Baby Shower Invitations
by Anne Kostecki
Hello and happy spring! I have two new projects that I've been working on that are both closely related. Why? They're both spring baby shower invitations...for me!
Yes, my husband and I are expecting are first baby! She's due (we found out her gender early) on August 30th, so I am about halfway through my pregnancy. So, since I live in Baltimore, and both my husband's and my family live in St. Louis, we plan our events carefully and purposefully. We decided early that we would plan both baby showers for each side of the family on the same weekend - one for Saturday, and one for Sunday. My mother and sister-in-law are hosting the one for my side of the family, and my husband's mother, sister, and his aunt are hosting the shower for his side of the family. Independently, both sides of our families decided to ask guests to bring their favorite children's books in lieu of cards, so I'm getting prepared for a library to come our way. It's going to be a packed weekend!
For my family's shower, my mother and sister-in-law chose a woodland fairy tale theme to fit our rental space - a private space called The Wine Room at the restaurant Bishop's Post. The space has painted green walls with beautiful large windows and brown moldings and trim, and warm orb lights on the ceiling. My family chose to decorate the space with pastel-colored florals, with vases filled with moss and enveloped in bright white fairy lights. The tables featured small fantasy figurines like unicorns, fairies, castles, and dragons in blues, pinks, and purples. So for the invitations, I gathered some inspiration from disparate sources: I really loved some mid-century illustration-style paintings I had found of mermaids, but I wanted to have some influences from the illustration style of Cicely Mary Barker and Kay Nielsen.
So I spent a long time trying to figure out the composition and placement of the fairy: I couldn't decide how stylized I wanted it to be. I used several reference drawings for the body position, wings, clothing, and facial features. I decided I wanted to use acrylic paint to achieve the highly textured look of the wings and the background. I ended up painting over my first try at the wings, and I was really thankful I used acrylic instead of watercolor. I kept the color palette cool to contrast the femininity of the fairy theme. I drew the lettering for the words "baby shower" and vectorized them, and decided to do the white envelopes in copper calligraphy to match the copper branches on the invitation. I'm happy to say I've never seen another baby shower invitation like it, and my guests all gushed over the fairy illustration and theme. I'm definitely going to spend more time practicing acrylic painting, since it's been several years since I've done it.
So once those invitations were stamped and in the mail, I got to work on the next invitation for the following day. My husband's family would be hosting the shower at his aunt's house, and his mother and sister would be helping with decorations and food. They envisioned a celestial-themed event with clouds of pink and gold. My mother-in-law had written a poem at the introduction of the invitation, and I decided it would be perfect for hand lettering. I sketched a symmetric composition of a script typeface with sweeping letters. I wanted to have a painted background of a pink hued sky, so I experimented with different techniques in watercolor.
I'm going to be honest with you. I struggled with the lettering piece: I spent a lot of time redrawing the sketch, making sure the thick and thin were both balanced. I knew that hand drawing the entire piece in Adobe Illustrator would have taken far too long, and so I used Image Trace, tweaking various parameters until I got something I liked. The problem with using Image Trace on hand lettering is that you will almost always get way too many anchor points, blobs, and other tiny little mistakes that you have to go in and correct by hand, but for something like this, it was way faster than drawing the whole thing with the Pen tool in Illustrator.
The first version of the invitation was something I rushed to get done, and it had a thicker tracing of the lettering, plus a darker pink background with all white lettering below. I wasn't happy after printing this version, so I quickly made some tweaks: thinning out the lettering, creating a gradient on the sky, lightening the pink, and reversing the type at the bottom so that it was dark pink rather than white. I made all of these edits in about half a day, so I don't have a printed version to show you, but believe me, my final version was a big improvement!
Lettering always takes me longer than I think it will. I'll budget an entire day for a project that consists of 4 lines of copy or less, and sometimes it won't be enough. I read about other designers and letterers who spend upwards of 20 hours on a lettering project, and my spirit drops. That sounds like an enormous quantity of work, even though it's necessary sometimes if you want quality results. It's not easy when you have a full time job, preparing for a new baby, and have other obligations (exercise, cooking, chores, car maintenance, etc.). But I have to look at my work schedule honestly, and say it's definitely possible. Many freelance designers have to work full time jobs and then come home and work another job's worth of hours just to get their freelance businesses off the ground. I admire those people, and I hope that I can achieve a work ethic like that.
Even though my husband claims I'm the hardest working person he's ever met (he is finishing his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Johns Hopkins University, and regularly works with people I can only assume work 800 hours per week), I always feel like I could be working harder. I suppose that is the curse of a Capricorn ENTJ (although I'm exactly split between an extrovert and introvert, which I just learned is called an "ambivert").
I feel so blessed to have had such wonderful baby showers. I appreciate all that my family and friends have done for me and our little one. And, I'm appreciative they let me design my own invitations (remember, a creative ENTJ...so I like to have my hand in any sort of design)! I can't wait for another opportunity to design more baby shower invitations. I'm looking at you, friends and family who have yet to have children!-AK