Baltimore Bridal Show

Come see Antonia Designs at the Baltimore Bridal Show – 2nd and 3rd February 2013!

Baltimore Bridal Show

Today I’m giving you a quick preview and teaser.  I will be having promotions like this half price admission.  Use it to come see Antonia Designs and come away with lots of ideas and information that I will turn into your dreamy wedding invitation.

Stay tuned for an event discount on wedding invitations.

baltimore bridal show admission coupon / Discount


Fresh Holiday Cards

We all want to have a memorable holiday card.  One way to do that is make it personal so it speaks to who you are.  This one I designed was for a tri-lingual ice skater.  She got many compliments on it.  It’s simple but goes to the heart – and has seasons greetings in three languages.

Ice skating Holiday Card

I also like to tap into years past for holiday inspiration.  A vintage card is wonderfully evocative – full of nostalgia.  Here’s a sneak peek of my own holiday card this year.

Nostalgic Vintage Holiday Card

How are you going to freshen up your holiday cards?

What’s Your Wedding Invitation Style?

Yes, you can have a traditional wedding invitation with timeless panache!

My mission is to create the essence of what will speak of you and your wedding.  With a little guidance I can cut through all the overwhelming possibilities and choice so that when you see my designs you’ll feel I’ve captured the spirit of your wedding.  This is one of my great strengths and a wonderful  reason to work with me on your wedding invitation suite.

Lets say that when we talk it becomes clear you’re looking for something traditional that is sleek – more geometric than floral.  You don’t want an invitation that could have been made a hundred years ago – you’re not thinking retro or vintage – but you want to keep to the conventions.  Your style is updated traditional.

Here are two different suites that fit your bill – they are inspired by a mod and art deco style, but take on a flair of their own:

a geometric wedding invitation suite inspired by Art Deco style

As you can see, this isn’t vintage but has all the elements of a traditional wedding invitation design and modern pizzazz.

Of course it’s fun to give a vintage or retro feel – it’s all about the look you want to achieve.  With some tweaks, my second treatment is contemporary with a hint of Art Deco flavor:

A modern take on Art Deco wedding invitation suite

An added boon is that these wedding invitation suites suit gay weddings too.  Many of the less-traditional wedding invitations out there are not going be right for two chaps getting married (as wedding invitations tend to lean towards a feminine style).  That’s not to say men don’t have more personal style wedding invitation ideas – stay tuned for a blog post on that.

Getting to the heart of your style can be overwhelming – but I can help make sure that you have the wedding invitation that epitomizes your celebration.

The Importance of the Right Color Palette

This past week color palettes have been on my mind.  The decorator Miles Redd was on The Washington Post for its online decorating hour.  Color featured a lot and he had this important thing to say:

Q.USING COLOR:Welcome Miles! I’m so excited about your new book! I’ve noticed that many of your rooms use really bold colors, often in unusual combinations. That can be tough to pull off though, and I’m wondering if you have some advice about choosing color combinations that are daring, but not clashing. Thanks!
A.MILES REDD : People always say that, but really, my color choices are not so bold- all you have to do is look in nature. The most interesting combinations already exists – acid green lichen on grey/brown bark, a monarch butterfly wing- and all the flora and fauna of the ocean….It is all there!

This got me thinking about color palettes – in fact, color palettes in nature.  Yesterday I visited Shanendoah National Park’s Skyline Drive.  The weather was sunny, the light fantastic, the fall foliage phenomenal.  It as an intoxicating combination of harmony and vibrancy.

We saw color on a broad canvas, taking in a whole mountainside:

fall leaves
Color was also a close experience, full of wonderful scents and glorious combinations – reds, yellows, greens, browns – all against the backdrop of a brilliant blue sky.
fall leaves with sky
yellow fall leaves against blue sky
We can take color cues from nature – not only this glorious fall foliage but also flowers, rocks, shells, oceans and their changing landscape over the season – the combinations are staggeringly endless.  At the same time, there’s what I’d call a manmade palette.  We associate red and green with Christmas and the holidays for example.  Political parties do this all the time – and companies brand and trademark their color – we all recognize Tiffany blue and people make whole palettes around it!
I recently made a birthday card that was a gift at the same time for my divine grandmother-in-law.  It’s an invitation to a Mexican restaurant we all love.  If I’d used a purple and green it wouldn’t have had the right visual vocabulary – they’re not the colors people expect when they think of Mexican images.
birthday dinner invitation
Choosing the right color palette is integral to the success of a graphic design.  Let me help you make the best choice as you create your own personal color palette.

How to Choose a Graphic Designer

Choosing a graphic designer can be overwhelming – a simple web search can leave you reeling and more confused.  Here are a few tips to help you select a graphic designer with whom you’ll be thrilled.

Recommendations: Word of mouth recommendations are the best.  Friends and business acquaintances will give you a good starting point.

Is the graphic designer’s style your vibe: Although a graphic designer should be versatile, you will know to which style you’re drawn.  Spend some time with online portfolios of those you admire to get a feel for their work.  If you’re seeking someone to design a logo or an wedding invitation, don’t just look at these areas of the portfolio.  Consider all the designs as well as the website itself.  This will give you a good idea of the strengths and weaknesses of the the designer and help you choose the person with the right design approach.

Your Voice: Your graphic design should articulate who you are – not speak of the graphic designer’s style.  How much versatility do you see in a particular graphic designer’s portfolio?  If all the designs have a particular stamp then you won’t get a design that speaks of who you are and tells your story.

Rapport: Your graphic design will represent you: branding, an invitation, a logo.  It is important that you feel comfortable with the person who is going make something that is in essence intimate to your voice.  A good graphic designer is able grasp your vision and articulate that in the design.  This requires good communication.

Process: Make sure you understand what the graphic designer is offering and what to expect.  How many designs will be prepared for your consideration?  Will there be any research planned?  What is the provision for edit rounds of the design?  It’s important there are no misunderstandings.  Don’t forget what you want from the process – do you want to be involved or not, for example?

If you break down finding a graphic designer into such manageable steps you’ll find you have a rewarding partnership with the designer you choose.

Think I might be a good fit for your next graphic design project? Contact me.

Branding & Marketing: Design and text work together for maximum impact

It is easy to forget that graphic design and the written word should be considered in tandem.  To gain maximum impact when embarking on a new webpage, brochure – or any other other type of branding material – the graphic design and the text should be dance partners.

All too often the graphic designer and the artist are not choreographing together.  This is a mistake as the final product will not reach its full potential punch.  Quite a while back my colleague and I wrote a history of The George Washington University’s Business School for its seventy-fifth anniversary.  I researched and wrote on this project but I also found all the visual material for the graphic designer and brainstormed with him about it.

This history was a glossy, short book.  Its import for the Business School, and why it was commissioned, had a strong marketing component. While still a serious history, that informed the book’s tone and audience.

A top rule in branding is: know your audience and know your purpose.  It’s imperative to address for your audience in language they grasp and a tone which will grasp their interest.  To that end, I found it useful to have something visual to articulate the major topics and themes in a chapter.  Using a key document for the Business School as background behind a chapter title became a signpost.  It sets up the Chapter before the reader begins.

Origins Letter

You can see the handwriting in this document creates a harmonious visual and the words themselves give interesting information.
1950s Business School Students

The same purpose holds of the photo at the start of another Chapter, this one about the Business School in the Nineteen Fifties.  The lively, upbeat photo also sets the tone and expectations for the reader – guiding your audience.

You want your audience to connect in a very personal way – to feel an affinity.  I accomplished this by inserting, as part of the graphic design, important or humorous anecdotal stories.  This didn’t interrupt the historical narrative but gave snapshots that help the audience engage, keep their attention and give them a bite sized piece of information to take way.  This is a way to make marketing or branding material resonate.

Business School History Text

In the following example, I found the text and the photo separately.  There’s a lot of background work that goes into making en effective final product look effortless.
Watergate Business History Text 1950s Business Students talking over drinks

This is how it looked on the page – it popped but was separate from the flow.Business School Textbook

Ultimately, of course, each project is different – but the goals are the same.  The anniversary history illustrates the depth of vision, thought, skill, and digging that I bring to a branding or marketing project.  I do all this with an eye to the visual and the words working together.  The graphic design and the text are two dancers.  They could be doing ballroom or maybe it’s a Latin dance.  But this is a partnered dance – the graphic design and the visuals need to dance together.

Tapping into your look

People often find it hard to articulate what epitomizes them visually speaking.  I have one client who really values my skills in this area.  I’m always happy for clients to be as little or as much involved in the process as they wish.  This client wants to be able to hand over to me her holiday card or invitation and not have to think about it, knowing it’s in good hands.  She’s thrilled when a quick verbal sketch of the vision she has in mind comes back ‘better than I could have imagined’, as she put it once.

One of the things I offer is a knack for tapping into what sort of look will suit you and your style.  Let me give you some insight into my process.  Recently I designed this card for a wedding  shower:

Love & lily of the valley card

I specifically wanted it reflect the ‘traditional but with a modern gleam-in-the-eye twist’ I saw in the bride.  This led me to choose that most sweet, beautiful and traditional of flower: lily of the valley.  It has many meanings, but my favorite is ‘return to happiness’.  I combined the curves of the flowers with a flowing, confident script for the word ‘Love’ – to underscore the traditional part of the card.

Turning to the modern twist, I portrayed the blooms, chose the colors and made the overall design with a modern eye.  I wanted to make sure the card had nothing in common with a sentimental Victorian card.

Modern Eye Victorian Card

This is one example of how I create a design that will speak to you and of you.  Let me help you create the vision that epitomizes your occasion and your style.

In my next blog post I will discuss doing this for an organization – branding.