Invitation design: Watercolor theme

Back in September 2015, one of my dearest friends back in Boston contacted me about doing invitations for her oldest daughter’s bat mitzvah in November of the following year, for Parashat Lech Lecha.

Maya is a budding artist, and the celebration was going to have an art theme. In March 2016 they sent me a draft of Maya’s design concept (shown right; click to enlarge). It’s always helpful to have a client with such a clear vision of what they’d like to achieve! 

I advised that gold lettering was going to be hard to produce: there’s no such thing as metallic ink, so it has to be done with foil stamping, which is pricey for custom text and basically impossible for short-run digital printing. Apart from that detail, I took this concept and turned it directly into a 5.5×8.5″ layout using Adobe InDesign. Rather than use solid color blocks, I incorporated a watercolor texture to soften the overall look and tie in with Maya’s hand-drawn feel. With a little back-and-forth to determine the exact color shades, we were good to go.

I picked an English script font called Bilbo which has been one of my favorites this year — it’s one of the few calligraphic typefaces that offers a set of plain capital letters as well as swash caps, so it can actually be used to set portions of text in ALL CAPS without destroying readability. The Hebrew font I chose to coordinate is called Shmulik CLM, a Unicode font available for free from the Culmus Project repository.

From there, it was easy to concoct a matching 4.25×5.5″ insert for Maya’s “art party” for her friends. For this piece, I used a livelier rainbow palette instead of the green/blue/purple, a more casual font called Bruno JB, and a free clipart photo of a paintbrush and palette to add some dimensionality. I then created two different RSVP cards, one just for the actual bat mitzvah service, and another for recipients invited to both the service and the party.

I also designed custom outer (6×9) and response (A2) envelopes using the same mint-green watercolor background and purple type as on the primary invitation. Lastly, I created a simple folded thank-you note — matching, yet versatile enough that if Maya has any left over, she’ll be able to use them indefinitely. See below for the final designs.

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I had all the components printed at VistaPrint, using their glossy postcards for the invitation cards: “oversized” for the primary invitation, “standard” for the party insert, both printed single-sided. For the RSVP cards, I used an uncoated 5.5″ x 4″ flat note card so that they could be written on.

One of the cool bells and whistles that Vistaprint offers on envelope printing is the ability to specify a “personalized security tint” using a custom line of text. Without telling my clients, I ordered the reply envelopes to say “Mazal Tov Maya!” on the inside. They didn’t notice right away, but when they were putting the mailing together, it was a fun surprise!

Anyway, so the big day finally came yesterday, and I am told it went beautifully all around. Mazal tov, Maya! and and may your artistic talents continue to enrich your Jewish adulthood.

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