Sunday, 24 April 2011

Week 3 - Preparing for the Grassmarket Festival

Week 3 of my Challenge 52, most of this next week will be spent trying to get stock ready for the Grassmarket festival in Edinburgh. I'd decided this year not to do many craft fairs but when I saw that they were looking for people to have stalls at this new festival I thought I'd give it a go as I've not been at an event through in Edinburgh before and I liked the sound of it. It's more of a festival set up with live music and events than a strict craft fair and the stalls space is in outdoor marquees along the Grassmarket area which tends to be busy anyway. I've booked in for Friday the 29th (the day of the Royal wedding) so hopefully the public holiday will bring people out as well, the festival runs from 12 till 8pm so even if people do stay in to watch the wedding I'm hoping they venture out after!

So as well as making stock I've been trying to get together a few promotional items for the fair including making totebags with my logo on (see below). I'm thinking of offering these free to people who spend over a certain amount of money on my t-shirt/clothing items.

For my jewellery and accesories I'm making up wee cotton pouches, again with my logo on. Although I love the black boxes I usually use for online orders I've found these to be a faff when selling in person as it can be awkward tying the ribbons etc when it's busy. The pouches will be much easier i think, plus I'll still bring some boxes for anyone who'd like a more formal gift-wrapping.

I'm also working on some other promotional items which I'm going to use as free gifts for the fair and for an online promotion later on. I need to get some photos of these made up once they're finished; in the meantime if you happen to be around Edinburgh on Friday pop by my stall, if you mention you read this then I'll give you a wee free gift. So on with preparing stock for my stall, keep your fingers crossed for me that it's a sunny day!

Also check out Nanuk Jewellery's Whoopie Pies she made for her challenge 52...they look so delicious!

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Week 2 - Mousemats

Second week of Challenge 52 and this week the focus is a new product. I have made several items for Anne of Anne Reeves Jewellery personalised with her logo in the past, including an apron for her workshops and a phone cover, so when she contacted me about making her a personalised mousemat I agreed to add these to my product range.

I make these items in the same way I do my t-shirts - with contour cut vinyl. Vinyl is an extremely thin sheet of highly coloured material that is heat activated to form a permanent bond with material. The manufacturers say that the bond it forms should outlast the life of the garment/item itself so it is a great alternative to screen printing, especially when one-offs are needed or when special effects like chromes, glitters etc are desired.

The first step in making something is to make sure the design itself can be cut. There are two main type of image files - vector and raster. Raster images are made up of pixels (like most "picture" and photo files) so the shapes and colours are made up of variations in colour of these pixels. As automated cutting machines need a shape or edge to cut these files are no use to them  and have to be converted to the second type of file, a vector file, before they're ready for cutting. Vector files contain mathematical information that describes the colours, shapes, lines etc within the image, essentially you can think of them being made up of actual shapes instead of a collection of dots. These my cutting machine understands as it gives it the shapes it's required to cut.

So my first task in making a personalised item for someone is usually vectorising their logo if they can't supply me a vector version (NB if you get your logo made up professionally they should supply you with this version as it's also the best version for print, it will usually be an eps, ai, or vectorised pdf file). Luckily in this case i had aldready done this the first time Anne ordered something from me. You can see her original logo and the vectorised version below.

Original raster image
Vectorised image

Once I have the vector version of the image I can then cut it in the vinyls I've selected to match the colours. In this instance Anne had told me previously she liked the metallic colours I used in her phone cover (I'd made one side with metallic vinyls and the other in a different process with her original logo printed full colour), so I used the same colours in this job - shimmery mettalic purple and shimmery baby pink. Once cut i then "weed" the logo and apply it using my heat press. I'll go further into this process in a future post I have planned where I'll take you through the steps I go through in making a t-shirt.

So the end result is I have a personalised mousemat ready to send out to Anne. I've added some pictures of the finished article below, the camera's not great at picking out the simmer of the colours!

Before Anne asked me about this I hadn't thought about making mousemats as I assumed that most people didn't use them anymore but I've been inspired to add them to my range in my online store.  I mocked up some pictures of mousemates with different logos on (including mine!) for the listing. If anyone's interested you can see the listing here

 Another Challenge 52 participant Louise from Nanuk Jewellery has posted up Week 2 as well, you can find her post here.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Week 1 - Menu Design

First week of Challenge 52 (see this post for an explanation of the challenge) and I thought I'd write about one of my recent graphic design jobs, I just got delivery of the printed up design so perfect timing!

The brief for this job was to design a drinks menu for a bar that could sit out on their tables. The bar already has quite a strong corporate identity (see their website) so I had to make sure the menu would fit with their other promotional material and signage.

The manager's initial idea was to just have a simple folded leaflet style menu as the budget wasn't there for the printing costs for a booklet. However when they told me the budget they did have I thought there might be some room to get a bit creative and hopefully get them something a bit more functional than a basic leaflet. I thought by basing the design around one A3 sheet I could maybe make them a booklet style menu while keeping the costs to a minimum.

The drinks could be split into five categories so with the front page making six I had the idea to make a booklet with coloured, staggered pages so customers could quickly find what they wanted. So much measuring and cutting up of paper later I worked out a design I thought would work quite well to clearly show all the information required. The staggered page design also meant I could make the best use of space i.e. larger categories could be near the back so they had more page space and the smaller ones at the front.

The fact the pages are colour coded and all different sizes means the A3 flat sheet looks a bit confused but when it's trimmed, folded and assembled it all fits together. The front and back of the sheet is shown below:

The good thing is too that the different colours mean it's clear where to fold the pages so assembly is quick. The mock up of the final booklet showing the page layouts is below:

Finally, some pictures of the actual menus, before and after assembly. I'm happy with the way they turned out and they worked out way cheaper than a normal 12 page booklet would have been, in fact they were only marginally more expensive than the original idea for an A4 folded version would have been. They were printed on 200gsm stock and matt laminated so they're pretty sturdy and durable.

If anyone would like to join in with Challenge 52 just comment below and I'll work out a way to create a blog link-up etc. Nanuk jewellery is taking part and you can see her Week 1 post here.
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