Hello friend!! I wanted to talk about all of the labor and love that went into the invitation for my 2022 art show, Menagerie! This piece was a small milestone for me, and I loved all of the ups and downs that went into it’s creation. Hope you enjoy reviewing what was such a fun (and stressful!) project for me. 🙂
Frankly, I wanted to mail invitations for my open house art show, Menagerie. I hoped old-school, analog invitation would provide a special touchpoint to any invitees. While I had also invited folks online, I noticed that receiving a professional invitation in the mail carries a bit more weight.
The invitation also had to establish the mood and vibe of the event. It needed to reflect the playfulness of the collection without being silly or childish.
Step 1: Inspiration
Before jumping into the process, I need to confess that the concept did not come easily. I had struggled to come up with a concept for months, and my personal deadline for ordering invitations had long passed.
After lots of failed illustrations and desperately wringing my hands, I turned to Pinterest for inspiration. While browsing, I fell in love with a gallery illustrations of people looking at art!
Once I had settled on a concept, I decided to use some of my own characters and work for the details. Digging through my archive, I found this fox character from my co-creation series.
Doesn’t he look like he’d be right at home in a gallery??
I also wanted the characters to be looking at a personal piece of art that guests would be able to spot in the show.
While this didn’t quite end up happening (I couldn’t quite finalize the painting in time), I referenced this piece from my sketchbook!
Step 2: Sketch
My original sketchbook concepts only show the fox character. But quickly, I determined he needed a friend.
After all, many people would be at this show, and most would bring someone with them as well! I wanted this piece–and the event–to feel more communal than personal.
After another round of sketching, I added the rabbit character. The bunny was subtly inspired by another painting in the show, and I referenced my own wardrobe for their wardrobe, hah!
Step 3: Painting
Once I felt content with the sketch, I jumped right into the painting because needed to order an mail the invites ASAP!
I scanned my favorite sketch and digitally made a few small modifications for composition. From there, I transferred the sketch to hot press paper and got to work!
Most of my watercolor paintings use the same strategy. I start with a light wash of base colors (usually a warm yellow or beige) in an attempt to create some color unity.
Slowly, I add more saturated colors and then eventually switch to colored pencil. I tend to add detail in no specific order. In this instance, I added line art much sooner than I would recommend. Thankfully, it worked out!
You can also see I avoid any saturated blacks as a personal preference. Instead, I use analogous and secondary colors for the line marks.
My favorite risky detail was the dry-brushed background. I love the texture and energy you can find in those loose brushstrokes. I plan to incorporate this technique into more of my work!
I also decided to add some hand-lettering to the final piece. While it looked fine, I wanted to tweak it for the final invitation. So I wrote a bunch of different versions of “Menagerie,” scanned it, and cobbling the final type together in photoshop.
I also spent some time designing some elements for the back of the invitation! The filigree and bunny portrait went on the backside of the invitation as well as on the RSVP page for the show.
After scanning all of the pieces, I cleaned up the illustrations in Photoshop. For the final layout, I used InDesign.
Step 4: Final
After many rounds of review, I ordered my invitations through MOO. Definitely pricier than an alternative printer, but you can’t beat the quality.
Believe me, you could hear my audible sigh of relief when the invitations arrived, and the print job was PERFECT.
And that’s it! After my order came in, I shipped them out to my invitation list.
I also decided to frame and feature inspiration, sketchbook, and final pieces over the drink bar at the show. After so much work went into them, it felt like they deserved a small shrine, haha.
I purchase most of my art supplies from my local art store, Curio! If you have a local art supply shop close by, make sure you shop there first! Sometimes they can also special order art supplies for you.
- Legion Stonehenge Aqua Watercolor Pad (Hot Press) — Typically, I use cold press paper, but lately, I’ve really enjoyed the marks I can make on hot press.
- Kuretake Gansai Tambi Watercolors — These are somewhere between western watercolors and gouache. I love how I can apply them as a wash or apply them thick for a saturated look.
- Arteza Watercolor Pencils — These were a gift from a friend! Most of my favorite colors are worn down to nibs. I really like this set if you want to test add these to your own process.
- MOO Medium Postcards – I ordered medium (5×7) postcards with their Super (18pt) paper. I think ordering the higher quality was definitely the right call! If you use my referral link, you can get 25% off your first purchase. (and I get $20 in credit. Yay!)
If you have any more questions about the process, please leave a comment! I would love to hear what you found interested and what you’d like to read more about.