A party without cake is just a meeting | Skillshare Projects

Eli Griffith

Illustrator, designer, explorer



A party without cake is just a meeting

First steps

For this project, I was inspired by reading Julia Child's "My Life in France," in which she recounts her tale of living in France and the multi-year process of creating the "Mastering the Art of French Cooking."  What most surprised me about her story was how joyfully she lived while learning and creating, and the contrast between her experiences in the mid-century U.S. and in France.

Her statement "A party without cake is just a meeting" encompasses those differences - celebrating life vs cooperative conservatism.

Brainstorming related to the quote:

I want to keep elements of Parisian storefront designs:

and various scrollwork, fun styles and mid-century typography:


Experimenting with different styles in a lettering warm-up:


I've worked out some thumbnails to help decide an eventual layout of the phrase.  Balancing the line between simple vs ornamental is tricky, as I'd prefer to keep the "meeting" word more office-like and strong enough not to be overpowered by the "party" word.  I keep going back to "cake" within a cake shape and on a cake stand.  Among the samples, #6 is a first choice, though experimenting with elements in #3 and #1 may prove fruitful. 

Rough sketches

Working out the sketches a bit helped to uncover potentials for the final one.  I thought it would be clever to use paperclips as decorative elements within each sketch. 

First sketch - doilies, yay, with paperclips and the loopy loops from the "Fromagerie" image.  I may change the candles to more resemble the ones on sketch #2.

Sketch #2 - pretty straightforward, I like the "Meeting" with the paperclip decor.  Kept this one simple.

Sketch #3 - the curved letters in script are a nice balance to the fun serif on the cake.

Ultimately, I prefer sketch #1 and can toy with spacing and adding more decor to the sides.

Chosen sketch

Now I've settled on a main sketch and have made some adjustments.  After some extensive experimentation with different borders, I decided that the original corner borders worked best and that it was the overall composition being too square that made the text look crowded.

Also, drinking lots of hot chocolate and tea is terrible when you want to draw a nice straight line without a ruler - the candles are pretty wonky. 

Frankly, I'm not sure if everything should be extremely perfect, like each little paperclip looking identical within the corner doilies.

Revised sketch

The cake just didn't fit the way I intended, so I sketched out some different versions.

After a few of these, the more drippy frosting cake worked well. During a test sketch, quite accidently, I redrew the border too close to the cake plate and thought "why be constrained by this - let's put it behind the cake as a display piece?"

This is the revised sketch:

Pencil revision

So, just a few revisions on the final sketch were made.  The loops on each corner doily were too tight, so I increased the size.  Overall, the sketch was recentered vertically to give more white space at the bottom.  A little detail was added to the candles.  And, finally, I wanted to add some gradient effect to the Meeting text.

Ink version

After a few tries, I was able to trace over the pencil sketch with satisfaction (and no smears).   Then, I traced the gradient lines on Meeting on a separate page and added it in in Photoshop.


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