Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Translating Fine Art for a Commercial Market

I recently had the pleasure of working on the cute stationery shown above, using art from the fabulously talented Tracy Nuskey-Dodson. I thought it might be fun to show you the steps I go through when designing products from new art.

Above is the original art created by Tracy. You might have noticed that it's a little bit different from the products at the top, this is where my design skills come in :) Ideally, when I design stationery products, I will use a "collection" that consists of a few different but MATCHING pieces of art and/or patterns. It's hard to create products from a single image or pattern. At minimum, I need one stand alone design and matching pattern to create a product, but I prefer more, 4 -6 pieces is better!  Tracy is more of a fine artist and doesn't necessarily create her art for licensing, but she has a large body of work with a consistent feel, so in this case the art director chose 2 matching pieces and I started working :)

 First, I got started by removing the background from the lady's head, little trees and house. Next I chose some coordinating colors - I thought the teal blue looked great with the pink,  I used the same pink from the hair, and I chose a light beige to complement her skin. After I had the colors I wanted, I turned them into patterns - obviously a polka dot pattern goes perfect with this art, so I made 2 in varying sizes. The third pattern I made was the newspaper collage. Tracey uses collage in her art, so this pattern matches well. 

After I have the matching patterns created, I started applying it to the products! It is INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT that you keep the style on multiple products consistent in size, font, etc. Years ago, as a new designer, this is one of the mistakes I made, but boy did I learn fast :) When my company creates products for a big retailer, often we will often have to follow very detailed style guides. I was the only designer working on this project, so I created a "style guide" in my head and applied it to every product I worked on. I created the simple one above just so you could get an idea of what I'm talking about. Real style guides are a bit more in depth and list pantone colors, several different label types, lots of rules etc. You can click on the photo above to enlarge it.

 Here is a few more examples of how I keep consistent styling on different products and labels. All together, I applied Tracy's art to 30 different products, then placed all those products in a catalog. If these products are bought by a retailer, then I will get to do production work on them. But that is another post for another time. So how was my first teaching post? I hope you learned something, because I have lots more information to share for any young designers out there :)  Also, if you haven't already, you can check out Tracy Nuskey-Dodson's site here

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