Crate & Barrel Mother's Day Teacup Process

Recently I had the privilege of working with Bonnie Cauble from Crate & Barrel on a Mother's Day teacup. It was a really fun project and I want to share some of the drawings behind the final artwork. I began working on this on July 25, 2013, knowing that it would be released for Mother's Day, 2014. The teacup is part of a series of limited edition Mother's Day cups by various artists. I had a few days to do the whole thing, from start to finish. Luckily it was a pretty straightforward project. Bonnie's only direction for me was "It has to say Mom!" No art director has ever give simpler instructions. She sent me a template for the cup and saucer, and I started with some sketching. We agreed to work on the cup first, and once the direction was chosen, I would work on the saucer. Here are the initial drawings for the cup:

Sketch #1

Sketch #2

Sketch #3

As you can see, we didn't have time to do 50 drawings. We were working quickly and there wasn't much conceptual work to be done. Mainly, I wanted the typography to be strong and feminine, something that would appeal to mothers. After looking at the first limited round of sketches, Bonnie thought that Sketch #2 was the best direction for the teacup. She wanted to remove the large spaces between the letters M-O-M so that the word MOM could be read all at once on one side of the cup. Here is the revised drawing following the changes:

Revised artwork drawn on a light table with a Micron Pen.

Following the style of the lines on the cup, I set about creating the artwork for the saucer. The little heart in the middle is meant to offer a pleasant surprise after the cup is lifted. 

Original Scan of the saucer artwork. 

I knew I wanted the final artwork to retain a hand-drawn style, so I never planned on creating sharp-edged type and lines. Instead, I scanned the pen drawings at a very high resolution and then used livetrace in Adobe Illustrator. The artwork had to be in a vector format according to the specifications. I presented three variations of the final artwork, which you can see below. 

Final Option #1: Retain pen outlines in black.

Final Option #2: Reverse pen artwork to fill in the letters with black.

Final Option #3: I added a light blue/green as a two-color option.

Bonnie decided she liked option #2 the best, so that ended up being the final artwork. I passed along the digital files and the good people at Crate&Barrel handled the production. I don't usually work on these types of projects, and waiting 8 months just to see the final product was unusual. I am very pleased with the final result. One surprise that I didn't know about was the packaging. The cup is packaged in a round wooden box, similar to a small hat box. Below you can see images of the final cup along with the entire series. 

I'd like to offer a special thanks to the three most important mothers in my life. My beautiful wife Alisha, my own mother Cindy, and my mother-in-law Linda. Thank you for all that you have each done for me! If you would like to purchase one of the teacups, head over to Crate&Barrel.

Porter Flea Holiday Market

I'm pleased to announce that I'll be selling my original posters and t-shirts at the Porter Flea Holiday Market at Track 1 in Nashville this Friday, December 6th and Saturday, December 7th. The event will feature over 85 of the region’s best designers of modern handmade apparel and accessories, home goods, furniture, jewelry, and paper goods. Porter Flea is without a doubt the best handmade market I have ever seen. If you're in the Nashville area, please visit!