Day 31, 2011: Wrapping up 2011 at Hip Ink and The Invitation Blog

December 31, 2011 § 1 Comment

Whew…we made it. 31 posts in 31 days (again)!

But today is probably the most special of all, to me, because it’s the one where I get to share all the amazing things that happened in 2011, and how thankful I am for everyone who was (and continues to be) a part of our success and growth 🙂

First up, I want to thank you – yes *you* – all The Invitation Blog readers. In our first full year of blogging, our readership has grown by leaps and bounds, and I am so thrilled when a bride, a groom, a client, a fellow vendor or one of my stationery/design colleagues tell me that they found something useful/interesting/beautiful/controversial/funny (or just plain crazy) on the blog!

So, what happened at The Invitation Blog in 2011? Below, some comparisons and fun facts:

In 2010, there were 54 blog posts written. This is post #140 for 2011.

In 2010, we had 3,414 visits. In 2011 (so far) we’ve had almost 44,000.

In July 2010 (when I started The Invitation Blog), we had a total of 44 visits for the month. In November 2011, we had 4,414.

On our busiest day (April 24, 2011 – the date of the Royal Wedding) we had 339 views.

The most viewed blog post of the year was (not surprisingly) Prince William and Kate Middleton’s Royal Wedding Invitation: As Imagined by Hip Ink with 3,769 views (and yes, that’s more than we had for every post on this blog in 2010).

The most commented on blog post was Day 8: Why Are Wedding Invitations So [bleeping] Expensive?, from last years “31 Days” series, with 25 comments.

But numbers never really tell the full story, do they? The fact is that I’ve been as passionate about The Invitation blog from Day 1 and 0 views, to today, 18 months later and fast approaching 50,000. I never thought that writing a blog could be such a rewarding experience, but it has given me so much: a place to help brides and grooms navigate the sometimes crazy world of wedding stationery; a soapbox from which to air my views on invitations, stationery and weddings; and, a place to show off our recent work at Hip Ink.

Most of all, I’ve made so many great connections with other amazing people in the wedding industry – bloggers, designers, stationers, vendors – and that has been the most surprising and the most rewarding part of this blogging journey.

And of course, there is much more where that came from in 2012!

And what about Hip Ink?

SO much has happened in 2011 that looking back makes my head spin (and makes me feel incredibly lucky as well)! 2011 was the year I feel Hip Ink really came into its own – while for 5 years I had worked without advertising, without expanding, deliberately trying to keep things small, in 2011 I got the chance to dream big and make things happen that a few years ago I would have thought may never become a reality. So, indulge me if you will…

Here are some of the highlights of 2011:

Hip Ink evolved into Hip Ink Paper Co. – an umbrella brand that will very soon be home to a line of invitations for weddings and social events as well as some new stationery ventures. And of course, also home to Hip Ink Couture Invitations, the natural extension of the custom work I’ve been doing here at Hip Ink since 2006.

With that change, came a flurry of new branding etc., which will all be rolling out in January – including a brand new website, coming very, very soon.

We participated in four wedding shows, Mix Mingle Marry, The Hamilton-Halton Bridal Show, The Original Wedding Soiree and The Gay Wedding Show – this was my first year exhibiting, and what a great time we had! I could have never imagined the amazing things that came out of the relationships I began with both clients and vendors there (like this, and this!).

I had the chance to work with a number of great photographers, event pros and other fab vendors on styled photo shoots (some already published and a couple still to come!). I still find it so exciting, and I feel so honoured, to be asked to collaborate with my industry colleagues.

We were thrilled to be featured on a number of fabulous wedding blogs this year, including Style Me Pretty, 100 Layer Cake, Wedding Chicks and Invitation Crush, and featured on the Envelopments blog as well! Also honoured to become part of Wedluxe magazine’s “Glitterati“, and super-excited to have one of our designs showcased in a full-page feature in Toronto Life Weddings 2012 edition (more on that to come!).

Best of all though, I had the chance to work with amazing couples to create unique and personal invitations that wowed their wedding guests (and bar/bat mitzvah guests, shower guests…the list goes on!). I am blessed to have the chance to work with so many great clients, and I am honoured to be allowed the opportunity to be part of their big day!

And my shout-outs for 2011? Let’s Talk Stationery and Twitter (yes, really, Twitter). These two mediums have allowed me to connect with so many great designers, stationers, wedding pros and industry peeps over the past year – I can honestly say I wouldn’t be where I am right now, dreaming big dreams for 2012, without the support of these folks. Never underestimate the power of the internet 😉

Wow – so much rambling on “looking back” that I have no chance of fitting in my “look ahead” for 2012! Guess we’ll be taking on one extra day, call it a bonus – check out tomorrow’s New Years Day post for a sneak peek at what’s happening at Hip Ink in 2012!

 

 

Day 30, 2011: Top 10 Invitations Of The Year – Wintery Hand Illustrated Letterpress Pocketfold Invitation

December 30, 2011 § 5 Comments

Wow – 30 days have absolutely flown by, and I can’t believe that we’ve just got one more post to go tomorrow to wrap-up 31 Days of Blogging Hath December, the Redux (and a wrap-up it shall be my friends!).

It has been a blast sharing info on etiquette, printing methods, invitation pricing/budgets and most of all my Top 10 favourite Hip Ink custom invitations from 2011.

I often say how difficult it is to pick “favourites” as a designer – it’s a bit like having tons of children and trying to choose which ones you like best. Difficult, and of course the newest one always seems to have a special place in your heart.

But, choosing my favourite invitation of 2011 was actually really easy, for so many reasons – lovely clients, a wonderful theme and colourscape to work with, the opportunity to challenge myself to mix printing methods I hadn’t before, and the opportunity to work with a super-talented colleague. What more could I have asked for?

So, without further ado, my favourite invitation of 2011 was…

Photos by Corina V. Photography

Danielle and Stephen’s Chateau Frontenac/Old Quebec winter-themed pocketfold invitation, featuring a mix of letterpress printing and beautiful hand-painted illustrations by Amy Tan of The TreeSpace Studio.

Yes, I’ve been talking about them forever, and showing sneak peeks on Twitter, but I *finally* get to show you the invitations in their finished state, as Danielle and Stephen were married yesterday in Quebec City (congratulations you two!).

I actually worked with Danielle’s mother and sister on this project (Lorrain and Andrea). They were immediately drawn to our Paris invitation at a bridal show in January, and knew they wanted something with a similar feeling, that would incorporate two specific illustrations – one of the Fairmont Le Cheateau Frontenac (where Danielle and Stephen’s wedding was taking place) and one of a wintery streetscape of Old Quebec.

They wanted something soft and romantic, with a pen and ink/watercolour feeling, and I knew exactly who to call – in fact, I remember blurting out in our first meeting, “I know the perfect illustrator!”. The perfect illustrator was Amy Tan from The Treespace Studio – Amy is an invitation designer in her own right as well, creating some of the most personal and beautiful invitations out there, and I knew her amazing style was perfect for this project (and I was right!).

We had used letterpress to create Danielle and Stephen’s save-the-dates, and I thought it was the perfect mix of modern and old-world for the wedding invitation as well. But…I knew that letterpress was definitely not going to work for the illustration portion of the invite. So, just like peanut butter and jelly, we made two very different printing methods the best of friends – first we sent off the invites and inserts to be letterpress printed (on Crane Lettra cotton stock), and then once we had them in studio we reproduced Amy’s beautiful illustrations on our in-house photo printer (and I caught up on Pinterest while I hand fed each one!).

And here is the result:

The illustrations so beautifully captured the Chateau in winter, with a warm glow emanating from the windows and a snowy Old Quebec street scene, with the bride and groom making a special appearance.

While the colour scheme was a very traditional silver, white and dark blue, we added in shades of lavender to both the illustrations and the belly band, as well as the warm yellow-orange that added warmth to the illustrations and overall piece.

The pocketfold was also something that Danielle wanted from the outset, and we choose a luxurious heavyweight Envelopments pocketfold in Tahitian Pearl, a gorgeous silver textured metallic stock – the perfect complement to tie everything together.

The finishing touch was a belly band, printed with Danielle and Stephen’s name and wedding date, to keep everything in place.

I also had the chance to create a number of ceremony and reception items for Danielle and Stephen’s big day, which I hope to feature in a few weeks time as well.

Hope you enjoyed our 2011 trip down memory lane. I’m so excited to get to work on 2012’s Top 10 contenders 😉

Check back tomorrow for our 31st and last post of December, all about where we’ve been in 2011 and where we’re going in 2012 – we’d love to have you along for the ride!

Day 29, 2011: Wedding Invitation Trends 2012 – Eco-Friendly

December 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

Aspen invitation suite by Bloomin’ Invitations

Eco-friendly is certainly a buzzword these days, and it is definitely emerging as a trend in the wedding world – although describing it as a trend may not be the best fit, as we may very well see the eco-movement change the world of weddings in the coming years. But for now, just work with me – we’ll consider it a trend; call it eco-friendly, green, environmentally responsible or any number of other things, but a growing number of couples are placing greater importance on how the products (and services in some cases) they purchase for their big day are manufactured, and issues of biodegradability, sustainability, recycling etc.

Paper is certainly a big one on that list – traditional paper is produced from trees and processed with chemicals etc.  In response to customer demand there are a growing number of paper manufacturers who are changing they way they process their papers, and providing more options with recycled content (there are now a number of 100% recycled stocks out there that are perfect for use on invitations projects), as well as interest in related paper materials that are much “greener” than traditional papers – things like seeded paper, wood veneer and bamboo/cotton papers.

Seeded paper (shown above in the suite from Bloomin’ Invitations) is made from 100% recycled, post-consumer paper and embedded with wildflower seeds. At Bloomin’, they actually print their seeded paper with natural biodegradable inks that do not compromise the seed’s ability to grow, and all of their cardstock is FSC-certified. Not only that, but since 2010 they have been using a complete 30kW solar energy system, which offsets all of the power used.

Wood veneer is available from a number of sources and is a much more eco-responsible choice as it does not require the breakdown and chemical processing of standard papers – it’s simply a thinly-sliced sheet of real, natural untreated wood.

There are also beautiful cotton and bamboo papers available, which allow you to choose a completely tree-free options. Cotton papers are generally made from recycled content (for example, Crane Lettra – a favourite for letterpress printing – is made from reclaimed cotton fibers from the fashion industry) and bamboo papers are made from fast-growing bamboo fibers, which are a much more quickly renewable resource.

There are also eco-friendly printing options out there as well, with printers available that can print from vegetable-based dyes etc.

While I recognize, of course, that e-mail and digital invitations can also fall into this eco-friendly category, but there are so many eco-responsible choices out there that I’d like to think it’s easy these days to choose a invitation that is beautiful, personal, easy on the environment and still tangible (after all, showing your grandkids an email of your wedding invitation just isn’t quite the same).

Day 28, 2011: Wedding Invitation Trends 2012 – Unusual Materials

December 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

Copperfield invitation suite by Twig & Fig

An emerging trend in the high-end/luxury invitation world in 2011 was using unusual materials and textures in invitations suites – everything from metal and acrylic to wood and fabric, there seemed to be an endless supply of unique invitation eye-candy out there. I’m definitely not complaining – I love the idea of using unusual papers and other materials in creating invitations, and it’s these types of invites that will definitely surprise and delight your guests.

Consider the invite above, created by the über-creative Twig and Fig. The Copperfield suite is screen-printed on rusted metal with a wood backer and suede envelope, and the matching program fan has a laser-cut (which you’ll be seeing more of in 2012 as well) wood cover and leather/brass fastener – a rustic and beautiful mix of completely unexpected materials and textures. Twig and Fig are masters of using amazing specialty papers and unique materials in their couture invitations, providing a big impact for clients and their guests.

Obviously, when considering new and different materials, cost is certainly a factor – in many cases, non-paper materials can only be printed by certain specialty processes. For example, things like screen printing and laser-engraving both tend to work well on a variety of substrates, but will definitely add to the cost of your wedding invitation suite. Add to that the actual cost of the material itself, and it’s no wonder that this trend has pretty much stayed within the upper-echelons of custom invitations.

But, I think that in 2012, we’ll see that trend “trickle down” a bit to more mainstream invitations, and as some of these print processes become more common for wedding invitations and more widely available, you’ll likely begin to see things like wood veneer and acrylic used more often in both custom and album invitations as well.

Looking to incorporate this trend into your wedding invitations, but working with a modest budget? Concentrate on specialty papers that have the “look” of other materials (like shiny crocodile skin paper or thin cork veneer), and use them as accents with your invitation printed on a standard paper. Or, incorporate other materials as embellishments – use shells, paper flowers, wooden buttons – anything that makes sense with your overall theme and design.

Day 27, 2011: Wedding Invitation Trends 2012 – Pattern

December 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

Ikaty invitation suite by Bella Figura

Pattern definitely became a trend in the world of stationery and invitations in 2011, and I think you’ll see it emerge in the wedding industry overall in 2012.

There were a few that were suddenly everywhere when it came to paper goods in 2011 – chevron, quatrefoil and ikat (and yes, the ever-present damask was still hanging around as well). It’s not so much *which* patterns are used, but how they are incorporated, and I think you’ll see all sorts of patterns showing up on invitations over the next year.

It’s my fervent hope that damask takes a break in 2011, but I think the others will continue to be popular (and more mainstream) in 2012, not just in paper good for weddings, but as part of overall wedding decor. I think we’ll see patterned used more overall when it comes to cakes, linens, lighting etc.

We’ll also see a variety of options as to where those patterns are placed – not just on invitations or on envelope liners, but on insert cards, on envelopes themselves, on the backside of printed cards, as belly bands, as part of wedding signage…well, I could go on, but you get the idea!

So, what other patterns might be emerging in 2012?

Trends in weddings and paper goods do often follow those in fashion and home decor, so you’re likely to see the emergence of soft florals (think watercolour, impressionist etc.), strong geometrics (colour-block, line-art etc.) and ethnic and culturally-based patterns (batik, tribal etc.), adding to the continued strong showing of small geometric based patterns.

Care for a peek at one that I know is going to be a fave in 2012?

from Envelopments.com

The beautiful pattern above is Trellis, one of the brand new patterns from Envelopments for 2012, and features hand-painted art by the amazing Kristy Rice of Momental Designs. Can’t wait to use this for one of our 2012 brides!

Day 26, 2011: Wedding Invitation Trends for 2012 – Colours

December 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

My favourite series of posts during last years original 31 Days (of Blogging) Hath December was on wedding invitations trends for 2011, sooooo – I thought we’d revisit the same topic again during this year’s 31 Days (of Blogging) Hath December: The Redux, and talk about some trends for 2012.

As an aside, and not to toot my own horn *but*…I think we were pretty dead-on last year about the invitation trends that would take over in 2011 😉

First up this year, we’re talking colour (and boy do I love talking about it). And what better place to start than with Pantone’s Colour of the Year, Tangerine Tango:

Pantone are the defacto colour experts, and their pick for this year’s hot colour is this hot red-orange. Interestingly, it pairs really well with another colour I think will be hot this year, which is teal – gorgeous colour combo, bright and dramatic!

I think in the wedding world (including invitations) there are always really three “groups” of colours – brights, pastels and neturals.

For 2012, I think brights will be coming back in a big way. We’ve had a few years of pastels and neutrals (and metallics) really leading the way, especially with the rustic/vintage trends happening at the same time, but I think 2012 will see trends shift slightly back towards more modern weddings, making way for some big, bright and bold colours.

Expect to see clear, bright tones – rather than rich ones – I think that orange will become hot and yellow will stay hot as well, and I definitely think we’ll be seeing teal become quite popular, as well as pink and red being used in more adventurous and unexpected colour combinations. I think purple and blue may be the two exceptions this year, with the hot colours tending towards deeper and warmer tones – think fig instead of amethyst or navy instead of sapphire.

Pastels are still going to be a contender in 2012 though, don’t count them out. I think you’ll continue to see pastels used as part of a greater overall colour scheme, rather than as a single overriding colour. Vintage and rustic themes will continue to be popular in 2012, which lend themselves easily to dusty pastel combinations – think rose, peach and sage green, as an example – and I think we’ll continue to see pastels used in palettes that combine multiple soft colours and textures to achieve a more natural look.

Neutrals never go out of style, but I think we may see a shift in the kinds of naturals that are being mixed into colour schemes this year. While the trend has been brown, grey and soft taupe and beige, I think we’ll be seeing a shift towards cleaner neutrals – bright white instead of off-white or cream, black instead of brown. Grey and navy will still continue to be popular, but they likely won’t be 2012’s main neutrals.

While I think that the rustic/vintage trend will continue to be fairly strong in 2012, I think we will be starting to see it decline and a more modern aesthetic re-emerge.  With that shift towards more modern affairs (both casual and formal), we’re likely to see a lot of bold and dramatic colour combinations this year – and I can’t wait!

Day 25, 2011: Top 10 Invitations Of The Year – Wood, Moss and Silk Woodland Wonderland Boxed Invitation

December 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

Merry Christmas everyone!

You may already be stuffed with Turkey (or your choice of delicious Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Festivus protein), but I hope you’ve left room for some eye candy!

I couldn’t do a round-up of my favourite Hip Ink invitations of 2011 without including and invitation I designed for a beautiful “Woodland Wonderland” styled shoot with Corina V. Photography and Eph*ra Event Design. We were thrilled to have this shoot featured on Style Me Pretty, 100 Layer Cake and Wedding Chicks (WC actually featured secondary looks from this shoot, including a variant of this same invitation in pink, white and grey with Spanish Moss).

The inspiration behind the shoot was an elegant and whimsical woodland setting with a dash of rustic charm, and the shoot featured everything from berries and feathers to mushrooms and frogs – so much fun! The idea behind this particular design was to find a way to incorporate both elegance and whimsy along with more earthy rustic elements.

The wood invitation card was die cut and used a whimsical typeface with a hand-lettered feel, and it was nestled on a bed of real moss in a chocolate brown silk box. The silk box was tied with a grass-green ribbon and featured three handmade layered wood-veneer flowers. The insert cards continued the theme, adding a rabbit and a bird to the mix as well!

It was such a pleasure to participate in this amazing shoot with such talented vendors and it’s always fun to be your own client and let you imagination run wild 😉

So…tomorrow we start our series on invitation trends for 2012, and stay tuned on Friday when we feature my very favourite invitation from 2011!

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