The Baked British Bean Label Story: Part I

Old Wallpaper

If you’ve visited my blog before, you’ll be familiar with the creative process that is often followed in producing the illustrations for the Hodmedod’s cartons and packets. Hodmedod’s generally have a clear idea of the ultimate feel they want the design to have – and then they allow lots of lovely freedom for the designer, Andy Croft and myself to come up with ideas. Some puns and shared silly images later, along with a rough and a few comments, and we usually quickly have a design. I thought it would be fun, therefore, to share the story of the design for the Hodmedod’s Baked British Beans label which has bucked the trend being 99% perspiration and only 1% inspiration and with an incredible number of drafts.

The starting point for the design was the image above which I had produced in the final year of my illustration degree course at Norwich University of the Arts. The Hodmedod’s folk really liked the wallpaper in the background – the sort of wallpaper our grandparents might have had in their homes when we were children.
William Morris Hodmedods
We all found we had a love of William Morris designs, and so we dreamt of creating our own William Morris inspired wallpaper to use on the Baked British Beans label.
WM Hearts
These designs are the artistic equivalent of thinking aloud, a useful process as others can see what you’re thinking and join in the process. My inspiration for this work was not only the designs of William Morris himself, but also the medieval designs which had been his inspiration.
WM Woven1
This last one seemed to be moving in the right direction, but was a little ‘static’. I refined the design, adding curves to the woven bean stalks and changing the placement of the flowers.
WM Woven Hods
As sometimes happens, having had a clear idea of what you want to achieve, when you get there you then find that it doesn’t quite work. Perhaps the design was trying too hard? For whatever reason it wasn’t hitting the right note for the can label – although we were seriously starting to wonder whether we should be setting ourselves up in a wallpaper design business by now.

When a design disappoints it’s a good idea to take a break. For me that means getting out my coloured pencils and having fun ‘thinking out loud’ in colour.
Beans on Toast Label
In this illustration, there are the first signs of the label that was eventually to emerge. The next image, scanned into my computer on the 28th February 2013 also bears early signs of the final design.
Beans in Bowl Label
Suddenly, the first hints of the wallpaper effect we were looking for was starting to emerge. The next episode of The Baked British Bean Label story will tell how this tentative first step became the actual design….