Make Art That Sells, Week 2: Baby Apparel

Week 2 of the Make Art That Sells e-course was all about baby apparel. Ironically, even if my work seems like a good fit for this market, I’m not particularly drawn to this segment. I’m not very fond of babies and children (haha sorry, that seems like a terrible thing to say) and I purposely try to avoid having my work look too cute to the point that it has a toddler-ish appeal. I’m aiming for slightly older kids, pre-teens and teens, and fun, young-at-heart adults (like me :P), not babies and toddlers. However, since the latter is the intended market for the week, I adjusted accordingly.

The assignment was for a camping-themed illustration suitable for use on baby clothes– onesies, baby dresses, pajamas, etc. I took this opportunity to design something for boys for a couple of reasons: 1) I have a lot of designs for girls but almost none for boys, so that’s a niche I can start to fill out in my portfolio, and 2) I’m under the impression that there are a lot more designs for girls out in the market, and much less for boys. I wanted to exploit the lack of boy designs so my work will be more visible and stand out rather than design for girls and get lost in the slew of work for that gender.

Blog entry: Make Art That Sells Week 2: Baby Apparel

We were limited to using just 8-10 colors because of the limitations on printing on fabric. This was an aha! moment for me– so that’s why most baby art look the way they do, with a simple graphic style and flat colors. With a limited color palette in mind, I had to slightly change my drawing style and approach to accommodate this. I usually rely on shading and highlights to define shapes, for example, so I had to think of how to redraw elements while still making them identifiable even with a limited color palette.

Blog entry: Make Art That Sells Week 2: Baby Apparel


I started with an image of a bear family (I love bears, second to cats) on their way to the camp site. I think this image hits FOUR themes/trends all at the same time: 1) bears, 2) woodland, 3) travel, and 4) cars (something boys generally love). Bonus: the illustrated concept of a family doing things together may evoke an emotional response from the parent buying the design for their child, or the child may connect the bears to the story of Goldilocks (mama, papa, and baby bear). At this point I’m pretty pleased with myself for thinking on-trend and editorially ๐Ÿ˜›

It doesn’t touch much on the camping theme though, so I set to work on that next:

Blog entry: Make Art That Sells Week 2: Baby Apparel


To me, these two scenes put together tell a story: the family on their way to camp, and having arrived and relaxing at the campsite. If I took the time to illustrate a middle scene of the bears setting up camp, that would make for a good portfolio piece to get work in the picture book market, too (showing visual narratives). But that’s not the assignment ๐Ÿ˜›

Making coordinate graphics was optional, but it’s a nice bonus to show how elements from the illustration can work to form coordinating prints and patterns for clothing sets.

Blog entry: Make Art That Sells Week 2: Baby Apparel
Blog entry: Make Art That Sells Week 2: Baby Apparel
Blog entry: Make Art That Sells Week 2: Baby Apparel

The design ended up slightly gender-neutral in the end– biased towards boys but with slight adjustments in color, may be suitable for girl designs as well. I mocked up the illustrations on a onesie and baby dress to show how this would work for both genders.



All in all, a fun and yet challenging assignment– it forced me to find a creative solution to work around a limited color palette, and taught me to think editorially and beyond creating art that’s more than just “cute” or “pretty,” but with a commercial purpose. And ultimately, that’s what this course is all about ๐Ÿ™‚

Next up is Week 3, Scrapbooking.

Read about my Make Art That Sells series of blog posts
Week 1: Paper
Week 2: Baby Apparel
Week 3: Scrapbooking
Week 4: Editorial
Week 5: Party Paper
Bonus: Lilla Rogers’ Make Art That Sells: a review