05/31/2011

NSS recap :: part 3…what to show?

Posted in meant to be sent, NSS/national stationery show, wholesale tagged , , , , , at 9:17 pm by meant to be sent

so once i signed up, i turned my focus to my product line (between filling regular custom orders and working full time, that is!)

up until this point, i had been a custom designer…so whatever i was going to show was going to be pretty much brand spankin’ new…

i had actually started designing and concepting for my collection in late summer (before i officially signed up for NSS) but i still was not sure what i would debut with. so i started by designing patterns (I LOVE PATTERN!) and eventually started applying them to wedding designs but was also sprinkling in some holiday and baby stuff. that was fun, but i quickly turned my focus to just wedding for now. BUT i still wasn’t positive exactly what form these designs would take…a line of boxed designs? albums? both?

below: the very very early stages of the collection…wedding, holiday, baby including a few of the patterns
please excuse the horrible iphone pics!

now, to album or not to album?
that was the BIG question. honestly, i had the album idea in the back of my mind all along, but it was an overwhelming idea…even so, when i started designing, i got a little overzealous and wanted to launch with, well….a little of everything! luckily i reigned myself in and re-focused on one goal: launching a collection of wedding albums. (which i changed again later on!)

doing an album (or albumS) is no easy task. there are a million and one things that go into it, especially if you are starting from scratch with a whole new collection of designs, because you are not only designing the suites that go in the book, but you are designing the book itself…more on that later!

even though it seemed so overwhelming, i started leaning more and more toward a collection of albums (not just one) when i turned the focus to wedding.  given the customizable nature of albums + me coming from a custom design background, it seemed like a good way to go.

BUT i  knew it was a GINORMOUS undertaking and didn’t know how many albums i could get done or even how many designs would be in each…but i did know i wanted to take a different approach if i was going to do them, and for two reasons:

1. well, to be different and set myself apart!
2. to simplify what i found to be (i did a bunch of research!) a somewhat cumbersome and complicated process

that was settled. albums it is!

so once i got on board with the album idea, like i said, my idea was to create a collection of books that were simple yet full options. to accomplish that, i decided it might help if each book was based on its own style or theme. right away that felt right, so i started deciding on different styles to work with.

in my research, i considered what i had experienced with my own custom clients and what the trends and most popular styles were, i researched in stores and online to see what was already out there and also considered what i felt was lacking a presence in the marketplace.

maybe the most fun part in researching was snapping pics of stuff that inspired me! i took pictures of textures, patterns, clothes, furniture you name it! here are just a handful of the pics i took while out shopping, looking at houses etc.

even in this early stage, there were lots of ups and downs…a lot of maybe this or maybe that…a lot of things i thought i would for sure use were put on hold and some got nixed all together…some designs that i thought would be great for one style, were actually perfect for another…and so on. but i had a really good feeling about this idea of “books by style”, so it stuck. (though nothing was for sure until a few months later when i really solidified the concept for the collection…more on that later!)

so yay!  i had a direction to follow! now, to narrow down styles/themes to focus on for the initial launch at the show.

FYI: this development process literally went on until TWO WEEKS before the show!!! yikes!

to help me focus, once i had done a lot of researching, i made a big inspiration board (below) that hung in my studio area! this helped a lot to see what i was working toward every day.

the design process
after i decided to do albums and picked styles that i thought would be good to launch with, i started really designing. like i mentioned, i had some that i had started to mess around with over the summer, and a handful of patterns i had designed, but there was a TON more to do and hadn’t begun to scratch the surface of pulling it together.

to keep things as simple as possible (MUCH easier said than done!), i approached it much like i do my custom work—i always start with just the main invitation panel…and this was no different.

so to start out, i designed a bunch of random panels…just whatever came to me that seemed like it could fit somewhere, somehow in the collection. kinda like sketching and getting lots of ideas jotted down. this is a great exercise, by the way, and really helps to create lots of different approaches and design explorations that end up being really useful down the road!!

after i had a bunch (30-40) of these initial designs,  i started categorizing them by style and separated into different files named by style for that collection…and continued to create design after design all in one specific “style-file” so i could look at them all together as a collection, while i designed.

{TIP: indesign is GREAT for this. i know a lot of people design right in illustrator, but when you want to easily have multiple pages in a document, indesign is the way to go. plus it can do most things illustrator can do! though i use illustrator for lots of things, indesign is made for layout design)

above, printed designs spread out for review

i did this for each style i had in mind, noting where there were holes as i went, and going back to design more for those areas as i got new ideas. eventually, some designs made the cut, some did not. once i decided a particular design felt right, it was expanded on and more pieces were created based on that design (rsvp, details card, place card, save the date, thank you etc). the process was fairly smooth from here forward, but went on for MONTHS.

would you like fries with that?
another big thing to decide on for me was what add-ons to offer. so deciding what kind and how many pieces to include in each suite was another sticking point for me. i kept feeling like i had to offer everything under the sun…every accessory anyone could ever want. not true! it is so easy to get caught up in what other people are doing or the notion of what you think is the norm or standard for the industry…but while there might be a reason behind what is typically done with albums or other products, it is more important to design and produce your products how you want them to be. so, definitely ask around and research like crazy, but ultimately, you want your product to be a reflection of you. so take what you learn and put your own filter on it.

that being said, i got a bit hung up on that a lot with regard to how to structure my albums too…everything from pricing, to the order of the pages and number of designs, to the way swatches are shown. i realized though that my whole goal in this was to do something different and shake things up a bit. so the last thing i was going to do was to do it like all of the other books i had seen!

the collection was a true labor of love to create…and even though i started early, it still came down to the wire. no matter how early i thought i was starting, it is SO easy to get bogged down with details that will suck time out of your schedule…and in my case couple that with researching vendors, planning the booth, re-branding, redoing my site (still in progress) and working.

in hindsight, there are some things i could have finalized much sooner…and others things that took SO much time that i didn’t think would! (picking a color palette is hard!!!)

so one piece of advice to close out this post that really applies to the whole mega-post…i think the whole process is a little like planning a wedding. everything is an important detail that you will likely obsess over. BUT do your best to stay focused and pick your battles…figure out what you can do without, and what matters the most to you. make decisions and move on. you will get there and will realize that even regarding your products, some things can be finalized later on and even continue to evolve after the show. i.e. if you really want to add another shade of orange to your palette or switch out for a different PMS color for navy blue, you can totally do that after the show before the books ship. seriously.

next up :: PART 4 — finding the end of the internet (aka research)

1 Comment »

  1. […] next up :: PART 3 — what to show? […]


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