How I created my personalised family wall art – the story so far… 

A sneak peek into the development process and story behind the creation of this gorgeous personalised family sign. 

What inspired me to create a piece of personalised family wall art?

In June 2021, we welcomed the third little boy to our family. We’re very fortunate that he is a little sweetie and has slotted into our family perfectly. This has meant that I’ve been able to get back onto the creative path a little sooner than I thought. I’m not saying that it’s been easy, it hasn’t, and it still isn’t. But, it is important to me to retain my sense of self and that comes through being creative and designing. This piece of personalised family wall art is the first real thing I’ve designed since he was born. I wanted to create something that was colourful and decorative but also that celebrated the bond between the three boys. And so, this Atton Brothers sign was created.

The inspiration for the original personalised family wall art comes from these three little monkeys. Coincidentally they are also my main reason for doing what I do!
The inspiration for the original personalised family wall art comes from these three little monkeys. Coincidentally they are also my main reason for doing what I do!

Typography is key

I already had a vision on my head of how I wanted this to look. Over a year ago I spent several weeks creating a full alphabet of 26 letters that were filled with intricate and detailed patterns. I knew that using those patterned letters in my personalised family wall art was something I wanted to do. I was incredibly proud of the work that I put into those designs, yet until now I hadn’t really known what to do with them.

So, the first thing I did was to create the framework for those designs to be slotted into. Using Adobe Illustrator I created the 3-dimensional aspect of the surname using a sans-serif font. Once I was happy with the spacing and how the letters interacted with each other, I added in the patterns I had previously created.

Next, I chose a monoline script font to be used for the secondary line ‘brothers’. Despite the script font being much lighter than the sans-serif, the size, style and the placement of the font on top of the surname made sure that the font held it’s own and worked in harmony with the surname.

The typography side of things was finished off with the addition of ‘Est. 2016’, the year that my middle child was born, essentially creating the Atton Brothers.

Examples of the original hand drawn illustrations for the zentangle inspired alphabet that features in this piece of artwork.
Examples of the original hand drawn illustrations for the zentangle inspired alphabet that features in this piece of artwork.
This image shows the combination of sans-serif and script font at play. It also shows the areas that need to be made gold in the final design.
This image shows the combination of sans-serif and script font at play. It also shows the areas that need to be made gold in the final design.

Colour is king

Once I was happy with the general layout it was time to start thinking about colour. This piece of personalised wall art is going to featuring on the boy’s playroom wall so I wanted it to be colourful and fun and something a little special. 

I decided to go a little bit rainbow (in contrast with the blues and greys they normally live in) with an added touch of gold. With five letters in our surname there are of course five bright and bold colours used in this design. The outlines of the surname and the script font were to be hand-finished in gold ink.

Following a few test prints and experimenting with various gold ink pens I realised that hand-finishing the print just wasn’t workable. The size of the design (it’s A3) and the sheer amount of gold required, meant adding this by hand was going to prove time-consuming and very tricky. One little mistake, one wobbly line, and I would have to start again. Plus, I really wanted the gold to sing, and I was never going to get that effect using gold pens. So, I started looking into the different printing options available.

The original colour palette is shown here, including a cream colour indicating the use of gold.
The original colour palette is shown here, including a cream colour indicating the use of gold.
The first test print, colours were tweaked following this print. The intention was to print these myself and hand-finish them with gold ink.
The first test print, colours were tweaked following this print. The intention was to print these myself and hand-finish them with gold ink.
First steps in experimenting with finding the perfect gold pen, however, it soon became clear that the work was labour intensive and costly mistakes could easily be made.
First steps in experimenting with finding the perfect gold pen, however, it soon became clear that the work was labour intensive and costly mistakes could easily be made.

All that glitters is not gold. But could well be gold foil!

I have an extensive background in graphic design and printing so I know all about using foil blocking. I also know how expensive it can be for a whole print-run let alone one-off pieces of personalised family wall art! Digital foiling however, is a different kettle of fish. While a different method, with obviously different results, it is a great way to add glorious shiny foil to one-off pieces without breaking the bank. So I started looking at printers who offered this service and the costs involved. I found a supplier who offered a good price (considering it was a single on-off print) and prepared the artwork for print.

Pressing print

This original Atton Brothers print has become my guinea pig and has been sent off for print. At the time of writing this, I am waiting on delivery of the print. But if the artwork comes back looking as glorious as I think it will I will be offering this as a very limited, personalised product with those on my mailing list getting first dibs!

Update: The final print has since arrived and is stunning. Check out the blog posthereto see the final foiled artwork and to find out how you can get your hands on your own version.

Signature of Maria Atton, Le Cheval Fou

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