The day before Thanksgiving last year I was sitting at my sister-in-law’s kitchen counter when Kristin sent me an email with a brilliant idea. “What if we had a graphic designer on staff? Someone we could work with us on an ongoing basis. Maybe we contract with them for a certain number of hours each month?”
Great images are a must, especially for a website that’s made for people working in a highly visual industry like craft. Having someone at the ready to create printables and graphic elements for the site and for every issue of the digital Journal? That would truly be ideal.
As the idea for Craft Industry Alliance began to coalesce we realized that we actually needed to create two different kinds of visuals: illustrations and graphic design. Luckily we found just the right people to work with.
When it came to illustrations we knew we wanted to use hand drawn elements. After all, making things with our hands, and helping other people to enjoy doing the same, is something that unites all of us as craft business owners. For these we turned to Nicole Stevenson. You might know Nicole as the co-creator of Craftcation, an annual craft and business conference in Ventura, California, and Patchwork Show, a craft show that takes place in several sites in Southern California. A craft industry professional herself with many years of experience vending at and producing shows, Nicole understood our vision for Craft Industry Alliance immediately and was excited to work with us.
We began to hone our vision for our logo and branding by creating a secret Pinterest board where we could collect images that appealed to us including color palettes, interiors (it turned out that Kristin and I share a love of mid-century modern furnishings), logos, and fonts. Nicole used the images on our board as a jumping off point for creating preliminary drawings for our logo.
Nicole’s style is perfectly imperfect. It’s warm, approachable, and pretty and we were very pleased with the logo designs she presented. We decided to go with a set of tools – a pencil, a pen, a paintbrush, a crochet needle, a knitting needle, a seam ripper – that would represent craft overall. They’re crossed to show our hope for a unified organization of craft industry professionals. We asked Nicole to create both a horizontal and a vertical version of the logo to be used in different contexts both in print and on the web.
Later, once the site was built, Nicole also drew our portraits for the About page and created a series of hand drawn elements for the homepage. She’ll continue to work with us illustrating many of the Journal articles and the printables that will accompany them as Craft Industry Alliance moves forward.
Along with the hand-drawn logo and illustrations, Kristin and I also needed to hire a graphic designer who could help us design the website, create print assets such as business cards and postcards, and design the digital Journal cover and inside pages. For those tasks we turned to Lindsie Bergevin. I knew Lindsie because she and I have been working together this year to redesign the layout of my sewing patterns. Lindsie has extensive experience in graphic design, not only for patterns but also in magazine and book layout. She began by creating a beautiful postcard for us, which Kristin took with her to QuiltCon in February to help create some early buzz about our new venture.
“Every good business starts with effective branding, and establishing the Craft Industry Alliance visual identity was key to making the end product – the website – work well,” Lindsie says. “We took inspiration from vintage handmade items, and tried to communicate a fresh, established, and hand-touched quality to the branding. Incorporating Nicole’s hand-drawn illustrations into the logo, marketing pieces and throughout the site really helps achieve this goal.”
Web design is an area that is newer to Lindsie’s skill set, but she showed a willingness to learn on the job and to work hard to help master a site as complex as ours. The first step was to choose the right WordPress theme. “We used Elegant Theme’s Divi theme. It is a powerful, flexible theme that gives us a huge amount of control over the design of each part of the site, allowing us to develop different layouts and structure for the blog, for the digital Journal, the homepage, etc.” Lindsie made great use of the Divi theme’s functionality, creating the beautiful and intuitive skin we see.
Building Craft Industry Alliance has been a team effort from the start and we are fortunate to have worked with such talented, responsive, and friendly designers. We look forward to continuing the collaboration as we open the doors and begin building community.