I remember the very first design draft we ever received. It looked like a tablecloth pattern.
This wasn’t because the artist wasn’t talented but because we didn’t provide any clear guidance or creative direction as to what we were looking for. The artist (logically) assumed that we wanted a repeating pattern to use for a scarf.
After a little bit of back and forth, we received what was to become our “Reflections” scarf – which I consider one of the most beautiful and meaningful pieces in our collection. It just goes to show you the power of collaboration.
This experience taught us that we needed to be more clear about the purpose of the artwork and the kinds of elements it should to contain.
There is a fine line here though. We don’t want to impede an artist’s creative vision or constrain them in their work. After learning the hard way, we’ve created a process that we use for any new design or collection.
1) Identify a purpose: Do we want a scarf, pocket square, or necktie design? Some artists are a better fit for a certain kind of accessory.
2) Choose a fabric: Do we want something made from 100% silk, silk & wool, or modal & cashmere. Some fabrics don’t translate certain art styles and mediums as well as others.
3) Identify an artistic style: Do we want to work with an illustrator, a watercolor artist, or a digital artist? We need to be mindful of how an artist’s style will work with our desired fabric.
4) Identify artists: This is always the fun part. We get to research unique works from around the world through forums, interest groups, online portfolios, and word of mouth.
5) Provide a clear scope of work: We explain exactly what their artwork will be used for, be it a scarf, pocket square, or necktie. We give each artist the exact size requirements depending on the type of accessory.
6) Provide specifications: We explain that they should be mindful of the border, color placement, and proportions. We also send them photos of accessories worn in various ways to give them an idea of how these decisions will influence the aesthetics of the final product.
7) Ask for multiple concepts: We ask for at least 3 concept sketches for every single design. This allows us to better agree on a specific direction with each artist.
8) Review drafts: As an artist is fleshing out the final idea, he or she will often send us further drafts for review and perhaps for additional guidance. Our goal is to create a personal collaborative relationship with each artist, one where we can question, comment on, and even criticize each other’s ideas. We believe that the best results are always achieved through collaboration.
Following this process has led to a much more rewarding experience for everyone involved. Not only have we been able to arrive at concepts faster than in the beginning, but less time is wasted on reworks and edits because something wasn’t clearly communicated.