers to the pegs and scattering hearts between the branches.
Andrea liked the table plan so much, she went on to ask if I could make matching table numbers and menus.
The theme for the tables was rustic, hessian chair covers, hessian runners, little log place cards, cake on top of a log and blue and white jam jars with blue and white flowers. I instantly thought of leaf shaped numbers on sticks to go in the jam jars, mirroring the colours from the table plan. Cut numbers in black with a hessian backing.
Fot the menu, I felt our standard menu that matches the tree design wasn't right for this table setting. We settled for a folding menu and I suggested using bakers twine. For the cover I revisited an idea from the Vintage Rose Bowl range that I didn't go forward with, after a few tweaks it worked perfectly.
The New Baby Picture
This was a bespoke commission for our good friend Stella from Salt Design. We have collaborated on projects many times and work in a very informal way batting ideas to and fro. The briefing for this happened over text and went a little like this - S: "have you got time to make me a new baby girl picture?" me: "yes what you you want?" S: Will look at your gallery" Me: "How about butterflies with cherry blossom? ... or a bee? Bee, honey, Hunneysett!" S: "Oh yes good thinking!" me: "Rough sketch, Sofia font I think" S "pretty but can we have more bees and names like on squirrels design?" Me: "New sketch, I've added bunnies too, Hunneybunnysett!"
As it always does when I work with Stella, the design came together really quickly. I used some photos I had taken of a cherry tree as inspiration. Stella wanted 3D flowers, so I had a bit of a play and came up with some lovely 3D blossom heads and a fluttering bee.. Colour-wise, we went for something cheerful and natural looking using a mix of mat and metallic card, which suited the recipients taste far more than a traditional 'pink for a girl' look.
So finally I hear you ask, but how much does it cost? Well that depends on what you want. If I am adapting something existing as I did for Andrea then generally there is no extra charge for artwork unless I am making extensive changes. I also have a back catalogue of unseen designs so even if you don't see anything on the website it really is worth asking me.
Prices for completely bespoke artwork are between £100 - £300. If you are ordering wedding stationery the design fee is deducted from the final bill when you place the order. If you are commissioning a piece of wall art I recommend going as large as you dare as over half the cost will be the time it takes to design the artwork so you get better value for money.
And finally don't be afraid to ask, I am always happy to chat.