Let's talk paper.
It's one of my favorite things. I will walk into every stationery store (notice that I know the correct spelling of "stationery") on your block and I will stay in there for at least an hour. Paper is tangible, it often carries a story or marks an important life moment, and it's one of those small delights that can make your day, if you let it. I have letters from my grandmother that I treasure from the time I challenged myself to send a piece of mail every day for a month. She was the only one who wrote me back and I honestly hadn't expected any responses. It felt like getting a hug and a cup of coffee in the mail. It still feels that way every time I come across them.
A few years ago I started making calendars by hand, initially to sell and support victims of Hurricane Irene when I lived in Brooklyn. I covered all my costs, had a creative challenge while I was locked in my apartment for a week during the storm, and donated around $300. It won't be in any newspapers, but I was proud of it.
I'm not sure if that's what made people think that I might be able to design wedding invitations. Perhaps it got out that I used to draw characters from Aladdin over and over when I was a kid. Who knows.
I suspect that my little sister, Rachel, asked me to design her invitations to save some money. She wanted hand drawn and written, and maybe it was something I could do. To be honest, I was her second choice. We asked my aunt Mary Alice to create them (she was a beautiful artist), but her struggle with cancer was beyond what we realized at the time.
So I began to fake it.
Confession Number One:
I used pieces of invitations I liked on Pinterest for inspiration and initially drew this in an old journal.
- Being naive. I had no idea that I lacked many tools to actually create an invitation, so I wasn't very intimidated.
- Rachel and Jake gave me creative freedom which was nice, since I had no idea how this would turn out.
What didn't work:
- Being naive. How do I put something I drew into a computer?
- Spelling something wrong. And finding that error after I finally figured out how to get a drawing into a computer, get the file the correct size, take out any shadows, etc.
- I didn't think to make cut lines for the printer, which resulted in a lot of time at the Kinko's paper cutting machine, hoping I was getting the measurements even.
- If you need to scan your work into a computer but lack the proper tools...there's an app for that! I use Scanner Pro and it's great. Bonus: you can use scanning apps for old photos pre-digital age.
- These days there are hand-lettering courses everywhere. I suggest Learn Lettering by Sean Wes or the Modern Calligraphy Summit, featuring Nicole Miyuki and 8 other artists/teachers.
Confession Number Two:
I created this invitation in Pages. Yep. The program meant for word processing. Also, some of these colors are not the fancy paints I bought at the art store. They are Crayola colors I bought at Target.
- Chelsea knew that I'd been learning how to paint with watercolors and she believed that I was good enough to use this new-found interest to create her wedding invitations. She was confident in me.
- I did this project right after I moved to Austin and I was thankful for something creative to keep me occupied while I figured out how to live alone in a new city.
What didn't work:
- I've been drawing flowers since I was young so I had a lot of fun reaching back into those days. I loved how watercolor allowed the flowers to sort of find themselves. But I did NOT appreciate the watercolor trying to find a letter. That lack of control with the brush had me starting over again and again.
- Again, transferring the work to digital without losing the color quality. I ended up taking photos in natural light and deleting the background of the images in a program that has nothing to do with the Adobe creative suite...
- It doesn't matter how you get there as long as it looks good in the end. Better programs and tools might help you get there faster, but if you've got the gumption (woo!) then you can do it. (Is this good advice for life? I can't tell.)
- Anyone can watercolor! You did it when you were 6-years-old! And now you can go buy a brand new Crayloa set and make a wedding invitation.
Confession Number Three:
75% of the time it took me to make this invitation was spent on "How the hell do I used Adobe programs" message boards/asking my co-worker, the expert, for help.
- Lauren is my other younger sister, and she also trusted my creative instinct.
- There were a few things she and Faustin definitely wanted (the circular design on the RSVP, color story, and shape of the invitation) that helped launch the design.
What didn't work:
- Initially, Lauren sent me about 10 different ideas with few similarities and said, "Something like this!" before I encouraged them to narrow it down (I'm not THAT creative.)
- I was learning how to use the programs while I was creating. I went the long way around and had to Google every single "how to" before I could get anything to work like I wanted. The hardest part was seeing a vision for what I wanted to create but not being able to get there.
- Use Creative Market! We knew Lauren and Faustin wanted a floral motif, so I found a designer on Creative Market and sent them some options. They picked their favorite and bought the set which helped shape the entire design.
- Ask for help. My co-worker, Cali, was a life-saver when I thought there was no hope. She showed me how to make the flowers different shades of purple, helped narrow down fonts, and told me I didn't suck.
Confession Number Four:
Pinterest, ftw. Totally fell in love with this timeline on someone else's invitation.
- The theme of the party was black and white. Easy color scheme!
- This was just really fun. Once I decided on an idea, I had a blast making it come to life. Fun is key to making something you're proud of.
- I made cut lines! Easy cutting!
What didn't work:
- The lines on the back of the invitation printed a little funny and I wish I'd made a stronger black border or none at all. Other than that, I was feeling pretty strong on this one.
- Icons are SO FUN. I love using them and I found a great website to download free ones called Flat Icon. Just type in "wedding" and look at all the fun stuff that pops up!
- It's okay to be inspired by other people's work. Their inspiration combined with your creative eye will equal something brand new.
Since I love paper and mail so much, I thought I'd send you some! Here's what you'll get:
- "Be Always Blooming" print from Nicole Miyuki (as mentioned above)
- "Today Was a Good Day" greeting card from Paper Jam Press
- and a $5 gift card from Target so you can go buy some Crayloa watercolors ;)
How to enter in under 5 minutes:
Winners will be contacted one week from today. Good luck, friends!
NOTE: If you've already nominated a gal it does not count as entry.