How I conceptualize my party themes is a long and (most of the time) very enjoyable process. Because I usually spend somewhere between 15-30 hours on each package and go through a rigorous process to design each element, I first start with a little research on the popularity of the theme.
This could be as simple as perusing Pinterest or as in depth as searching the wide web for illustrations, artwork, and general design. I generally do a little price comparison as well. Are people actually buying these themes and what are they pricing at? What is being included and how is it being sold? (Are they printables or print & shipped? How much are others valuing these designs for?)
I’m often motivated by a personal endeavor as well. For instance, this Circus party package was the theme for my son’s first birthday party. I was excited to make the package pretty and robust because I intended to use it!
After I decide whether a party theme is marketable, I start to sketch. I look at other people’s artwork, usually with ideas of my own percolating. (As I constantly tell my husband, ideas are never the problem. It’s how to sell that awesome idea to someone else and give it value!)
Once I’ve thoroughly sketched an idea and given it some depth, I’ll start to input it in the computer. Sometimes that’s scanning my work directly in, other times it’s going to Vecteezy and getting some free vectors to work with (cutting down on time and thus, cost). As my artwork takes form, I critique it, change it, tweek it here and update it there.
Really, the biggest lesson I’ve learned in creating for Etsy buyers is how to create items that are quickly customized. This could mean the difference between an hour lost trying to re-warp text or imitate my original gradient in a new color scheme rather than just typing in a new name and hex #. (If you plan to make a business in customizable prints, you have got to find a way to make this work for you! It is a time, effort and money saver!)
Finally, I have to market the item. I’ve chosen a very specific brand for myself to display the professionalism and intricate design of my work while also showing some vibrancy and personality. This last step is actually the hardest because the consumer experience/taste can be a finicky thing. I could love my own work to death and not be able to sell a one. I tag (and re-tag) them, always experimenting on what gets the most views. (ie. As a designer, I’ve always called things by their very specific names, but when it comes down to it, “Circus party decoration” will get way more hits than “Carnival bunting and labels.” Go figure.