Art Direction: Playing with Paper

Art direction is an important part of our branding process and integral to a consistent visual identity and tone-of-voice. We raid our archives!

By Cat HowPosted in Ideas

We love designing but, given half a chance, we also love to style stuff too. Art direction is the technical term - and involves someone managing a team of designers, or designer, on a creative project.

These projects can be quite wide ranging - from photoshoots and food styling to editorial layouts and theatrical prop displays. As well as the subject matter varying, so too can the degree of responsibility and autonomy involved in the project itself.

Art direction is an important part of our branding process. We always offer brands we work with advice on how to style any future company photography, for example, as it is so integral to a consistent visual identity and tone-of-voice.

So we thought we’d share some work we did with talented art director and now highly accomplished food photographer, Luke Albert, on some styling we did a few years back for an ecommerce design shop called Howkapow.

Howkapow was a colourful online store which sold the work of independent designer-makers. It was founded by me (actually) and my husband Rog before we set up Polleni. At the shop’s peak it was named the "Best Online Shop For Stylish Homewares" by The Guardian as well as one of the “Top Ten Online Design Shops” by The Sunday Times. But when we had our second child, we decided to call it a day - and sold it back in 2017.

Before that, though, we had lots of fun with it. We stocked thousands of products online (housing them in our warehouse in downtown Bristol), and generated an amazing amount of daily content on our social channels. We knew product styling with a humorous edge was a great way of engaging with our customers who tended to be fun-loving females - and we liked being playful too.

When Luke approached us about collaborating on a series of paper-cut scenes that would show off our most popular products (we sold literally hundreds of that Dog Lamp by Matt Pugh) we jumped at the chance.

We worked with Luke to create a series of whimsical scenes, which reinforced the shop’s brand values of confidence and fun, as well as our brand colour of ‘blue’.

We wanted to use the photoshoots to showcase some of the products we had also made in collaboration with other designers and illustrators - things like our Fox Tray and Sausage Dog and Roast Dinner Tea Towels.

Movement and life were very important when we story-boarded the scenes and decided how the products were going to be styled. We wanted the photographs to capture the confidence and frivolity of the products they were showcasing. This was a ‘Best Of’ - so they needed to show off a bit!

Then, when all was styled and set up, proper lighting and camera quality were key. Finally, super-sharp Photoshop retouching skills were needed, of which Luke was amazing at. We had a laugh and we think the photos are testament to that. Long live a bit of fun!

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