From Concept to Creation: Pen & Ink

Happy Valentine’s Day! With love in the air and hearts all around, I thought today would be a good day to show all the love that is poured into the designs in my Etsy shop. I love what I do and that I get to do it from home, and I am happy to share this process with you.

All of my unique designs in my shop are created by me and I’ve been asked several times how I go from concept to creation. So, I thought I would share a little more about how I make my designs come to life. One of my favorite new designs that is full of playful pattern is my “Triangles” from my Pen & Ink Collection.

Pen&Ink Triangles, Birth Announcement by Kat Phillips

1) I begin with my hand-drawn sketch. Sometimes this is a doodle on a scrap sheet of paper, that as I am going just takes on a life of it’s own and the design just happens. Other times, it is more planned and possibly inspired by something like a great pattern or an architectural detail that caught my eye. The design usually starts out on paper with either a trusted Sharpie Permanent Marker or my favorite Pilot Precise V5 Rolling Ball ink pens. The sketch is first scanned in to my computer to create a digital version that I can tweak, and clean up before placing it in the design. 2) Next I play. A lot. Shuffling the elements from here to there until I like the layout. Sometimes I even sleep on it and come back the next day or two and continue to tweak. Then I get to choose the font styles, which is one of my favorite parts as it makes the design come to life. I add the wording and an image, and do any color palette adjustments. Then the layout is ready for it’s debut on my Etsy shop. 3) The layout is then customized by a lovely client, proofed and approved, and then beautifully printed and carefully packaged and shipped to it’s new home.

Concept 2 Creation - Pen&Ink - by Kat Phillips Designs

Also available in a soft feminine colorway.


Vintage Americana Baby Shower Invite

I had the honor of designing a very special baby shower invite for my dear friend, Kelly. We were in design school together and nearly spent every day together in class, but didn’t become good friends until a few years after graduation. Needless to say, with a shared love of design, fine papers, and the meaningful thought that goes into the details … I wanted to make this invite very special.

Kelly’s nursery theme was “Vintage Americana” so we (the hostesses) decided that would be the shower theme as well. Too fitting if you know Kelly! She is expecting a boy and so I kept the font choices masculine, classic, with a nostalgic nod to the type treatments of vintage war posters. The more I designed, the more fun I had. I turned to the invitation style of today’s modern weddings with varying sized cards typically stacked in the envelope with different information on each sheet. This layered-paper approach gave me freedom to add lots of detail without getting cluttered. I used various papers of the same hue from my stash of sample sheets from various projects over the years. This was a great exercise in creativity.

Here is a little peek into how this invite came to  be …

I created a “3” card that was a mini-flashcard style to sit at the top of my stack, with the look of a hand-stamped number “3.” The answer to the fill in the blank of “Baby” reads on the backside of the card along with her registry information, a fun additional lesson, and lyrics to a school yard song. Next in the lineup was a vintage linen postcard that I purchased from the Flea Market. The idea behind the postcards was to create a “Greetings from” postcard collection from around the United States. This would serve as her “Blessings” book and it would allow ALL of her invitees to participate even if they couldn’t be there in person to sign a guestbook. Each postcard was stamped with these fun set of 50 Greetings from State Stamps on Etsy. Next was the “We Want YOU” card, clearly inspired by the War enlistment posters. This was the perfect place to list the hostesses, or “sponsors.” I used two vintage illustrations from books passed on to me by my mother-in-law. The illustration with Christopher Robin and a very vintage-style Pooh is from the sweet little book When We Were Very Young. And the adorable marching children carrying the flag is by Genevieve Foster 1939, Stories of Early America. The Mail Ticket tag came next, and it was a nod to vintage Air Mail and Postal documents, and this card served as the instructions for recipients on what to do with the vintage postcard. Each recipient was instructed to write their blessings, well wishes and encouragements to her on the postcard and drop it in the mail to be received by her in the days leading up to the shower. **Side note, the mommy-to-be, Kelly, has absolutely loved receiving all the vintage postcards in the mail.** Last, but not least comes the Invitation card. I have a small collection of vintage Dick and Jane flashcards that I used in my daughter’s nursery, and so I used those as my inspiration for the invite card. I combined the style of the word flash cards with the addition flash cards to create “1+1=baby.” I coffee-stained each of the cards to age them before printing them. I wanted the invitation wording to look like someone just used an old flashcard and “wrote in” the information with their fine penmanship. To keep all the elements secure, I used red and blue rubber bands alternately between invites. Kelly’s invitation was adorned with real vintage stamps to complete the look.

Kelly never ceases to amaze me with her reactions. I was on the phone with her as she opened the invite and sweetly marveled at the details. It makes everything worth it when you know you made someone feel loved with a design you created just for them. I cannot wait for the day of her shower to arrive to celebrate this big milestone with my friend.