I was recently commissioned to design a Bat-Mitzvah invitation for a terrific girl named Julia. I’m excited about this project because the theme of the big event is…BOOKS! As in, READING! How great is that?
The project is still in progress but I thought it would be fun to show you the “behind the scenes”. Most people just see the end product and then ask me, “How did you do that?” There’s never a one-word answer, of course, and it usually takes weeks of work. So here’s a sneak peak into how a new invitation design gets put together.
First I start with sketching. I don’t worry about the details, I just try to get a general feel for the layout of the piece. I then share the sketches with the family to get their feedback. I present a maximum of 4 layout options, sometimes less. If it’s more than four, I find everyone starts to over-analyze and it’s harder to make gut decisions. It’s important to keep the ideas fluid at this point.
Even though the sketches below look simple and quick, there’s a lot of brainstorming that happens before pencil touches paper. Usually I can “see” concepts in my mind, and then when I feel I have some ideas that might work, I sketch them out. Years of art training has taught me this approach. Most of the time, I know the end result will be a combination of the initial sketches. The illustrated details and the medium I choose will bring lots of life and magic to the piece. But that comes later.
In this case, Julia was deciding between sketch 1 and 2. My professional opinion was to go with #1. I could just tell it was going to be a classic, simple, unique design in the end. My plan was to illustrate the pile of books by hand and then paint them in water color or gauche. I knew the colors and texture of the paint would be really beautiful. I was also planning to experiment with hand-lettering her name. That makes a piece even more special and unique.
Julia was happy with my encouragement to go with design #1. So the next step for me was to spend time sketching book illustrations and the font style for her name. I imagined the rest of the text on the invitation would be a serif font, perhaps something like a typewriter or classic book font. It seemed fitting, therefore, to have her name carry most of the flourish.
I don’t commit to one style of lettering too soon. I take the pressure off by just drawing, and redrawing the letters, imagining how they will live on the page.
Curvy letters, scripted letters, block letters. Anything’s possible!
I like the look of hand-drawn so I probably will not be vectoring the book illustrations. That technique would mean scanning the drawing, and then “redrawing” it on the computer using digital lines. But in this case, the subtle texture of the pencil and the beauty of real paint feels more appropriate for a “book theme” party. I think the word I’m looking for is, authenticity.
This project is still in progress, so I’ll update you soon on the next steps!
P.S. I recently designed a logo and character design for another Bat-Mitzvah event, which you can check out here.