Grown-Up Pirate Invitations


I have a fabulous regular client that has also become a friend (see her wedding invitations I created here). She's the kind of client graphic designers drool over: completely trusting, appreciates art and design, is willing to stretch the budget for a good idea and is always excited and optimistic about the project.

This project evolved when she told me that her brother-in-law would be celebrating his 30th birthday aboard a ship named the Jolly Roger in the Cayman Islands (nice, right?). She wanted to do something really special for the invitations. We wanted to walk the fine line between elegant and fun while trying to avoid too much cheesiness. This "pirate's treasure chest" invitation suite includes a pirate invitation, a postcard featuring a vintage ship with accommodation info on it, a card featuring a conch shell with information on the dinner following the cruise, a card featuring historic Pirate Code of Conduct and a fun "antique" map of the island.

I always love reading about other designers' processes, so I'll give you all the details about how I made these and where I got stuff after the jump. Otherwise, have a lovely weekend!

I got most of my supplies at Hobby Lobby. I got so incredibly lucky that I swear it was kismet: the day I went was the last day of half off wood, metal and leather boxes. So I got beautiful wood and leather boxes for $4.50 instead of $9.00. Most of the boxes measured about 4x6" with a depth of about 5.5." I lined the boxes with supercheap Spanish moss (2.99 at HL). I also bought 2 feather plumes from the floral section of HL for about $2 each. I then just X-acto-ed individual feathers off to tuck beneath the dark leather twine I got for $14.

Then I headed on down to Party City where I found the gold coins (not exactly doubloons, but gold, shiny and chocolate=good enough) and little pouches of gold nugget gum. I also got some silly pirate eye patches because, come on, you've got to have some friggin' eye patches. These items were about 99 cents each. I had planned on including cigars and mini rum bottles, but I ran out of room and was worried about the spill factor.

For the design, I used vintage imagery and clipart for each piece. A linen weave cover weight paper added an antique feel. The Cayman Island map image I found via a google search, printed out on regular paper, crumpled up a bunch of times and then seared along the edges with a lighter (and also accidentally inhaled a bunch of smoke in the process).

The real budget buster here was shipping. Most of them had to be sent in a large USPS $!0.95 flat rate box. Luckily, the treasure chests went out to only a select few close friends of her brother-in-law. Everyone else got just the pirate invitation in a brown kraft envelope with a custom label.

Time consuming? Yes? Worth it? Totally.

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