I dread surprises. Barring a few exceptions (like winning the lottery or making a new friend out of the blue), I much prefer to have a heads up – on nearly everything in my personal life.
However, the creative process doesn’t bow to structure or predictability. And golly am I glad – how boring!
I literally find myself surprised at the end of every project (even this one as you’ll see!).
I’m also amazed at all the different projects that come my way. I love, love, love it when friends and friends-of-friends become clients.
Of course, I appreciate every single client I have (really!) whether we have met in person or not, but I get such joy from making beautiful designs for those I know personally.
So, as always, that thrill of a new project ignited when I received an email from Laura asking me to design stickers for her daughter’s mission trip.
Designing Stickers for a Good Cause
Laura and I met at a homeschooling event a few years ago and discovered that we had more than homeschooling in common – our husbands also work together. We’ve become friends through various school and work events as well as through Facebook.
When she contacted me, Laura explained that her college-aged daughter, Reagan, wanted to serve in Africa this spring. The group plans to help with a building project for kiddos and support a local missionary in South Africa.
But, the cost of the plane ticket alone was too much for Reagan’s student budget to handle. She estimated the cost to be around two thousand dollars – ouch!
Laura and Reagan brainstormed fundraising ideas and finally landed on selling stickers to help cover the transportation costs… and would I be interested in designing the stickers?
Um YES, I would love to!
Initial Design Ideas from the Client
During my first meeting with Laura, we established a few parameters for the sticker design.
- Final product must be affordable for everyone, including Reagan’s student friends to buy.
- Sticker design should incorporate a meerkat image drawn by one of Reagan’s friends.
- Communicate the idea of serving or going.
- Include the shape of Africa as it’s more recognizable than the shape of South Africa.
- Complete the project ASAP to give Reagan as much time as possible to fundraise.
Before I could move forward with the sketching phase, we needed to nail down our costs. I always offer a discount for nonprofits, but my design fee is only half of the equation. The bigger question rested on printing.
Luckily, I know a guy.
A local colleague of mine has connections to print everything from business cards to vehicle wraps. After a phone call to him, I found that we could get the most bang for Laura’s buck by going with 2″x2″ outdoor stickers. By using high-quality 3M film, Reagan’s friends and supporters could slap stickers on water bottles, notebooks, or even cars.
With the size constraint now decided, I could move on to the best part – creating art for Reagan’s stickers.
I always ask my clients to put together a Pinterest board with images that reflect the look and feel they would like to achieve in the final product. That helps me understand the direction they are going so I can create designs that they love as quickly as possible.
Reagan made a board with super fun outdoorsy and retro stickers (you can see it here). Yay – so fun!
In addition to the pinned ideas, Reagan sent me the following meerkat image that her friend drew. She hoped to incorporate it as well as the shape of Africa.
When I start sketching a new project, I make a list of 10-20 words that help me decide on a direction, look, or feel. For Reagan’s project, I wrote things like serving, going, loving, building, bricks, travel, postage, passport, stamps, ticket, etc.
Since the theme of travel encompasses a large portion of the list and Reagan is actually traveling (duh), I came up with the idea to design a postage stamp. I felt this would work well with the small size of the sticker, too.
I put together a few options for Laura and Reagan, using the ideas of travel, going, serving, as well as the meerkat and Africa icons. In case the two of them weren’t crazy about postage stamps, I offered a few options without the ridged outline.
I also included one outlier in the initial round of options – I rotated the design so that it still remained in a 2″x2″ square but felt like a diamond instead. I like that it has the look of a road sign so it still gives a nod to travel, but it’s something different, unexpected, and even feels a little bigger than it actually is.
Color Me Retro – And Just Go
Surprise – Reagan chose the last layout!
(There it is again – work always throws curveballs at me.)
I really loved the postage stamp look, but I work for my client, not for myself.
With the layout decided, Reagan had one last request. She really loved the meerkat and asked if I could incorporate the cute little guy into the design she chose. Of course!
Keeping in mind the small scale of the final printed size, I added the meerkat but removed everything that wasn’t 100% necessary. I also fleshed out the text with a bit of a shadow to make it readable at 2″.
Using the palettes from the stickers that Reagan pinned, I colored the final layout in a handful of vintage-y ways.
Though Reagan loved all of them, she was running out of time to squeeze in a rush job with our printer. She had to decide – and quickly!
Ultimately, Reagan settled on the following color scheme with universal appeal – both her guy friends and her gal friends as well as her parents’ friends will be proud to sport this sticker in support of Reagan and her missions trip.
Adorable, right?! Now all we had to do was wait for the printed stickers to show up. Patience… !
Stick ‘Em Up: The Final Product
Sadly, I did not snap a photo of the printed stickers (so sorry – it was my birthday, so please forgive me!). The colors turned out beautifully vibrant on the 3M film, and the scale of the design looked perfect. No squinting required.
Reagan is selling these stickers for $5 each, and all proceeds go to her missions trip expenses. If she sells them all, she’ll net over $1500 towards her ticket. Yay – Africa, here she comes!
Helping YOU Achieve Your Goals
It is my pleasure to help my clients achieve their goals. I create designs for all kinds of clients, individuals, nonprofits, and businesses. I am happy to find a way to work with you within the unique constraints of your particular assignment.
So, what project will YOU tackle next?
And how can I help?
Which sticker design did you like best? Would you have chosen differently than Reagan? What other products might you create to fundraise for a trip like Reagan’s? I would love to hear YOUR ideas!