And my experience working as a designer/artist for a book subscription box
Subscription boxes have become the way of the future in many industries. Making it easier to get anticipated new products or releases, or simply just a one-stop-gift-shop for a passionate friend or family member. You can buy pretty much anything in a subscription box nowadays.
Growing up my mom use to tell me about how you could gift a magazine subscription – now this works exactly the same way, except you get way more in the box than just a magazine.
Subscription boxes is a great way, for any book collector, to get not only a gorgeous copy of a book but also some really cool merchandise. This is a must-have experience for Bookstagrammers and avid collectors.
To help prove my point check out my unboxing of the Bcase Box’s April box – Rattle the Stars.
Unboxing fun ‘Rattle the stars’ style
(full disclosure – I’m extremely partial in this case as I did all the artwork for this box.) That being said, I want to show you what you can expect out of a similar service. I’ll share my experience from an artist’s perspective below.
So as I waited for the delivery guy to FINALLY show up at about 18:00, I was a ball of nerves. Natasha puts her heart and soul into each of these boxes. And with each box that I purchase I’m blown away by how well thought out every theme is.
Don’t be fooled by the size. You will be surprised how much you can fit in such a small box.
Every box has a spoiler card to help promote each contributor as well link all the products to the theme. In this case, Natasha writes a small explanation for every item included making it easy for first time readers of the author to connect the dots.
Each box includes between 4 – 6 items (usually) and the Book. And isn’t it just a stunning sight when you put all of this together.
Bookmarks & art prints – Bookmarks are an obviously great add (yes you need a special bookmark for your new book) , and a definite plus. I am a huge fan of bookmarks (as I am sure you can tell from my site by now) and art prints. I love the colour they add to any flat lay. Also some of the art prints I have collected so far are just so stunning that I am actually considering framing them for my home study.
Totes are a great value add for me. This is something very handy – especially nowadays. I can’t wait to go (*book*) shopping with this beauty. (Please don’t tell my husband)
When I get stickers in a box, I immediately go back to that place in primary school where you used to carry around a flip file with your sticker collection. And then you and your friends would swap them when you had doubles or ones you weren’t so attached to. Those are some great memories.
Now this item is always I great win for me. In my experience, people collect different kinds of merch. I know Funko Pops are still huge in South African Bookstagram circles. I personally (as well as some close friends of mine) collect pins. There is a huge gap in the market locally for this. So every time there is a pin in the box, I squeal like a kid on Christmas.
So I’m totally wearing this as I’m writing this post. Much to Hubbies entertainment. He keeps teasing me that about it. I am not big on beanies. It gives me helmet hair. But when this one came I made an exception. How can I not?! It’s a NIGHT COURT BEANIE!!! You cannot own Night court merch and not use it.
Crescent City has been one of the most anticipated releases of this year. As with all SJM books, this one was met by the fandom with much enthusiasm. It is 800 pages and I tell you, there are some mixed reviews. But in true SJM manner, be prepared for a serious book hangover. For all SJM fans this is an auto buy. If you haven’t read any of her books yet – well just make sure you read the fine print at the back for trigger warnings and other content.
I am extremely happy and proud of this box.
Working with a subscription box as an artist.
I was super psyched when the email came that Natasha wanted to collaborate with me. Starting out in any industry is a challenge, but it seems impossible when it comes to the arts.
That was until I saw the theme.
Rattle the Stars.
Now any SJM reader can tell you exactly where that comes from. So it wasn’t difficult to anticipate which book would be included in this box. Possibly THE BIGGEST RELEASE OF THE YEAR for fantasy readers.
I groaned out loud. With a very confused expression hubby asked me what’s wrong. I said “well I got a job with the Bcase box for artwork…” He starts celebrating with me, pauses turn to me and asks “Are we not celebrating this? Why did you groan?” and I had to admit that it is awesome, but I’m extremely intimidated because it’s going to be the CRESCENT CITY – HOUSE OF EARTH AND BLOOD!
I mean, and I am being brutally honest here, if you start your ‘career’ on a SJM release you have to pull out ALL THE STOPS! Because if it’s a hit, it will be a game changer for you. But if it’s a miss…it can be a HUGE MISS!
So I ran through this cycle where I wasn’t sure if I am good enough. Oh this would look great! No wait you are not a big enough name to pull this off. Yeah I’m super psyched to do this! It is such a huge honour to be chosen. Natasha would not have asked you if she didn’t think it would work. She is putting herself at risk by choosing you. You need to step up! – And round and round it went.
At one-point hubby sat me down and said, draw everything. And then choose what you want to share with her. That way you have peace knowing you have sent her your best. So I did. I drew and designed my heart out. For about three weeks I spent every waking hour I had to myself (after working on my full time freelancing projects) drawing and working. I read and reread the books, flagging scenes and quotes that inspired me. If I have to guess, I’d say I ended up with somewhere between 30 and 40 pieces to choose from.
Then came the process of selecting the ones to submit. I think I sent Natasha like a 14-page portfolio with designs to choose from. (Extreme over kill I know) My insecurity in own ability was crippling at times. But Natasha was such a sweet heart and had this amazing vision for this box.
What I loved most about this experience was:
Natasha was clear about exactly what she was looking for. She made it so easy to work with her even with my own insecurities. And she knew exactly what was necessary to make the artwork come to life in the most brilliant of ways.
What I learned from this experience was:
Rise to the challenge! You will never know if you have it in you if you do not try. My need to recreate the picture in my mind forced me to upskill myself and to invest in my own abilities. There are great free resources available to help you if you cannot afford enrolling in a course. It just takes a bit of time and research. And a lot of trial and error.
My advice for aspiring artist looking to collaborate in a similar fashion:
Know your client. Understand their vision and need. The clearer the brief, the less time is wasted. Some things will be easy; others might be hard. But don’t shy away from the challenge. You might just surprise yourself. I just submitted artwork for another client that pushed my own creative boundaries. And at the end of the day hubby and I were both quite surprised with the final product. But it definitely wasn’t easy.
Collaborations on projects are a great way to gain visibility. If you are planning on making a career out of this, I would definitely advise you on doing a few collaborations throughout the year. It’s one of the easier ways to get ‘new eyes’ on your work.
I hope you found this article useful and if you ever need help or advice feel free to reach out. If you would like to see more of my artwork head on over to the shop.