When three-time Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter/poet/actress Jill Scott collaborated with Mahogany on a new line of cards and gifts, Hallmark built a collection of new, proprietary artwork for her designs. Designer Marcos R. tells us how he inspired a group of artists, writers and illustrators to create dozens of original patterns.
Before we got started on her collection, Miss Scott met with the Mahogany team to create a mood board to express her style. She choose colors, illustrations, textures, patterns—everything. I love her bold and bright aesthetic.
We invited our creative team of illustrators, designers, lettering artists and writers to a pattern-making workshop to create new designs for her cards. I had Miss Scott’s music playing in the room. I knew she was a singer and songwriter, but working on this project, I found out she’s a poet and an actress who’s been on Broadway and television. She does everything.
Designing a pattern-making workshop
To get people started, I had a dozen prompts based on Miss Scott’s mood boards—suggestions to try drawing gemstones, hair textures, continuous lines, rhythmic lines. Think “boom boom bam.” And icons: musical instruments, city buildings, hearts, feathers.
Prompts can help you move outside the usual designs you gravitate towards. I gave the artists other challenges, too, like turning the paper, doing solids versus outlines, and varying the scale and size.
For every prompt, the artist filled a page of thumbnails. No refining or cleaning up—that’s for later.
We spent the morning working in black and white—because it’s easy to digitize—with a lot of different tools. Along with traditional brushes and pens, we had a collection of unusual tools like tree branches, forks and spoons, and oversized sticks to make your hand move differently.
Choosing favorite designs
We worked all morning, and then hung everything up on the walls and windows—there were so many designs we ran out of space.
Everybody picked their two favorite patterns to execute at a large scale and in color.
Nothing goes to waste. The rest will be used for other Mahogany products, or saved to artists’ personal collections.
Creating full-scale designs
As the day went on, we moved from simpler designs to more complex patterns. In the afternoon, we worked with the bold colors from Miss Scott’s palette.
The patterns show up all through her collection. We use them in designed envelope liners, and some of them are featured on the inside of the cards. We scanned in some illustrations, too—there’s a Philadelphia skyline from the workshop on one of her cards.
At first, it was a little bit of a challenge working with someone long distance. But she’s been a great collaborator since the beginning—and with every season we do, we get to know Miss Scott and her style better and better.
She has really great taste, as you can see by the final results:
See how the patterns Marcos and his team created in the workshop translated to the Jill Scott Collection for Mahogany in stores or at Hallmark.com.
Photographer: Jane Kortright