I've done a bunch of commercial illustration projects over the years. My most recent gig was with the Hudson Valley Seed Library, which gathers, sells, and promotes heirloom and open-pollinated seeds. They have an amazing and unique program where they commission artists to create a work of art based on a particular heirloom plant... which will then become the design for that plant's seed pack. "Plant the seeds, frame the art" is their motto. Needless to say, I was thrilled to be chosen to design a seed pack.
First I sent them a few jpegs of my work and the link to my website. Then I was asked to submit sketches for two different plants, piracicaba broccoli and lovage. After gathering images online to figure out exactly what these plants were, I used their template to make sketches of how the seed packs would look. Once I did the broccoli sketch and moved on to lovage, I could literally feel the gears turning in my head, the creative juices flowing, the idea coming fast and furious. It was an amazing rush! So I ended up submitting 1 sketch for the broccoli and 3 different ones for lovage:
Yum! Look at the amazing diversity of shapes and colors. And of course the mythological component of Isis, the Egyptian winged goddess, was right up my alley.
I made three sketch proposals. These two were not chosen:
And this was the winning one (with the caveat that the chickadee would become a scarlet tanager, both to echo the colors in the tomatoes and to call attention to the fact that it is endangered in the Hudson Valley):
Then I turned that sketch into a watercolor:
Which is now this seed pack:
Which you can find and purchase at this link.
Needless to say, it's a huge mental shift to go from making work for a gallery show, which is entirely of my own creation and direction, to making work in collaboration with an art director, who guides the creative process and makes a series of suggestions and changes along the way. There were definitely moments in this process that were challenging, simply because, as anyone who knows me can tell you, I do not like being told what to do. Ha! But this turned out to be a true growing experience (pun intended), since my work got pushed in new directions by virtue of the art director's input. It also brought me right back to art school, where I had an assignment to complete, and I had to do it within someone else's constraints. New ideas, new directions, a fresh set of eyes: I'll take all those good things any day.