Process // Of Air And Earth

It can be tricky taking on friends as business clients. You need to navigate making them happy while holding to best practices. You need to listen to their needs and wants while supporting their ideas with your knowledge about good design. You want to give advice without being overbearing.

Fortunately, when Alexa approached me about her venture with Of Air And Earth, what I found was a perfect example of how this working relationship could go beautifully.

I've known Alexa for a number of years. She has been a mentor and a friend, someone whose work I've looked up to and whose sensibilities I admire.

Visually, she knows what's up.

Alexa told me about project she had recently undertaken: creating arrangements of air plants, gemstones, and found vessels. Her creations were beautiful. She showed me some photos from her brand new Instagram account and we talked about some ideas for her logo and branding.

She had decided on a name: Of Air And Earth.
I doodled it about 800 times.

I asked Alexa to put together a Pinterest board of images that somehow get at the vibe she wanted reflected in her branding. Here is a sample of what she gathered:

These captured a lot of what I already knew about Alexa's aesthetic: classy antiques mixed with modern elements, plus lots natural elements, pops of color, and variations in texture. Over a delicious sushi lunch, we unpacked some of these elements and Alexa provided me with some language and guidance. Some keywords I jotted down included: elegant, Santa Monica, sort-of boho, muted, prism.

This pretty much captures the puzzle I had to solve. Alexa is tasteful and thoughtful and knows what looks good, but she's not a designer. It was up to me to figure out how these images and words from her brain would translate into a tangible design package.

I started with some color choices:

Then I played with shapes and layouts and various design elements, knowing that none of these would actually stick. I sent over these initial concepts:

In this first round, I wanted to give Alexa a lot of variety, so I played with type, drawn graphics, watercolor, and photographic elements. Now it was up to her to identify details she liked or didn't like.

She settled on a favorite, and I got to work customizing the pieces. Alexa would need a logo, a square business card, a sticker, and a banner for web stuff.

I did, and we got down to the nitty gritty, mostly around type and color balance.

This, this or this? These or these? Here are only a handful of the varieties I sent over:

Alexa sought her second and third opinions, and we finalized her new designs!

I'm really happy with the outcomes. Here is the completed logo, business card, the sticker, banner, and the care card that will come with each purchase of an air plant:

I love that Alexa wasn't afraid of the playful but muted color choices. She really liked the navy blue background, which looks awesome in print, too. This was my first time playing with patterns much in Illustrator; the overlapping circles reflect vibe from some of the rugs and tiles from the original Pinterest board. I'll be excited to practice with this tool more for future projects.

Alexa didn't waste any time while I was tinkering with vectors. Her designs are already for sale on her Etsy shop and IRL at Weavers Way Mercantile in Mt. Airy.

And she has these fancy printed materials to show, too :)

Congratulations to Alexa on starting her small business! This was a fun project for a dreamy client. I'm excitedly following along on her Instagram account and plotting which air plant design I'll pick out for myself and my favorite people soon.