Wink. Thyme. Scentsational.

Thyme, which has been in business for 30 years, creates botanically-infused fragrances, soaps, lotions, and cosmetics. The brand’s artisan qualities and craftsmanship are beautifully represented at every touchpoint—from the website to the catalogs, to the packaging of the individual products. The website and print materials have an organic aesthetic, featuring art quality photographs of the products, oftentimes alongside their natural ingredients. The credit for orchestrating this fluid brand story goes to the design firm of record, Wink, in Minneapolis.

This year marks a milestone for one of Thyme’s signature fragrances. It’s the 25th anniversary of the Classic Goldleaf collection—a fragrance of smooth jasmine, fragrant roses, hyacinth, and lily of the valley blossom infused with oakmoss and musk. The Goldleaf fragrance has been Thymes’ longest selling and most popular scent. Scott Thares, principal of Wink, notes, “Because of its historical track record and dedicated fan base, Thymes wanted to release new packaging and products to celebrate this anniversary occasion. Our goal was to design offerings that represent the luxurious and high-end feel that Goldleaf has always had.”

Thares updated the previous leaf design motif to a slightly more modern and fresh look that is also celebratory in nature. “We wanted to design offerings that represent the luxurious and high-end feel that Goldleaf has always had,” he says. In keeping with the upscale aesthetic, he chose a high-quality paper stock for the packaging that is tactile and durable. Neenah Stardream in Antique Gold serves as the main vessel for the product, while the box cover is Classic Crest, Natural White, with a gold stippled pattern that perfectly complements the box.

The elegant leaf pattern is carried throughout the design, creating a classy and modern feel to this classic product.

The resulting package is classy, classic, and exquisitely executed.

A post I wrote made this list!

Top 75 Design Blogs and their Best Articles

Best Design News & Stories

Do you want to stay on track in the world of design? Our “Best Design News & Stories” category includes topics such as graphic design, web design, illustration, film, photography, and more!

1. Creative LiveCreativeLive brings the world’s greatest experts directly to you! This blog empowers you to unleash your potential by featuring workshops in photography, video, design, business, audio, music, crafting, and software training – for free. For example, you can participate in real-time classes from the world’s top experts. Plus, you can directly interact with instructors.

Best post: Drawing for Graphic Design: 6 Exercises to Sharpen Your Skills | by Emily Potts.

Featured Maker: Sarah Lovell

Sarah Lovell Art

Wimborne Minster, Dorset, UK

Business founded in 2012

Sarah Lovell started her art print business after having her second baby. She drew and painted in her spare time, so she figured she’d take a go at making greeting cards, art prints, and coloring books. She says, “I am inspired by wildlife, my three small children and the magic all around us. I try to capture some of that magic in my illustrations.”

I hand illustrate/paint the original pictures with watercolor, gouache or acrylic and black ink. Then I send the originals to my printer (also in Dorset) who scans them in and digitally prints the cards and art prints or assembles the coloring books. The paper used is all ‘Carbon Captured’ and the inks used are biodegradable, so they are all very eco friendly products which is important to me.

How did you go about turning your passion into a business?

I started with a small collection of nine card designs that I showed to our local bookshop, and they ordered four of each. This was the beginning, and a big confidence boost. I now have over 50 cards, some of which are available as prints, and a range of coloring books which are all stocked nationwide! And I just got a new stockist in Spain too. I started with local shops, getting in touch via email, sending samples, phoning shops, and slowly increased my number of stockists.

Do you sell your work primarily online, or do you have a storefront? Is Instagram a good selling source for you? 

I sell my work via my website, and I also have an Etsy shop. I get regular orders from both avenues, and my products are also stocked in a number of independent stores across the UK.

I love Instagram, and I find it a great place to connect with other artists/ illustrators. I try to update my account regularly with new work, and make sure my feed is interesting and fresh, so I can use it as a kind of portfolio.

Do you travel to trade shows? 

I took part in my first big trade show in January. I was selected by journalist Charlotte Abrahams, to take part in the “Spotted” section of a big trade show in London called Top Drawer. This was an amazing experience, and put my work in front of a big audience, so since then I have started stocking a lot more shops across the UK.

What works best for you when it comes to marketing and promotion for your business? 

Social media is a great tool, and I keep my Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram feeds updated daily as well as interacting with other via social media as much as possible. I also love the community feel on Etsy. I am part of the Dorset team, where the members really support their fellow Etsy sellers. I also think you can’t beat sending some one a beautifully wrapped parcel with some samples of your work via snail mail to really stand out from the crowd.

What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone starting out—something you wish you would have known? 

Let your spirit shine through in your work, make things that really make you happy and they will make other people happy too.

From Vacation to Vocation

It started in 2010 with a crate of figs, some fetuccine, butter and balsamic vinegar.  The next thing they knew, they had spawned a community of food and illustrations around the word. Salli S. Swindell and her brother Nate Padavick of Studio SSS—were on vacation.

“Nate was cooking fettuccine with figs in butter balsamic sauce—sounds amazing, right?” recall Salli.  “While he was cooking, I was at the counter drawing the crate of fresh figs and sipping wine. It was an ‘Aha!’ moment. Drawing food is fun! I told Nate we needed to find more food illustration jobs.”

They Draw and Cook first began as a printed book of illustrated recipes they’d give away to friends, family, and clients. Nate had the idea to invite other  friends to contribute to the book. Weeks and months passed. While awaiting one submission for the book,  Nate grew impatient. On a whim, he posted eight of the illustrated recipes to a blog he and Salli decided to brand They Draw and Cook.

Word spread. Others began submitting illustrated recipes. In a short time, they had hundreds. Then thousands: more than 250,000 follow the blog on Facebook; more than 40,000 follow it on Instagram. Schools are using these sites for classroom assignments. “Some of our finest illustrated recipes are from students attending MICA, CCAD, and SCAD,” adds Salli. “We welcome a range of styles and skill level, and especially like it when we see an artist improve their skills one recipe or map at a time.”

The site’s popularity has inspired Nate and Salli to think of fresh ideas to unite illustration and personal interests. The compiled a list of “They Draw and …” variations.  Nate’s love of travel includes an interest in map design. The brother and sister added a map feature to their site to enable visitors to find other illustrators around the world.  Then they created They Draw and Travel—a companion site that is just as fun as their food site.

Although these started as a whim, the sites take up quite a chunk of time each week. Salli manages the cooking site and Nate the travel site, and each spend 15 to 20 hours a week. With so much effort devoted to the sites, Nate and Salli try to offset the costs with sponsorships that won’t clutter the site, such as illustrated recipe contests. Salli explains, “In the past, companies such as Glad, Kraft, UPPERCASE magazine and The Food Network have sponsored contests and offered cash prizes of up to $5,000. Contests are super fun and create a ton of buzz. We don’t have any planned right now, but would love to! Anyone? Anyone?”

They also have published several books as offshoots of the sites that help pay for website development. Cookbooks ranging from cocktails, vegan, fig and holiday recipes are available on their online shop, and Nate just published his first illustrated map book, titled The Draw and Travel, 100 Illustrated Maps of American Places by Artists Around the World.

The best part about both sites is the collaborative nature and it has actually helped many artists secure new clients. “We’ve made so many new friends and have discovered new food and adventure with every recipe and map,” Salli explains. “What started out as a way for nine of us to meet a few new clients, turned into a way for thousands of artists to connect with art directors all around the world. Every week or so we hear from an artist telling us that they were contacted by an art director who spotted their work on one of our sites. It doesn’t get any better than that!”

But don’t be surprised to see amateur artists featured alongside pros on the sites. They only turn art away if it isn’t the correct size or format. “Quite a few schools use our sites for classroom assignments. Some of our finest illustrated recipes are from students attending MICA, CCAD and SCAD. We like the range of styles and skill level and we especially like when we see an artist improve their skills one recipe or map at a time!”

Expressing and Pressing in Lubbock

Husband and wife duo, Dirk and Carol Fowler have been running f2design since 2000, but each takes on their own clients in their specialties. Carol focuses mainly on print collateral and event graphics, while Dirk is busy designing letterpress posters, music packaging, corporate identities, and editorial illustration. The beauty of this set-up is that they collaborate when needed and and bounce ideas off each other, so they’re not working in a vacuum from their remote studio in Lubbock, Texas.

“We are comfortable with each other and the way we work, and we have intentionally kept our shop to just the two of us. We have had the opportunity to work for high profile clients, but we are just as happy designing something for our kids’ schools,” Dirk says. “One of our kids is usually hanging out right beside us while we are working, and we are OK with that.”

Although the shop is small, f2 has churned out a startling number of posters over the years, many of which are for sale on their website. Dirk has had the good fortune of working with some great bands, including The Killers, the Avett Brothers, Modest Mouse, singer Lyle Lovett, and Wilco, with whom he’s had a ten-year run. As he notes, Wilco works with a lot of artists, but they appreciate poster design and commission one for almost every show, and they’re easy to work with. “They don’t present me with ideas, or specify certain subjects, but they know what they like and don’t like. They really allow the artist to be creative, but the work definitely has to fit the image of the band in order to be approved by them,” Dirk says.

In the grand scheme of things, the Fowlers are right where they need to be. A long tradition of great musicians from Buddy Holly to Waylon Jennings and many more, hail from Lubbock. So, when the local PBS channel did a documentary film about the town’s music history, they hired Dirk to create posters for the premiere event. “My visual is a fairly straightforward interpretation of the film title Flat Land Open Sky. I like the idea that no matter the genre of music, or time period, all the musicians from this area had one thing in common: our expansive blue sky. Some might not see anything, while others might see it as limitless possibilities,” he explains.

The 75 posters were letterpress printed on Astrobrights Lunar Blue. To achieve the fuzzy effect for the con trails, Dirk used a spray-paint stencil. “I really enjoy printing simple one or two color images on colored stock and using the paper color as an intricate part of the design. I also enjoy very small runs that include this type of hand work. You can easily see that a human made the poster.”

Featured Maker: Ryan Hamrick

Ryan Hamrick
Austin, Texas
Business founded: 2012

Ryan Hamrick is a busy guy these days, doing hand-lettering projects for a range of clients. “My decision to become an independent designer full-time was probably about as random as it gets. I’d never worked in a primarily design capacity ever before, be it for a company, an agency, nothing. I also had no design or art schooling beyond the ‘Intro to Graphic Design’ and ‘Ancient and Medieval Art History’ classes I squeaked by in my first semester of community college (actually, I may have flunked the latter, now that I think about it),” he explains.

What was the impetus behind starting your own business?

This requires a little bit of backstory: For about six or seven years, in my early twenties, I worked in wireless retail management. I did a stint with just about every wireless carrier, managing anywhere from one store, to an entire district of eight stores for a while with Sprint. When our family moved to Pittsburgh in 2009, for my wife’s job, I was working for a smaller regional carrier and didn’t have an option to transfer or anything, so we decided I would stay home with the kids, while I looked for the right opportunity. There weren’t really any comparable positions, so I ended freelance writing for various wireless news sites, covering news, app and phone reviews, etc. After about a year or so, I ended up taking over as editor-in-chief for a site called knowyourcell.com (since renamed knowyourmobile.com), and ran the site for about six months. During that time, while experiencing the sad state of design in BlackBerry Twitter apps, a developer partner and I actually created what would become one of the bestselling Twitter apps ever on the platform—this was my first real taste of making a little income from design.

About five years ago, the financial opportunity to take the leap and become a full-time independent designer presented itself, and I took it. For the first six months or so, I was basically working on visual design projects and UI stuff while trying desperately to teach myself web design and make myself more versatile. Then, in late 2011, I decided, more or less on a whim, to try my hand at lettering. My early attempts were quite rough, and it took a while to gain the ability to come even close to representing what I saw in my head, on paper. And once I did, I still had to deal with the fact that I knew absolutely nothing about the rules of typography or lettering. Still, the process of crafting these letters and words was easily the most rewarding work I’d ever done before, so I committed to teach myself this craft, and the rest is history!

What works best for you in terms of promotion and marketing your work?

My growth and the building of awareness of my work has been pretty organic. Early on, one of the most effective things for me was just interacting with others on social media. I would inject myself into conversations on Twitter between various people I respected that were doing the work I’d hoped to do one day. Eventually, I formed some great friendships and was able to associate myself with the industry. Dribbble was also absolutely instrumental in my growth; not only as an outlet to share my work and my progress, but also as a forum to interact with other talented artists/designers in the industry and make connections.

Today, I definitely notice a direct correlation between the amount of work I’m putting out and sharing, and the amount of incoming inquiries I receive. Staying active online keeps the inbox active!