Where to begin? I will attempt to make logical sense of what is not necessarily a linear process.
1. DECIDING ON A SUBJECT
Whenever I consider a new design idea for Luna, I start by thinking how it will fit into the whole line.
Luna is organically growing into an iconic, increasingly recognizable line of instruments…and that’s not by accident. We mindfully choose universal symbols and designs that go beyond the creation of “pretty guitars” to connect with customers on a visceral level. From the Henna guitars and Tattoo ukes based on body ornamentation by Alex Morgan to our Flora and Fauna designs that let each player bring their own meaning to the instrument … authenticity and connection are our prime concern.
Our instruments are the brand. Heartfelt letters we receive from players telling us why they chose their Luna (or their Luna chose them) confirm that.
One of our in-progress designs for 2013 is the Moonflower…a natural addition to our Flora line. The Moonflower is a tropical American climbing plant of the morning glory family with large sweet-smelling white flowers that open at dusk and close at midday. The moonflower only blooms at night. Out of darkness comes blossoming, as joy, inspiration, and hope can blossom from the dark night of the Soul.
After deciding on a subject, I immerse myself in looking at images online and/or in books. One of the first things to grab my attention was this video of a Moonflower blooming in real time. For those of you that are impatient…start at :35. Amazing!
I spent many pleasant hours reading about moonflower form, function, history, and legends before putting pencil to paper.
Moonflower architecture 2
Moonflower architecture 3
Moonflowers in full bloom
Sphinx moth feeding
I was also distracted by moon gardens (filled with flowers that bloom only at night) but, though I digress, wandering is a part of the process.
3. PENCIL DESIGN
I start out with a rough pencil design at the size that the design will actually be to get an idea of what is feasible for inlay. Since I’m not in a design program where things are easily undone, rotated etc., I wear out lots of erasers! The first photo is of my new office with lightbox where I do my drawing. A big shout-out to my talented husband Mike and equally talented friend James Streeter!
Pencil drawing on light box
Sketch for matching fingerboard
4. INKED DESIGN
To do the inked design, I scale the size up on a copier and use my light box to trace the design.
Sphinx Moth inlay
5. AI. FORMAT
Because our manufacturers require all artwork in ai. design, this involves giving the inked design to one of our in-house graphic designers to render. A huge “Thank You!” to Steve Czaplicki and Chris Williams!
ai. rendering – rosette
ai. rendering – fret board
6. COLOR REFERENCES
In the case of an inlay design, we will make color references to indicate mother of pearl, tinted abalones or sometimes different types of wood.
Rosette color reference
Fret board color reference
7. SPEC SHEETS
Because clear communication with our manufacturers is vital, the next step is creating a specification spreadsheet with visuals. There are many decisions to be made at this point…profile shape, body materials, fingerboard materials, hardware etc. This is just the beginning of a back and forth process which will take place between now and 2013. For instance…before producing actual samples, we will request tops only with paint color to make sure we are where we want to be. Pantone colors are helpful but translate differently when attempting a trans finish.
After the spec sheets are sent we begin a close dialogue with our manufacturing partners via email to make sure things are spot on and on schedule for the next trade show. Even though this instrument is targeted for our 2013 catalog we’ll need samples in time for an October catalog shoot.
This is a small glimpse into one of many exciting instruments for next year. Alex Morgan, our UK artist in residence, has an entirely different process we will share in a future post. As always, please feel free to send us any suggestions for instruments you would like to see. We’re always listening!