face time with a Benefit designer

At Benefit we are eternally celebrating the holidays. No, seriously. We could be planning the holiday sets in winter, designing art in spring, completing photo shoots in summer and before you know it we are planning the next years sets! In the words of our holiday designer whom you’ll soon meet “literally when one ends, the next one begins. We live, breathe, eat and sleep holiday.”

A green Christmas tree? No thanks!

Luckily we have the holiday master Designer, Heather Wyville. Heather has been designing all of our holiday sets for the last five years, as if she wasn’t so extremely talented already, all of her patterns and images are HAND DRAWN! Besides her being the total master of Benefit holiday she is probably the coolest, most stylish, most in-the know, most easy-going and funny individual… basically when we all grow up we want to be Heather!

We sat down with Heather to get a little behind the scenes perspective on holiday 2011!

Q: How do you get started with the design of holiday?

A: Typically I am given an overarching theme to play with. Once this theme is in place, it’s holiday go time… I have a holiday box that I fill during the course of a year with things that inspire me. I pull things from this box that might pertain to the theme and may guide me in the right direction. I do this hoping to find that ideal concept that will eventually grow to become the entire holiday “story” for that year. Once I feel I have some solid ideas in mind, it’s execution time. This is where the real fun begins. I usually start with the best of benefit collections as these tend to drive the mood that carries through to all of the other holiday packaging. I create a massive amount of pattern variations and color ways. This stage of my process is always evident by the ugly, black ink pen stain that is on my drawing finger for weeks!

Not just holiday, Heather also designed our newest highlighter watt's up!

Heather then brings all of her concepts to the creative meeting. Picture this: jars of candy, magazines and books spread all over the table, assorted baked goods all in a room full of life size fragrance bottles, mannequin heads and board games. And now it’s meeting time!

Q: How do your ideas get presented at the creative meeting?

A: Once I am finally satisfied with what I have created, I present the options to my creative group. We compare designs to previous years to make sure it is the freshest, newest and most energetic. As a team we decide which direction is really going to set us apart from our competitors. There are many rounds involved, many changes, many revisions to type, color, patterns and designs. When we eventually land on the final designs it is a really exciting time. And I will say this, there is NOTHING like the sweet sound of that “final art to printer” stamp!

From the art to the shades, this kit is total GLAM!

Q: With designing holiday for the last five years how do you keep inspiration fresh and new?

A: It is so important to stay current with trends. I do this by constantly scouring magazines, bookstores, trend sites, specialty shops, fabric stores, etc. I keep my eyes open to what people are wearing and things that are going on around me. I use this information every year and incorporate it into my packaging. That really cute dress I just saw in a shop window could be my  inspiration for next years holiday. Suppose I am just going to have to go buy it… inspiration is sooo fun!

Q: What advice do you have for others who are in need of a little creative inspiration?

A: What really keeps me going and keeps my creative juices flowing is experience. I do visit design blogs and websites but I never TRULY get inspired by sitting in front of a computer screen. I do enough of that when I am designing. What inspires me is getting out there… seeing and doing. I love to travel and I love seeing new things. It is impossible to capture in a picture on a computer monitor the feeling of actually seeing a famous piece of art or the inside of a really cool European boutique. I would have to say pretty much all of my ideas stem from my adventures. Even if it is just a trip to a new, random antique shop or a stop at a colorful farmers market, everything that I create begins with an experience.

Q: How does it feel to see products you have designed in stores?

A: It is a feeling that is so hard to put into words. The sense of pride I feel is overwhelming. When I am walking past a boutique or in Sephora and I see this tangible thing that I created, that the world is seeing, it is an amazing feeling. But the absolute best feeling ever is when I am walking past a Benefit counter with my daughter Lucie and she points her finger up and says, “my mommy did that”. Right there, that is what makes it all so rewarding.

What ideas do all of you have out there for next year’s holiday!? Send us your thoughts and maybe your concept will make it to the next benefit creative meeting!