I was approached by two very nice people, David and Mamiko, to design an image for their website. They have seen my Goddess tattoo and wanted a similar feel. The first thing that told me these people were serious is that they wanted to talk on the phone with me, so we arranged a phone interview in which they explained very well what they wanted and expressed their interest in possibly buying the full rights to the image. It was rather exciting since I had never been asked for full rights… OK, maybe I should clarify that I have never been asked for full rights by serious people. I Have been asked to do art and yield the rights for $2.50 a piece, and stuff like that, but never by people who took me seriously and wanted a good deal as a fair price. I explained them I needed to do some research about that since I had never done anything of the like and we agreed on a first price for just the design.
First thing I had to do was doing my research as usual. They run a school on Lemurian Healing, so given that it is very important to me to represent the spirit of what the client wants, I first started to read about Lemuria. Lemuria was a continent that sunk about 6000 years ago and they were big in spiritual healing, using crystals and were very connected to the sea. Some people considers them to share a common origin with Atlantis, and some people think that they are still alive today and dwelling in tunnels under the mountains in California. This last part of information I decided to ignore, because I didn’t think subterranean people would work for the design. Elements I was asked to consider: The sea, a haku-lei, the profile view and flowy hair. Other elements I thought to consider after my research: dolphins, crystals, crystal balls.
Then I needed to think of the face of the feminine deity they wanted. This was for a commercial project and I needed the target people to identify with it. What I knew about my clients was that they were based in Hawai’i (I envy them!) teaching people mostly from Japan, and that at least one of my clients was American. After thinking for some while and sleeping on it I decided that the Goddess should be Hawaiian looking. I looked at many photos of Hawai’i and its beautiful women to get a feeling for it and started sketching Hawaiian faces.
You can see how I repeat certain sketches but introduce variations. My favourite faces where the first two. I think they have a serene happiness that matches the spiritual healing theme very well. I am a sucker for frames, so I loved the idea of dolphins in the moon, however this might not reduce well, and my clients wanted to use the image for branding, so it would be used in things as letter heads. I also liked the cliffs behind the face, since I think it framed it well and brought the attention to the lady better.
My clients decided for sketch 4, with a moon that did not extend as much. I started the process of refining the sketch and inking, the one thing that bothered me is that I felt the gap in the moon-frame now was too large, especially when I got instructions to also paint it, I was worried that it would look funny, a big mass of color in the sea with no elegance. I got some more feedback on trying other possibilities, crystal balls, dolphins maybe? So I went ahead and sketched some more:
I was not crazy about any of these, they look unbalanced and cluttered, and I was super happy when my clients went ahead and told me to keep the original sketch #4. Yay! 😀
So as we went ahead inking and coloring they suggested a mermaid tail, and that was the perfect solution to my concern of the block of ocean. Unlike the dolphins the mermaid tail did not need to be shown completely, just a part would be enough, and it would cut the solid blue of the ocean and sky, and I could also use it as a design element to bring the eye back to the goddess face!
To color the image I went to see their webpage, took a screencap and color picked from it. I wanted to keep a palette that reflected their soothing and calm colors.
To make the Goddess the main focus, I used warmer tones on her, this would separate her easily from the cold blues of the background. I tried some textures but they were getting lost when the piece was reduced. So we kept it simple and more graphic.
I really like how this image turned out. I think it captures the essence of what my clients wanted, it is serene, beautiful and feminine. It was an incredible experience for me, I enjoyed the process a lot and learned about a culture I didn’t know. David and Mamiko were awesome to work for and I would recommend them to any artist any day.
Have you had any great experience with a client you would like to share too? I would love to know!