30 September 2013

Listen to advice given : post GTS activities

It's been a while now since the GTS finalist were announced and with it the jury's review of the finalists' work as well as some tips for the one who didn't make it to the next round. Me included in the later group, although I see the semifinals as a huge success for my work (being in top 50 out of 1500 submission – not bad, not bad at all). Anyway, all this time my mind has been going back to the jury's comments. The problem was that I really liked and still like my submission to the semifinals and wasn't immediately receptive to the advice offered. Check the jury's comments and the finalists' work out on Lilla's blog.

I know that wise people listen to wise people. And the GTS jury is certanly a bunch of highly knowledgable people from the licensing market. The market I'm aiming at. Am I going to be a fool to reject that kind of input? Shouldn't I be smart enough to listen to an insider tip? Well, I consider myself to be a bright lady, so I decided to go for it. Let's do another work listening to the jury's advice. I'm doing it just for myself. To learn something, to grow. You know how often we nod with our head in sign of understanding when somebody offers us an advice or know-how? The advice easily gets lost if not used. It all sinks in at the moment when we start using the advice. That's why I decided to do it. To let the knowledge get stuck on me.

One thing I made clear to myself imediately – it's not going to be a redesign of the existing design, it has to be a new concept yet true to my own style. It's not about being a copycat. It's about building the tips into my style and creating a more market oriented product.

Let's start. The assignment was to create a Farmer's Market Autumn Tote Bag. I'll be going through the jury's tips not in the order given, but in the order relevant to the process of creating the concept and design for the tote.  A short note: I changed from apples to pumpkins and kept a similar color code to my old tote.

1.     Try to make your work stand out from what is in the market already. Truly challenge yourself to be unique in style.
2.     Rember your audience's age. What style would most appeal toyour clients's cutomer? I would add, always keep the target market in mind.
3.     Think about the overall composition. Totes are meant to be fun and simple.

Here's what I did: I upgraded my little ladies, better said, one of them grew up quickly into a sexy farmer's daughter. Obviously inspired by the vintage pin-up girls. I added the sexy factor for the more grown-up population, taking the design above the teenager audience, yet staying true to my style and being cute. Btw. she has a top on, but the purple pumpkin was placed on purpse this way to leave different kind of interpretations open.

4.     Simplify. Don't make it too busy for something like a tote bag. This particular assignment naturally called for a strong central image. It's more than obvious that I missed the brief completely with my old design. Too much going on without a centrale image. O.k. I corrected that in this new design.  The farmer's daughter is the focal point of my design, while everything else builds around her creating a coherent composition.
5.     Get words involved; they're the secret weapon of great illustration. In the new design I concentrated much more at the hand lettering (in my own way of course). I used ambiguous wording – Autumn Beauty, refering to the girl as well to the fruits of Autumn. The inscription on the blue pumpkin can also be read as the pumpkins being all natural as well as the farmer's daughter. Plastic surgery free.
6.     Put a LOT of effort in it. I did, taking care of each detail, pumpkin, tattoo,...

7.     Create a picture that shows a little 'narrative nano-second' – a moment that has sense of timing. It's better than a scene that is just standing still. That's why I created the mouse and cat scene. I put the action into the background not to override my focal point. Initially there were also some snails involved on the blue pumpking, but I left them out not to make it too bussy – see topic 4.

8.     Use your imagination to create a unique way of showing an idea or telling a story. I think I covered this topic by using my pin-up farmer's daughter.

I didn't use any structures on the surfaces, I know it's trendy right now, but it just isn't me. I like simple, yet clever and effective things. Contemporary and clean design with a strong storytelling component.

At the end, I must admit that I really really like the new design. It does work better on a tote.

What do you think? Let me know.

Going through my GTS round 2 files I also discovered these two totes I created after submitting my design with the pattern. I obviously also felt the urge to put less on it. I just extracted 2 characters and let them on their own.


  1. Wow Antonija! What an interesting post and what a lot of work you've done, and just how much have you learnt!!

    I really like and admire how you've processed the judges comments and put them into your new design, I think it works so well and as lovely as your submitted design was in my opinion your new one is streets ahead. I love the orange of her hair and how you've used it against the other colours. I think the banner works particularly well and the whole composition is very strong.

    Just goes to show, as you said, it's all very well taking note of the advice from those more experienced you have to put it into practice to really learn what they're talking about.

    Big congratulations!

    1. Dear Anne, thanks for stopping by and actually reading this lengthy post. I must say that I surprised myself with the outcome of this little experiment of mine. This only proofs Lilla's words: Your art isn't finite. Reworking the GTS tote has awaken so many new ideas and concepts in me, although I wasn't sure how to start it at the beginning for I really liked the submitted tote. Life is full of surprises!

  2. You really committed yourself to the learning process and it shows! Bravo! Love everything about this new design: the story line, the design, the colors...Great job! This is how we will all succeed in the end: by staying true to our style and incorporating the lessons and never, ever giving up. Awesome!

    1. Thanks Jane for your support. I completely agree with you. The only way to go forward is to keep on learning and stretching. That's why I posted this story to show how it always pays out at the end to keep on pushing.

  3. Wonderful Antonjia! I love hearing about your process and the way you've taken the judges comments to rework your tote. I love the new design, the pin up girl is a great focal point. Congratulations!

    1. Jennifer, nice to here that you like the new design. I do too. Although, at first, I thought that the first entry is the best it gets. Well, I just showed myself that I can be wrong to.

  4. Great work, Antonija! I am really impressed at your dedication to making the best product possible - many people would read the judges' words and they'd go in one ear and right out the other. The fact that you really listened and applied their feedback proves you are serious about your craft. And I think your final tote(s) turned out really lovely! I did like your first rendition - but you're right - I think the new one is much more appropriate for a tote bag. And I love the little details and pops of color - well done!

    1. Thanks a million Emily. I really appreciate you seeing it the way I intended it to be. I still love my first tote, really do, and would never give up on it. It's merely a thing of taking another approach. And yes, at first I had to struggle with my own artistic ego in order to learn to listen to the jury's tips. I'm new to the licensing business, so that makes me a little bit more open to suggestions. I don't think that this new tote would have brought me to the finals, it never was about that.
      Btw. I wish you the best in the finals. Can't wait to see what you created for the new brief. Curiosity killed the cat. Meow!

  5. You got a really useful blog I have been here reading for about an hour. I am a newbie and your success is very much an inspiration for me.

    License & Brand Licensing Europe