I’m a creative, experienced, multi-purpose artist
who can take projects start to finish in a variety of styles.

Good designs sell – mine sell out!

Friday, September 3, 2010

"Dessert"

I had a job making pretty boxes for chocolates and bakery products. This box was made for Mrs. Fields as part of a holiday series. I'm happy to say this series was so successful, I created new art for it every year.

This art started out as pieces of watercolor that I scanned and morphed in PhotoShop. I keep the elements on different layers because there are always changes. The background door changed from red to green to weathered white before the customer was satisfied.

All of the elements in this piece were created from very little actual painting. For instance, the berries were created from just two bunches. Copy/paste, copy/paste... except the Creative Director for Mrs. Fields is very observant, and had me alter the highlights on every berry so it showed the light source coming from one direction. Good call on his part. Silent groaning on mine. That's a lot of berries!

Even something like the bow was created in multiple layers. I painted a solid bow, tried out different colors, put a brocade pattern over it, and played with the shadows and highlights to match everything else. Even the tag attached to the bow took seven layers: background colors, star, text, grommet, and string.




It has to be this way in a corporate world. I loved working with MF's CD because he has a good eye, makes useful comments, and appreciates good work -- but he is only one cog in the corporate world, though a very important cog in that wheel. My art went to committees of people I never spoke with, and often returned with comments like "Put teddy bears in it" because somebody's wife likes teddy bears. Having a great CD can keep the teddy bears out of things because the CD can defend your work when you can't.

All of this is just the domestic side of business. I also created schematic drawings and printing directions for Chinese manufacturers, often for someone who doesn't speak English. I don't plan on learning Chinese, so we often had to rely on computer translations, which can be like talking through mud. Numbers and drawings they understand.

Samples of the boxes would come from China, product samples came from the customer to see if they fit properly, and I fended off my coworkers' appetites long enough to measure things. I loved getting samples. I really like Mrs. Fields' cookies, but I also got the most decadent chocolates from some of my customers... Uh, excuse me... I started having chocolate flashbacks.

Once all of the above was settled, I created final art for the printer. I originally started out just doing layouts, but when the okay came through for a project, they wanted it out the door immediately. It became easier to work on elements of the final art through the approval process, and adapting it to the final die lines.

When I started this blog, I had the best intentions of trying to say useful things to other artists. I hope this gives some insight into what it's like to make packaging art. I'm open to other ideas of what you'd like to see in the future too. I love getting feedback!

34 comments:

  1. Beautiful, Linda! Thanks for sharing the process! I too combine painting and Photoshop to create totally new art. It really is amazing what can be done, and it saves so much time in revisions.

    And, oh!, what a fabulous sample!

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  2. Hi Linda, this was fun to walk through your package design project with you! I agree with your point about the importance of having great CD to serve as a buffer between the artist and the "I want" committee! Sheesh, the hoops they can create! Hee hee! You did such a beautiful job with this one, and I'm sure it was all worth it in the end- chocolate always makes it better! :o)

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  3. Hey Linda! Thanks for a peek into the packaging world! Fascinating! You have had some really cool projects! This is so beautiful! Love the light and shadows!! Have a great weekend!!

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  4. it's really lovely Linda and an interesting post, thanks for sharing :)

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  5. Chocolate does make everything better! Thanks for the comments. I forgot to say that this was a big piece, I think 30" wide. That made for a big file and even with a groaning computer during all those revisions, like Krista says, doing it on the computer saves so much time in those revisions.

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  6. Thanks for sharing your process! The work is lovely.

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  7. This is an interesting post to read and your work is amazingly beautiful!

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  8. Wow, fascinating post! Beautiful work! Have you ever taught industrial design?

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  9. Thanks! @Nancy, I used to substitute teach in public school, and my favorite class was vocational commercial art. I really like kids when they belong to someone else, and especially like the older kids who are trying to figure out how to be adults. I also had a job where I organized fine arts classes at a community center. That was fun. Sometimes I do think about teaching again.

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  10. Wow! This is really amazing! And sooo delicious looking! :o)
    Thanks so much for stopping by, and leaving your comment on my blog! So nice of you...and very true :o)

    Thanks!

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  11. What a blog!! I found you through Illustration Friday and Sonja above on the comment list...you left a comment there and I clicked on your pix cause I liked what you said in your comment to her....I just love your work!!

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  12. Beautiful piece and really interesting insight into the packaging world. Thank you!

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  13. Thanks for the follow Cynthia! And thanks to everyone for the comments!

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  14. Thanks for the comment on my cupcakes blog. Glad it lead me here - This was a great read! (And WOW that IS a lot of berries to have to edit!!!) It turned out beautiful though! :)

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  15. Haha, I can totally relate on the highlight thing... I'm pretty OCD about highlights myself but now & then something slips by in the rush, & oh, what a headache.

    Reminds me of an illustrator's comments in an annual years ago-- he said he always makes one big, obvious mistake on purpose, because some A.D.s just have to change SOMETHING, & if there's nothing obvious they may opt for "turn all the figures 1/4 to the left!" ARGHHH!

    I never could quite bring myself to do that but with some A.D.s I've been tempted!! At least now all the changes can be made on the computer. I started out with just ink & paint, & that turned every headache into a migraine!

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  16. Thanks Tiffany!

    @Curious -- AD's have given me lots of headaches. I even gave them to myself when I was an AD. I don't make obvious mistakes on purpose, but I do try to head people off by giving them options to choose from. Mostly I try to express my love to the AD's I enjoy working with so they'll keep me busy and I don't have to work with the others as much :)

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  17. That's a good policy. It's amazing how different the experience can be with different A.D.s-- I don't so much mind the ones who are perfectionists since I pretty much roll that way myself. It's the ones who say they want one thing, & then when you give it to them decide they want something completely different, who really drive me bonkers. Even if they pay extra for the second treatment it wreaks hell with the schedule!!

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  18. It used to be that an artist had to work for years to make their way up to the AD position. Now there are a lot of people who just don't have the same level of experience, and that shows to the artists they direct. I'm not so sure the people who hire them get that. There's an idea out there that young people are somehow more creative and vibrant than people who've been in the business longer. I think that's a mistake, but that's the way it is. Nothing against young people, but they have a lot to learn.

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  19. Amazing piece of work, thanks for writing about the process, really makes you appreciate the hard work you put into this. Beautiful.

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  20. I loved reading through your post, and your illustration is absolutely beautiful! And with adding highlights to every berry, I admire your patience, and it most certainly paid off.. :)

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  21. Thanks for the comment Linda. I admire your work and find it incredibly inspiring.

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  22. Really interesting post, and great end product:)

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  23. wow.. i'm speechless! amazing work!

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  24. Thanks everybody! Wow... I made someone speechless!

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  25. Wonderful post, Linda! The steps to take to get to the end result is often not reflected upon, so to speak of and show your work and the process is quite valuable. I often reflect upon animation in the old days when "in-between" illustrations were hand drawn and not computerized...oh the hours! This piece is lovely! In fact, my mother-in-law collects tins as they are truly works of art...your work is beautiful!

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  26. Thanks Shirley! Part of the goal with Mrs. Fields was to create boxes and tins that people would keep and bring out for that holiday the next year. I went on an interview once where the man interviewing me owned one of my boxes. Yay! Too bad he didn't give me the job!

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  27. Wow! That's such a cool job! Great work!

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  28. Beautiful work... love the details in the post!

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  29. Oh Linda thanks so much for walking us through the process. So the CD made you change the highlights, ugh, I would be in trouble :) Its a great design and good to see the use of old and new media to create something above the ordinary...

    cheers :)

    PS more on this ilk will help us aspirers :)

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  30. Andrew, I have a couple of ideas for future posts, but I just got the word for this week, "proverb", and none of my ideas go with that. I'll see what I can du...

    Thanks for the comments!

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  31. Wow - I never realized all that goes into packaging art!

    (I'm amazed...impressed...stunned that the creative director caught the lighting on the berries!)

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  32. The best directors can make our art better than we can imagine. The worst, well, you know. Some day maybe I'll show the disasters? The end results equal sales. The current CD improved sales over his predecessors, and I was a happier artist.

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