custom

Building the Booth {Surtex 2015}

One of the challenges of sharing a Surtex booth with other artists is coming to a consensus on big decisions. While prepping for this year's show, the booth design was probably the toughest decision to navigate. Don't get me wrong - the process was still fairly smooth and cordial - but we did have many, many conversations in order to get to the final design.

Part of the challenge was designing a booth that would play to ALL of our strengths. Jill and I have a more character-based approach, while tammie is the queen of geo and floral patterns.  We needed to figure out a way to showcase all of our skills in a cohesive manner. Since we had secured a corner booth, we'd have two main walls - so we decided to make one wall pattern-focused and the other wall character-focused. 

We also wanted our booth to look different from the rest of the booths. Last year when I walked the show I remember thinking that after a certain point, the booths started homogenizing even though the individual styles were different. Much of this had to do with utilizing the standard vertical banners to decorate. Don't get me wrong - I totally understand why that is such a popular approach - the vertical wall panels lend themselves perfectly to the banners. But how could we make our booth stand out among the sea of other booths?

The Happy Happy Surtex booth before. There is so much potential!
Once we agreed that we would have a character wall and a pattern wall, we needed to figure out a booth theme. Our theme for 2015 was Rain. As in, "raining happiness". We also worked within a loose color palette of red, pink, light blue and yellow. A common theme and color scheme would start to pull everything together. The 1st wall would have our characters walking along wearing rain slickers and carrying umbrellas, while the 2nd wall would be raining patterns - large raindrops filled with our patterns.

In lieu of the aforementioned vertical banners, we chose to get large, wall-sized banners that would cover all of the framework of the wall panels (see above). Those large banners, though incredibly unwieldy, looked fantastic once mounted - they eliminated all unnecessary seams and gave us a nice, clean canvas to apply the next portion of our booth design. We were a little worried about the weight and how we would hang them - but tammie had used some 3M velcro strips the year before with success, so we decided to use them again and they worked GREAT!

tammie smoothing down the corners of our ginormous banners during setup.
Admittedly, the walls don't look like much yet. We really liked the idea of getting our characters and raindrops printed on foamcore. This way we could attach them to the background banners with some flexibility and the added dimension would add some interest to our booth design. Again, we used those 3M velcro strips for hanging. Not one piece fell down!

One downfall of getting giant characters printed on foamcore and shipped across the country was the potential for damage. When tammie received the initial shipment, there were a few bumps and bruises:

Poor kitty and fox. (Photos by tammie)

Thankfully we had them shipped early enough that we had time to get them re-printed and re-shipped - this time with a lot more padding. Crisis diverted!

We had talked about doing some sort of raindrop garland to string across the booth. Jill found some super cool translucent colored vinyl that would add some funky texture and color. We ended up cutting and assembling the raindrops on the fly during setup:

Look at those colors!
We also got some props made out of foamcore to encourage people to stop by our "Selfie Station", take some photos and have some fun. Tammie took some quick practice selfies to whet our curiosity a couple weeks before the show:

tammie perfecting her selfie with our custom props. (photos by tammie)

Jill had the brilliant idea of handing out squirt guns swag to go along with our rainy theme. She created custom header cards with her awesome lettering which we stapled onto the bags back at our hotel. Get drenched in happiness!

A big pile o' happiness soakers. (no, they're not guns!)

As you can see, we had a lot of different ideas and pieces which all needed to come together. Since we are located all over the country, all of our conversations happened over Google Chat, email, FB or text. (thank goodness for technology!) I'll be honest - there was a tiny part of me that was a little nervous that it would look horrific once the booth was set up. I mean, we didn't even mock it up beforehand! :-O

But by the end of setup, our booth transformed into this:

Our booth after a long afternoon of setup. Now all we need is carpet!

Wowza! That's a big difference! As you can see, we had a wall for prancing characters, a wall for raining clouds, and that happy happy wall on the far left? That was the backdrop for our Selfie Station. Since there were three of us, we elected to have a tall table and a short table to help with the flow of traffic. The swag and promos ended up on the tall table for easy access, and the short table contained our portfolio books. The cute IKEA chairs allowed our guests to peruse our books and chat in a comfortable way. 

We were thrilled with how it turned out. Yes, it is bold and loud and colorful. But it reflects who we are as artists - and it was almost impossible to not look (or smile) when walking by. That was our goal - to spread happy-happiness!

Stay tuned for an in-depth look at our booth during the show. For all of my other Surtex-related posts, check them out here, here and here.

Until next time,

Promo Mailers Part 2 {Surtex 2015}

ONLY TEN DAYS UNTIL SURTEX 2015!


Yup. Ten days. And so much to do. But I have to say - after the stress of the last month, I'm definitely more chill than I was, despite the pile of work and lack of time. I don't want to go into the show totally exhausted, so I'm trying to get to bed at a decent hour (you know - 6 hours of sleep as opposed to 4 hours!) and I think that is helping to clear my head a bit. Ask me in five days if I'm still playing it cool! 

I wanted to finish my series on the promo mailers I sent out two weeks ago. After the flags were all sewed and ready to go I realized I needed to mount them to something to keep them flat in their envelopes. I got some backing board, cut it to fit and stamped them with my Emily Balsley Illustration stamp to make them even more official. Here they are, drying:



It may be hard to see in the photo, but I also designed a large rubber stamp for addressing the front of the envelopes. I love how it turned out, but it wasn't the easiest to print - the coverage wasn't as solid as I hoped and that big blank space was next to impossible to keep clean. I actually had to put a little piece of paper there to block the ink for every print. It was a pain, but it was still worth it. They're super fun!



And here are the flags on their boards. I secured them with cute washi tape.



I had also ordered some Surtex postcards, stickers and new business cards, so I stuffed the envelopes with those as well. The back of the postcard has a whimsical "nice to meet you" design.



Each mailer contained a flag on backing board, a hand-written note, a postcard, stickers and business card. I was relieved that the stuffed envelopes still fit through the sorter at the post office - that saved me a bit of $$ for shipping!


I'll be honest - I was a bit nervous mailing these out. There was so much love put into these mailers, I couldn't help but feel a little vulnerable! But that's okay. I want people to know who I am as an artist and I think these packages were the perfect representation of me and my work. And maybe...just maybe...I'll get a job or two from it!

If you missed Part 1 of my Surtex promo mailers, you can find it here.

'Til next time,

Promo Mailers Part 1 {Surtex 2015}

I can't believe there are only 17 more days until Surtex. I am SUPER excited, yet I can't wait for it to be over. I'm sure Stephen would agree with that, too, since that is ALL I talk about lately! 


The last few weeks have been absolutely insane with preparations. Even though I didn't have a lot of new art at the time, we needed to start thinking about the booth design. Which meant ordering banners. But of course, I don't want to put a lot of old work on the banners, right? So not only were we designing our booth, I was making new art at the same time. It was kind of a chicken-and-egg situation. I-need-art-for-the-banners-but-the-art-needs-to-be-created-before-I-can-put-the-art-on-the-banners. Ya know? Whew! So needless to say, there were a lot of almost-sleepless nights and sacrificed weekends while I pushed through. Once everything was ordered, a huge weight was lifted off me and I could breathe a bit. 

But just a bit.

Then I had to start thinking about promos. Originally, I wasn't planning on doing much promotion so I could focus on making new art. But then I thought, I am investing a lot of time, effort and money on this show, so it would be pretty unfortunate if no one even knew I was there! I've never done any kind of physical promotion, so I wanted to get it right. Lots of people do postcards, which are great - but I still think it's pretty easy to toss them in the wastebasket or lose them in a pile of papers. I needed something more memorable that an Art Director wouldn't want to throw away. Maybe they'd even pin it to their wall.

My answer? Felt pennant flags! I know they're nothing new - but they're right up my alley. They're throwback (vintage!), involve felt (my favorite material!) and they could be screen printed (my favorite printing method!). Plus if I really got my act together I could incorporate some of my newly-designed fabric as the binding. 

I was working on some Super Girl illustrations at the time, so I thought that theme would be fitting. A local screen printer, Screen Door Studio did the printing on some yummy colored felt. I scaled my colored pencil floral designs down to be proportionate to the flags and got some Spoonflower fabric printed. My friend Michelle saved me several hours by cutting, pressing and sewing the binding. And all of a sudden, I had a stack of amazing custom felt pennant flags!!


Ahhh. They make me so happy! I think they are a perfect representation of me. 

I'll be back soon with the rest of my Surtex promo plan.
Later!


New Work {Custom Portraits}

Over the last few months I have had the opportunity to do some more custom family portraits, which I always enjoy. A couple of these were even used as holiday cards - what a fun way to spread season's greetings!


A custom illustrated family portrait is a great way to capture your family's personalities and interests without the potential for cranky kids, closed eyes and bad weather. If you're interested in a portrait, you can check out my Etsy listings for more information. 

Have an awesome day!

Wedding Invitations {Laurie + Michele}

One thing I love about designing wedding invitations is the challenge of creating something that showcases who the couple is. Everybody is different - and on their wedding day, it is especially important to create a one-of-a-kind piece that represents them at this special time.

Laurie and Michele are from Florida and were celebrating their love with a beach wedding. Though the beach was an integral part of their celebration, they didn't necessarily want their invitations to exhibit the typical beach-y imagery - nothing overly nautical and avoid an abundance of seashells and dolphins - we wanted to imply beach without being so literal. They were also looking for something classic with a touch of whimsy.

To start, I sent them a few different concepts:



After deciding on a variation of #2, it was time to start applying the concept to the rest of the pieces. Because we were going for a nice balance of classic and whimsical, we thought incorporating a more formal script, letterpress printing and pocket folder would cater to the more traditional, while the quirky characters, illustrated map and bright color scheme would be super fun.

It just so happened that I had just taken a class to learn formal calligraphy techniques, so these invitations were the perfect excuse to apply my new skills. Here is a sample of some of my writing:



My friend Kate of Flying Rabbit Press did the letterpress printing and was so helpful and patient with me as I learned how to set up these fairly complicated files. The suite consisted of five 3-color pieces, after all - that's 15 plates right there! Kate is a rockstar. She even sent me sneak peeks during the printing process which was awesome to see:


Photo courtesy of Flying Rabbit Press

And here we have the final invitation suite:



The main invitation was glued to the left panel of the pocket folder and the rest of the inserts stack in descending order when placed in the pocket. The printing is beautiful, and I am extremely happy with how they turned out. Thanks to Laurie and Michele for letting me do my thing! Yay!










Wedding Invitations {Brian + Meredith}

Brian and Meredith are a super fun couple that I met through mutual friends in the Madison cycling community. When I sat down with them regarding their wedding invitations, they were looking for a few things:
  • an organic, laid-back style
  • eco-friendly - limit the number of pieces 
  • incorporating bikes and the city
  • a fall wedding = a warm, autumnal color palette 
Meredith sent me this photo she took at their venue for inspiration:


With their great direction, I was able to pull together several concepts.


We went back and forth a few more times and eventually landed on the final layout:



Once we had the layout, I started painting! Here are a few progress shots.




After all the color flats were laid, I added the text, which was a font I created out of my handwriting. The invitations were printed at Think Ink & Design on French Speckletone - a recycled paper - and paired with grass green envelopes. The main invite and map are actually 1 piece of paper, printed double-sided, to be a bit more eco-friendly.


This was such a great suite to work on - made better by working with such a fun couple. Together, we created a pretty fantastic piece of art to celebrate their special day.


Wedding Invitations {Part 1}

Hello!

Well, I finally have a bit of a break from my client work, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to share some of the fun projects I've worked on the last several months. 

First up, wedding invitations! I have been getting a few more requests for custom illustrated invitations, which has been amazing and challenging. 

I'm going to start with two couples that chose to have their invitations screen printed:






Anna and Ryan got married at a 150-year old brewery by the river in downtown Rockford, Illinois. Inspired by the building's iron beams and timber posts, they wanted their invitations to have a classic, yet industrial feel. The black French Paper screen printed with white ink gave a nod to the chalkboard signage that welcomed their guests to their big day.

They wanted to keep their suite simple - with a custom monogram surrounded by laurel leaves and hand-drawn type. I got to draw that cool old brewery for the map and a cow, chicken and carrot for the food choices. They even ordered some custom stamps made to match. I heart rubber stamps!








Lisa and Mark are an active couple who can often be found running or riding their bikes. It was no surprise that they chose a nature conservancy as the setting for their outdoor wedding. This screen printed invitation suite showcases the picturesque stone wall and the canopy of trees, under which their ceremony took place.

Both wedding suites were screen printed locally at Screen Door Studio on French Paper.

Thanks for stopping by! I'll be back soon with another invitation suite.