Many of you will be aware that I've been working on a new project over the past couple of months and now that we're about ready to launch, I just wanted to take a moment to share the extraordinary amount of work that goes on behind the scenes...
These sorts of new projects start with a spark; a sudden inspiration that comes to me and that I just can't shake. The concept that grabbed me was that of the countryside. How I have longed to get back out into the fresh air and nature following the year of lockdowns. But me being Cocorose, my theme needed to be fabulous and fun, with a beautiful and meaningful message behind it all.
Firstly, I created a design brief for the project, which was to produce a set of 3 watercolour illustrations, focusing on three individual, countryside animals - a Hare, Fox and Bumble Bee - but to also include supporting elements (the accessories!) which would enhance and bring our animals to life. For my overall aesthetic, I wanted our animals to be sophisticated, striking, beautiful and proud... much like you lot of lovely Cocorosers!
Following all the research that I undertook to find my illustrator, I shared my design brief with Victoria Fitton, and after much chat and research about the look and feel I was after, she basically set to work drawing our animals.
Victoria started sketching with her trusty graphite pencils to build depth into the pictures and then moved onto the watercolour.
We wanted to create a feeling of loose watercolour and show the beautiful brush strokes and graphite pencil pulled through, to give that free-flowing and free-spirited feeling. It's all done by hand and eye - how much water, paint, etc and this 'wholesomeness' is part of the joy of original, hand-drawn watercolour illustrations.
We also wanted to detail areas in the illustrations to show the beautiful ombre effect, where the paints bleed into other colours and you can see some wonderful examples of this in the skies above the Hare and Fox.
And, if you look at the bodies of the Hare and Fox, for example, you'll see the gorgeous 'cauliflower effect' where the paints have so beautifully and freely blended with each other to create the soft edges and marks.
For me, I just love the little details that we have painstakingly thought about and captured. The long lashes of our Fox (honestly, you don't want to know the detail and discussions behind these lashes!), the shooting stars above the Hare, giving hope and optimism of brighter futures ahead and the beautiful, soft and delicate, translucent wings of the Bumble Bee. Little details, but so important when you're designing and creating a piece of art
Speaking of hope and optimism, we have all been through such a tough year, but one where I feel we have come to re-appreciate the little things in life. Kindess. Love. Togetherness. These little words mean so much and so, for our canvas bags, I printed these three little words onto the back of each bag, to remind us of how far we have come.
Artwork created, it was time to put these bags into production. I've been working with my mum and dad on this and they're making all the bags for us.
Many of you will know that my mum and dad's team are also making our face masks for us. From high end jewellery, they have flexibly adapted their business to ensure they continue to provide work for their entire team, many of whom have been with them for 40+ years. I greatly admire and respect their compassion, business acumen and 'just get on with it' attitude and this will, I am sure, see their way out of the covid situation.
We have spent hours and days sourcing the right, natural cotton canvas in terms of weight and durability and then working on the sizing and print.
We've been back and forth a few times with Victoria too, as once printed, the canvas absorbs the ink and at the beginning, the skies were just too light. We finally got the right paint density for our cotton canvas.
Every bag is hand-made and hand-stitched with a huge amount of care and attention. We've only got a very limited number to kick off our launch with, but if you're not lucky enough to get your hands on one of these, then rest assured that more will be coming soon! I also hope that we can extend our portfolio of animals very soon, so please do let me know if you have a favourite countryside animal and what we should focus on next!