Illustration and packaging have always gone hand in hand. By their very nature, paintings of animals and flowers are decorative as well as informative.
This blog sets out to show some of the diversity of packaging my illustrations have appeared on. I also hope to show how clever the designers are, and the difference you may see between an original illustration, and one on a final product.
Some of you may have ready my recent blog about the Swedish Flora margarine range.
This was a re-use of my existing botanical illustrations of clover in packaging design. The designers were very clever, if not botanically accurate. Imperceptibly, they used the white clover leaves with the pink clover flower-head.
Original clover illustration
Flora tub with rounded white clover leaves alongside the Trifolium pratense leaflets.
Sometimes the illustration is used very small. This was the case for the packaging of the Romano tomato range by ICA supermarkets in Sweden. My illustration of the White-tailed bumble bee, Bombus leucorum features.
White-tailed bumble bee Bombus leucorum
You may have to look closely to spot it on the packaging below! When you license your illustrations for packaging, you no longer have any say in how the illustration is used, unless you stipulate this in your contract. I didn’t object to this usage at all, although I slightly wish they hadn’t removed the poor bee’s legs.
On a smaller scale, my illustrations for the Hedgerow Handbook by Adele Nozedar were recently used on her beautiful foraged gin labels. She only made 200 bottles. It sold out almost instantly and was delicious. I loved the way my illustrations complimented the subtle colour of the gin.
Hedgerow Handbook Gin by Adele Nozedar with my sketchbook behind.
Sometimes I’ll sort out the business side of licensing an illustration for packaging, but never see it on the product. This happened recently with Lerøy Seafood. They’re a well-established Swedish company, and I was only too happy to license my hen salmon illustration for use on their packaging. To date, I’ve not seen it in context. It’s possible I’ve not been looking in the right places. I hope they will use the illustration some day, after all, they paid for the right to do so!
One of my most enjoyable (and challenging) recent commissions was to illustrate a series of animals for Spot Farms pet food packaging. I plan to write a blog about it pretty soon, I’ll keep you posted.
This involved creating a series of illustrations which stood alone, and which worked as a set for the Wild Shreds brand of pet foods.
Below is the packaging (illustrations copyright Spot Farms 2019).
And here is the original of the White-tailed deer. As you can see, the packaging hasn’t tweaked or altered the original illustration much at all.
It’s interesting, the designer I collaborated with was certain about what he wanted. This meant lots of alterations in the early stages, but no major alterations once the final illustration was delivered.
White-tailed deer (copyright Spot farms 2019)
Not long ago, my botanical illustration of hops was used on a mug produced by Mugly. It was a straight re-use of an existing illustration, but was a treat to see my illustration used in this context. This is the illustration of the hop plant, Humus lupulus.
Below is a promotional photo of the mug, taken from the Mugly Love website.
One of the first packaging design jobs I got was a couple of decades ago. I worked on the illustrations for a series of mugs showing the wildlife of different continents. I enjoyed the work immensely and the series of six mugs (produced by Dunoon Ceramics) were in circulation for quite a few years.
Here is the artwork for the North American mug.
And below you can see it in context, on the mug.
Packaging Design: Mock-ups
Many years ago, I wanted my illustrations to be used in packaging. Things have changed now, but back then I’d not been fortunate enough to have my work appear on labels.
I followed advice from some industry advisers, and mocked up a few products. If you do this, as an aspiring illustrator, be certain to make it crystal clear that these are only mock-ups, and not the product as it actually is. You need to be sure you stay clean and don’t end up infringing anyone’s copyright by mistake.
Mock up of Herbal tea
Mock-up of Talcom powder packaging
Packaging mock-up: Gift wrap
The most successful of these mock-ups didn’t involve dropping my illustrations into anyone else’s product. I popped lots of my illustrations onto sheets of wrapping paper. Ihope that someday someone might decide they like the look of this gift wrap, and produce it commercially. I’d take enormous pleasure in wrapping birthday presents in sheets printed with my own beetle, flower, or butterfly illustrations.
Over the years, my illustrations have been used in lots of different packaging projects. Frequently it’s re-use of existing illustrations. Sometimes it’s new work, especially commissioned for that job. However it appears, I always find it exciting and fascinating to see my work in a totally new context. It’s certainly something I’d like to do more of, even if it doesn’t mean I get my illustrations onto wrapping paper!