Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Spinster Club

After designing the cover of best-selling YA author Holly Bourne’s latest novel ‘Are We All Lemmings + Snowflakes?’, I was asked by long-term client Will Steele at Usborne Books UK to re-design the covers of The Spinster Club books, including the series branding.
Felt tips, Sharpies, assorted markers and really sharp, very soft pencils were employed to create a dialled-down, doodly look for the covers of this incredibly popular series.
For the first, 'Lemmings', I'd wanted to really emphasise the thread of mental health that runs thought Holly's books, and which has made them so incredibly popular among young readers, by employing some of the habits I know I have when I'm anxious, tense, upset or stressed. 
These filter through into my work like this:
- gripping my pencil till my hand really hurts and my knuckles have gone white
 - clenching my non-drawing hand into a tight ball till it's painful
- going over and over a line till the paper's gone through
- pressing really hard into the paper

- snapping pencil leads

- losing fine motor control over what I'm doing, resulting in clumsy or overbearing marks, lines gone over, smudges and ink blots (usually I want these, but then there are times when I don't)

- thinking everything I've produced is rubbish

- then thinking I'm a giant fraud who can't believe she's managed to kid everyone for this many years.
(This last one is another blog altogether!)

The results were exactly what I wanted, with emotionally-driven marks forming the roughs as I pieced together the elements to make the various options. The inclusion of school paper - lines and grids - felt important, to communicate the setting:

The angry-scrawl made it into the final cover, but with the addition of some more confident looking lettering (less of the Goth) and a neat, hand drawn Holly Bourne which has become Holly's new logo. I was sad this paper scar, didn't make it, as this felt like it summed up a lot about what happens when I'm trying to work and I'm not feeling good about it (it's either this, nor nothing at all, as I just can't work if my brain's feeling seriously knocked off kilter by something):

The rest of the covers were kind of plain sailing once the tone had been set - and in this case, the flavour had been established with previous versions, so it was a case of refreshing and injecting some energy into them, with the same tool - big marker pens and paper!
Look out for the rest of the series making its way onto shelves throughout 2019.

Monday, February 18, 2019

A Chocolate Hiatus.

When we first did Solid Egg in 2012 as a one-off, inspired by a mate’s casual observation about childhood Easter disappointment, we went from amusing idea to fully-branded, ready-to-roll product in just a few weeks.

A creative project by Leigh and I, it was only ever intended to be for excited friends and a few keen clients and colleagues - the word ‘profit’ wasn’t even in the brief we wrote for ourselves!

But to our surprise, it proved so popular it sold out in a couple of weeks. The next year, encouraged by fans of gluttony we made triple - and sold out again. Then we doubled production again - and sold out once more. We changed the packaging every year, to keep it fresh - and collectible. We did gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, organic; we did vegan, we did pralines, peanut butter and ethical chocolate, and our packaging was 100% recyclable. As the range, the girth of the eggs and our bellies expanded, word spread, and the eggs kept selling out. Bought by chocolate lovers as far-flung as Japan, LA, New York, Korea, New Zealand and Australia, we had a cracking time hatching as many egg puns as it’s possible to find.

For three months of the year, running Solid Egg is like having a second full-time job - so we stopped calling it a Side Project a long time ago. But as creative projects go, it's been great; providing outlets for flexing some packaging muscle, trying out advertising ideas, getting our marketing heads on for something other than illustration, and talking to keen chocolate fans, connoisseurs and suppliers the world over. But in the last couple of years, we’ve had elements of our hand-drawn logo poached, our advertising copy ‘borrowed’, our authenticity challenged, and had eggs thrown at us on social media by puzzlingly furious trolls questioning our motives and ethics; quite the learning curve - but not what we started Solid Egg for. 

We have a lot on the agenda this year, and we can only give our best to so many things - so, more than the brief spell of trolling or the dubious copying, this was really more about being honest with ourselves around where we want and need to put our energies. So we've parked Solid Egg for 2019. Already we're getting lovely emails and messages across social media expressing disappointment but absolute positivity about the product - so we're not saying 'it's over', more...we shall see.

Over the last 6 years we know we’ve made a lot of people very happy (and possibly a bit fatter), so we want to thank all our eggcited fans, loyal customers and supporters who came back year after year. You made our daft project a lot of fun!

Here's to narrower waistlines,*
Leigh + Sarah x

(*genuinely - we actually do put weight on while we're running the project. We think it's because of the ever-present smell of chocolate...)


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