Client: Valerie Damen
Services Provided: Digital Illustration, Wholesale Merchandise
One of the most challenging tasks a designer faces is designing for themselves. Now I'm not referring to fun expressive works of art — those types of projects come naturally and are usually sparked by a random burst of inspiration. Rather, I'm talking about the daunting task of brand development for the designer themselves — creating imagery that authentically captures the essence, style, and market of the designer and their brand.
I faced two main challenges during the production of this project:
1. Having myself as the main client.
2. Figuring out conceptual imagery that would tell a story in a non-traditional way while still aligning with my personal style.
3. Finding an optimal balance between who I am as a person and the brand I sought to represent.
During my junior years, I probably redesigned my brand well over 5 times. My style was everchanging and I was constantly being inspired by other designer's brands, so naturally, I was never quite happy with my logo and accompanying graphics. Like so many struggles people have in finding love, I was always on this hunt to find "the perfect" brand — one that really represented me deep down. What I didn't realize back then during my junior design years, was that — again like love — I was searching for my brand in all the wrong places. I was asking questions like:
1. What do my clients want to see in my brand?
2. What are other successful brands doing and how can I replicate that in my own way?
3. How can I make my brand mainstream, yet eclectic at the same time?
When I look back on those times I think it's pretty funny that I can ask all the right questions when working on a brand for an external client and ace the outcome for that brand at first go, but when it came to designing for myself I was having such a hard time.
It wasn't until a few years ago that I finally discovered why I was unhappy with my brand. I realized that I was focusing on what I thought prospecting clients would be drawn to as well as what popular design trends were being used at the time — I subconsciously did this to lessen the fear of putting the mirror on myself and digging deep. For some reason, the thought of visually creating imagery that fully captured who I was as a professional and person, seemed daunting.
Once I realized this flaw in my own brand development, I decided to separate myself from the project and treated myself as I would any other client. I asked myself tough business questions and started the project off from scratch by diving into a giant brainstorm session. During that brainstorm, I learned a lot about myself and I had endless visuals to select from, but two keywords struck me most: Coffee and Pattern (coffee was the fuel that energized my creativity and pattern was a personal interest of mine since childhood). With these two words highlighted in my sketchbook, I immediately felt that I reached that "lightbulb" moment and sketches started flooding the paper. I toyed with patterns of lattes and coffee beans, but I wanted something more conceptual. I wanted something that told a story on a deeper level — that's when I came up with the idea of developing a coffee cherry pattern. When I finally was 100% happy with my brand's conceptual direction, I developed a series of pencil sketches and digitally brought those sketches to life using whimsical stylization and warm tones. I then took simplified portions of the artwork and integrated that into my logo.
The digitally illustrated coffee cherries were formatted into a seamless pattern that was printed on business cards, letterheads, banners, posters, postcards, magnets, wall clocks, and textiles.
Linesheets and catalogues are only available upon request. If you're interested in placing a wholesale order, please email me for inquiries.