For years, Lisa Ballard has been an illustrative resource for the talented designers at Yankee Candle. A “go to” partner whenever new products emerge, much of Lisa’s work has dealt with breaking out of Yankee Candle’s traditional line (e.g. Scent Sticks products). Over the years, Lisa and Yankee Candle’s partnership has grown into a seamless process that includes new concept visualization, hand-drawn scripts for support products and store signage, and product scent delineation.
SH: Lisa, you’ve been working with Yankee Candle for a number of years—what is it about Yankee Candle and this project you were drawn to most?
LB: What drew me to the project was the elegant design direction and a chance to help Yankee Candle expand their client base with new fragrances and container shapes—more specifically, the launch of “spa scents” (a mix of traditional and non-traditional botanical scents) along with a new jar shape that is more modern and has a metal lid that acts as an elevated base. Which is where the name “Elevations” came from.
SH: Being more traditional as you mentioned, what were Yankee Candle’s expectations? And did it play a role in which audience was targeted?
LB: I think it honed our aim for the audience, which is a more modern-style consumer but with traditional sensibilities. And Yankee Candle wanted to honor the traditions of botanical illustrations while infusing a looser watercolor style with a more muted and calm color palette.
SH: Let’s talk about your process for moment, how did you ensure you’d deliver on Yankee Candle’s expectations?
LB: Planning and communication were crucial. Initially, I was given conceptual layouts to show how the illustrations interacted with the label and logo along with watercolor style references. With that information, I did some initial paintings to ensure the client and I were aligned with the amount of looseness and the colors. I also set up a system of pencil line drawings to show the client the exact composition of elements to get approval before I painted. I transferred these line drawings to the watercolor paper and painted each element separately. Then, I scanned and outlined each painting and placed them to match my sketch. This way the Yankee Candle designers were still able to move and adjust the layout at their own discretion.
SH: What were some of the thoughts, ideas, and insights that fueled the direction of the illustration/design?
LB: Yankee Candle’s main intention with this product was to provide customers a spa-like calm. The fragrance notes determined what would be in the botanicals, but it was up to me to create and use the most accurate, and prettiest, representation of the fragrance. I also had to keep in mind the flow of the layout and the elements that came in front of the label.
SH: Piece of cake, right?
LB: (chuckles) Exactly.
SH: What would you say was the biggest challenge you overcame while working on this project?
LB: Getting the initial style of the watercolor set, without a doubt. Being a household brand, their (Yankee Candles) lidded jar candle shape remained unchanged since the start of the company with photography being the sole direction for their scents. And often times, clients will come with a pre-conceived notion of a style they saw on the Internet—it’s a challenge to get yourself into that frame of mind. Of course, my own style is the base of all my work, I just needed to adjust the looseness but still keep the sophistication and readability of the botanicals.
SH: So, did that pre-conceived notion of style affect the end result—was the initial concept different from the finished work?
LB: Nope. Once we set the style, we kept it throughout the process.
SH: If you had to pick, what would you say was your favorite part of the project?
LB: The moment I got to assemble the individual paintings into the layout—it’s like they came to life. Also, when I saw the final product in stores and it looked even better!
SH: How did this project help you grow as an artist?
LB: Every project sharpens my skills, especially when it comes to watercolors. This one loosened me up a bit—I had to get outside my comfort zone, which, in the end, added more expression to my own style.