I've been getting a lot of questions regarding the whole process of designing, illustrating, printing, and selling. So basically, how does it start on my desk and end up in the shop?
1. Inspiration, inspiration, inspiration
I guess it really starts in my head. Inspiration comes from many places. While the content is often derived from Scripture or the occasion (Christmas, Valentine's Day etc.), the design is a whole different game. I have a habit of going through Instagram in bed before falling asleep, and whenever I see flower arrangements or colors I love, I take a screen shot for reference. I never paint exactly what I see, but the types of flowers and leaves as well as their colors give me a good idea of what I want. If not from Instagram, ideas come sometimes from books, magazines, or even just outside while I walk around.
2. Scribbling & Sketching
I then make thumbnails of different layouts and designs. I list groups of colors I feel good about, ones that I can envision looking rad together. For the Mini Love Prints, I used a lot of pink and orange and red for the first time...it is Valentine's Day soon after all! Then I start sketching for the final draft.
3. Watercolor / Gouache
While watercolor is subtle, transparent, and elegant, gouache can be as bold and opaque as I want. For the "You Are Loved" print, I used watercolor, and gouache for the "Dear Love" print. Can you tell the difference? After the paintings are done, I scan them and open them up in Photoshop.
4. Digital Editing
Ideally, there wouldn't be too much to edit digitally. The changes are usually to correct the colors to make them look as close to the original as possible. For the "You Are Loved" print, the background was supposed to be light pink when I painted it, but that totally disappeared after it dried. So I saved that color digitally. Cropping also happens at this stage.
Finally, we can print these bad boys. I print them from Photoshop, because it is the best way. I have a huge commercial grade Epson printer, which helps me control the quality of the prints. You need a good printer and good paper.
Here is the most tedious job, which my personal elf aka husband aka Elias took on so graciously. We have an enormous paper cutter, with which Elias, I mean my elf, cuts as necessary. I initially claimed I couldn't trust anyone else with this job, because you really need a trained eye to cut just before the crop marks but not too much before. The elf argued that he had agile fingers of a guitarist, and precise eyes of an engineer. So I've taken him on, and so far he has proven himself quite useful indeed.
I only want to show you the best representation of the products, so naturally, I need a tripod and a professional camera. I am not the best photographer, so I recently got some tips from a photographer/film maker friend of mine. To set the stage, I gather everything I have that is relevant to the prints/cards that is pretty. For these Love Prints, I used all the truffles I got for Christmas, a couple of fake roses, and other little things. I then took many shots with many subtly different layouts...I take things out and put them back in and move this and tilt that. In the end, I pick one image that I'm happy with.
So there it is! There are times when I wish the process was quicker and shorter, but when you are running a one woman show in your home studio, you don't have much of a choice. But don't get me wrong, every step is precious and the outcome is so rewarding. And I very much enjoy spending time with myself in my home—most of the time. ;)