Creative Introduction: What’s in the Box Design

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{All images courtesy of Michelle}

This week we meet Michelle Meeker of What’s in the Box Design – home to unique and unexpected invitations

1.    Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I am the chief creative and founder of What’s in the Box Design. I create invitations that your guests experience. I live in the sunny part of San Francisco with my orange cat and husband. Most of my career has been spent creating character animation performances for film, games, and tv. I now spend my days creating invitations, teaching and personal animation projects.

2.    How did you come up with your business name ?
I had a hard time coming up with a name that felt right. I attended  a workshop where the presenter had us ask other participants for what we needed to move forward with a dream. My dream was to launch my invitation business and what I needed was that one name that would perfectly encapsulate my business. After many many suggestions, I wasn’t convinced that anyone in the room would give me my name. I kept asking and at the end of day two, a woman said the name. It felt right as soon as I heard it. She thought of the name after I described what a guest feels when they receive one of my invitations. I still love receiving packages through the mail and it’s magic when you receive something unexpected.

3.    How long have you been in business?
I’ve been creating original invitations since 2002. I started out by doing invitations for my friends. My first invitation design was a paper doll theme for my sister-in-law’s wedding. Eventually, I found myself in charge of invitations for other friends’ personal parties. After I finished creating my own wedding invitations, I had the idea to create a business. Since What’s in the Box was founded, I continue to expand my ideas that I offer clients. The more I create…the more ideas I seem to get.

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4.    Where do you find the inspiration for your designs?
I am constantly gathering ideas and never know when I’m going to see something that sparks a new idea. I have a library in my studio that houses my eclectic artistic interests. Even in this digital age, I still love being inspired by books. I guess I’m really open to finding inspiration from anywhere.  I believe being open to seeing options makes them appear. I view each invitation as a new opportunity to surprise not only my client but myself…especially when I see everything finished and ready to send out.

5.    How would you describe your style?
I believe my visual style slightly changes with each design. One thing that ties them together is their elements of storytelling. I’ve tried to design in the past by purely thinking about the design elements. I found that it just didn’t work for me that way. I need a story to tell…then my idea comes to me much easier. This comes from my filmmaking and animation background. In animation, you’re always thinking about movement but through still frames and I believe that is where my desire to make my creations interactive comes from.

6.    What are your favourite materials/techniques?
I love using various papers and textures in my designs. Each design presents me with a new challenge and forces me to learn about new materials. I love discovering new craft materials and then figuring out ways to be creative with them.

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7.    What does being creative mean to you?
Creativity is something that I find I can’t demand to appear. I just need to be relaxed and open to where it’s going to lead me and trust that if I put in the time, a solution will appear. I’ve also noticed that a lot of my creativity comes when I need to work within parameters. There is magic when a solution seems to appear out of the blue…especially on a tricky problem that  I struggled with. Creativity isn’t always easy but I love the surprises when I stay open to ideas.

8.    Can you describe the time when you first realised that creating was something you absolutely had to do?
I can’t remember a time that I wasn’t drawing or doing other artsy things.  My parents have always been very supportive and didn’t steer me away from attending animation school. I’m glad they didn’t try to push me into a reasonable career path. I don’t think I ever thought that creating wasn’t going to be part of my life. I’m fortunate to be in a world with my career and friends where being creative is the norm.

9.    What’s your favourite thing that you’ve ever created?
That’s a tough question. I find myself falling in love with whatever project I have recently created. Ask me next week and I’ll have a different answers. My two favorite invitations are my magic cube and wedding box. I still love playing with the magic cube. It’s all about discovering the invitation. You need to play with it for a while to find all nine pieces of artwork.
When I first thought of an invitation using fortune cookies, I smiled. I still love having the surprise of opening a cookie at a Chinese restaurant. I wanted a guest to have this same experience. I like the story that is told on the box. A bride and groom holding a balloon that float off into the moonlight after they kiss…how romantic is that.

10.    What medium would you love to pursue but haven’t as yet?
I’m lucky and grew up with a mother that was all about figuring how to do stuff. If we didn’t have the money to buy something, the attitude was to figure out how to make it. Whenever I get interested in a medium I just go for it and explore.  Currently, I’m loving the exploration of what is available in the craft/ paper world. After working for so long with mainly digital mediums, there is something very satisfying about  creating an actual object people experience. I’m really into learning about paper as a medium.

Thank you so much Michelle  – I’d love to see and have a go at your Magic Cube invitations!

Want to see more of Michelle’s invitations?  You can visit her website at:
www.whatsintheboxdesign.com

Contact me View my portfolio Visit the shop
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