Not just a water bottle

Lately, a few good friends have encouraged me to share more of my story and the way I design and make stuff happen with my brand The Level Collective.

I’m stoked with the way the Water Bottle turned out so thought I’d share my design process so here goes.

Peak District wanderings with Ryan Sheppeck

Why a water bottle eh?

A few months back, I decided that I wanted a fresh design creative beyond designing / art directing our adventure-inspired designs for T-shirts and Sweaters (as much as I thoroughly enjoy this process).

I wanted to move into creating other outdoor supplies and decided that the noble water bottle — is an essential for any outdoor lovers kit: The reward for the hard-earned rest, and nature’s fuel for the next stage of the adventure. Having a high quality water bottle that’s re-useable also stops more plastic bottles being sent to land fill — which can only be a good thing.

As well as wanting our products to be beautifully designed, high quality and made ethically, I’m keen to go one further and to integrate giving into everything we do. So for this water bottle, I partnered with Miir and Splash and so our bottles support a project which helps to provide clean fresh drinking water to a rural community just outside Kathmandu, Nepal.

Design process

I consider myself to be a fairly creative chap, but equally, I am aware of my own limitations when it comes to illustration and fine motor skills. Whilst it’s something I do invest time to develop and improve upon, I made a decision to focus most of my energy on my strengths in terms of art direction.

I had a very clear idea of what I was looking for stylistically and compositionally so choose to collaborate with a wonderful local(ish) designer called Pez for his illustrative prowess.

Like most of our collection of apparel at The Level Collective, our Water Bottle started from a terrible (and I mean seriously terrible) sketch from yours truly.

My first rough sketch of the layout. Pretty terrible eh?
Pez’s first pencil and ink draft.

I loved the composition of this design and if I was printing it flat then it would have been perfect. But we weren’t printing it flat so we had to move the logo into the centre for a wrap around…

Minimum Viable Water Bottle (MVWB)
The flat version of the wrap around

Now I was happy with how the design was wrapping around, we just needed to refine the design a little by adding more shaping and definition to the pine tree and take a little weight out of the dark mountain in the top right.

then…

voila:

The final design ready for screen printing on our water bottles

Easy peasy eh?

Nope. Lots of hours researching water bottle options, getting samples, asking questions, deliberating the composition, level of design detail. Everything was so much more expensive than I expected (ie we would make a loss if I sold them wholesale). BUT, I am really proud of what they are, and the awesome cause they support…and I love taking mine on adventures and seeing where our customers take theres!

Lake District sunrise wanderings up Cat Bells from Tom Kahler
French Alps adventures from me
Peak District campfire vibes from Liam Rimmington

Hopefully the above has been interesting and has inspired you to design good stuff and collaborate with great folk, even if you are terrible at drawing like me.

Thanks for reading.

Mark