Make Art That Sells: A lesson on finding the joy

This week saw the start of Lilla Roger’s Make Art That Sells Part B and we kicked of the second part of this course with Paper Goods and specifically Christmas Cards!

I’ve been looking forward to the start of this course since the end of Part A so I was excited to get stuck in this week! In the gap between the two I’ve been trying to push my work forward and having I re-read all my notes from Part A some of the big lessons were at the forefront of my mind as we kicked off week 1: icons, finding and sharing your joy, strong graphic read, make it pop! This week was all about paper goods, from journals and notepads to calendars and cards and is a market I love, both as a designer and a consumer!

We kicked off, as usual, with a mini exercise and this week’s was all about Christmas ornaments and candy! Although I create most of my final pieces as vectors you can’t beat a pen and paper so I always start here for the minis. It’s great for getting to know the shapes and textures and playing with ideas and composition, this stage is super important. It’s really easy at this stage to try and rush it and move on but it’s actually bags of fun – this is where you add the joy! I went slightly crazy and filled pages and pages with scribbly baubles, trees, sweets, lollies, star bursts and lots of flat texture and patterns. I scanned or photographed them and dragged them all into an Illustrator file to start the process of developing my icons.


Once I’d got all my sketches into the computer I started creating vector versions either by live tracing, redrawing or importing from my Inkling. I had so much fun with this, remembering ornaments from my childhood and playing with textures and layer effects to add depth and interest.This is where the lessons from Part A were really ringing in my ears! Decorating the house is one of my favourite parts of Christmas and I tried hard to show my joy! I also made an effort to add characters and ‘things with faces’ something I usually avoid. I developed a whole heap of icons and some background textures and started the layout process. The design is a kind of mosaic and balancing the composition in terms of design and colour was key. I also tried to pack it full of variety and each icon is different – some very different while others simply change colour, angle or orientation – hope this variety adds to the magical feel I was trying to create. The colours, however, were trickier to get right. Traditionally Christmas is very red and green and, as the card needed to look immediately Christmassy, I didn’t want to throw that out completely but I was keen to give it a fresh twist. So I made the red a bit softer and added quite a lot of blue to the green, making it almost turquoise. Teamed with a bright cyan blue and two neutrals – navy and cream it still feels Christmassy but in a fresh way (I hope)!

Once the layout was sorted it was just a case of working out how the colours worked together and I eventually ended up with two possible colourways. And boy was I torn between them!


Deciding between the two was almost impossible! I asked quite a lot of people what they thought and there wasn’t really any clear winner. I ummed and ahhed over it for days. When designing the card I’d always seen it with a dark background but I fell in love with the cream as soon as I added it. Plus I was aware that the softer palette could make the card more appealing. In the end I went with the navy background, it was such a close run thing but I chose the dark one for a few reasons, firstly was personal preference (it just felt a bit more like me!) but there were also some practical considerations, the darker colour popped a bit more and was a slightly stronger read at small sizes and mostly it just looked more fun to me! I LOVE how the darkness of the background seems to make some of the icons glow, just like magical twinkly Christmas lights!


What do you think? Did I make the right choice? Do you prefer the cream background? Which is your favourite icon?
Make Art That Sells is a five week course so I’ll try and post a review from each week and share a bit of my process and progress so check back to find out how I’m getting on!

3 Responses to Make Art That Sells: A lesson on finding the joy

  1. linda October 16, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

    I think both colorways are pretty, but perhaps the lighter version is more festive as Lilla puts it often… it seems that using neutrals are so important – something I need to learn myself!

  2. Lauren Hay October 16, 2013 at 9:52 pm #

    Both colour ways look great and I love your illustrations! Think I’m slightly pulled towards the cream one though!

  3. michele October 17, 2013 at 1:40 pm #

    The navy background does pop and draws more attention than cream, but I’d buy the cream background card if offered the choice because it is fresh but still traditional.

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