Behind the Project: A More Playful Packaging

In this series, we’ll look deeper into some of the projects on Behance.net that were especially admired in our community. Steve Simpson is a Dublin, Ireland based illustrator. His projects have ranged from an award –winning projects based on sign language to a children’s book. We spoke with him about his recent project, Illustrated Barcodes, a playful take on a portion of product design most take for granted. 

What was your inspiration for this project?
A few years ago, I was given the chance to design and illustrate a packaging project for an Irish hot sauce company, Mic’s Chilli. I’ve done some graphic design, but I’d primarily been working as an illustrator; to me the 2 disciplines were quite different. So, I decided to treat the design as one big illustration.
By looking at the project from a slightly different angle, I was able to question things I’d previously taken for granted—namely the humble bar code. Did it need to be so ugly? What could I do to make it blend more with the rest of the packaging? I searched the web for answers and rules and was surprised to find very little information on what you could do and what you couldn’t. For the most part it’s been about experimenting and it’s surprising just how far away from the white box, black sticks and digital type face I’ve come.


 

By looking at the project from a slightly different angle, I was able to question things I’d previously taken for granted—namely the humble bar code. Did it need to be so ugly?

 


Can you describe your process in creating this project?
I had collated all the illustrated barcodes from a variety of projects to show as examples to a new client. I hadn’t initially planned on putting them up on Behance but the thought occurred to me that it would be handy to have them all in one place.

Did you expect it to be as popular as it’s been on The Behance Network?
No, not at all. I was quite shocked to see how quickly the appreciations racked up. Shocked, but delighted.

Do you feel that this project is “done,” or is there anything you’d like to improve on or change in the future?
This is more of a collection; it’s a something I will continue to update with new illustrated barcodes as I do them.


 

My favorite comments have come from students who saw the work because tutors in class shared it. It’s been amazing to see people creating their own barcodes.

 


Did anything interesting happen as a result of the success of this project? (fans contacting you, job opportunities, blogs picking it up, etc).
The project has been up for a few months but it’s still getting lots of daily traffic. Immediately after it was featured on Behance it really went viral, and was picked up by blogs, newspapers, and magazines across Europe, the United States and South America. My favorite comments have come from students who saw the work because tutors in class shared it. It’s been amazing to see people creating their own barcodes.

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