At BARK, we have a huge design team that create everything from the toys in the box, to our ads, to even the packaging and collateral that come with our products. One of these creative minds is Senior Designer Julia Karraker. For her 5-year anniversary at working at BARK, Julia recently posted about her favorite designs ever. We talked to her about what made her choose these over all the many creative illustrations she's done for the packaging inside the BarkBox, and in general what inspires her.
Galapagos: Tails of the Tropics
"What makes BARK great is how our toy designers are able to come up with such fun and dynamic concepts month after month. My job is to elevate those toys and give them a setting that really tells the story of the monthly theme. Looking at the toy assortment, I can start fleshing out questions like, ‘where would these toy animals live? What kind of plants grow there? What’s a cute way they would they interact?’ From there I can create an outline to pitch and find out what works best.”
“A liner also depends a lot on color. It could be the best illustration in the world, but if the colors aren’t working, nothing does. The toys for the Galapagos collection featured such bright and exciting colors that brought the liner to life. This box came together very well with the color story being so cohesive across liner, hangtags, and toys. It was very satisfying to see. My other favorite part on this liner was the logo and being able to pair the tail pun with an actual dog tail to make it feel clever. Sam Wu, the Senior Graphic Designer on retail, is great with typography and logos, so I look to her a lot for inspiration with these things.”
“I’m a maximalist type person who always wants to fit in as many details as possible, and sneaking in the toys is an easy way to do that. I included the grilled cheese on the couch, ramen on the tray table, and hot dog on the floor as easter eggs for anyone paying enough attention, and to give customers a sense of belonging or exclusivity if they received those toys in their box."
"I was excited to experiment with textures this month, and that paid off with elevating the look and feel. Even the smallest details like rips in the couch or shading can transform a piece. My crutch is adding wood grain – add wood grain and it’ll immediately look like it took more time than it did.”
The Great Barkini's Magnificent Magic Box
“Trying out a vintage style for Barkini’s was a fun challenge, as I normally have a pretty graphic or flat style. I was inspired by old match boxes and magician posters, and I think that translated well. I tried working out how I could add more personality to the illustration by giving having the cards almost come to life and fly across the page."
"Julia Fitz, a Graphic Designer on box subscription, did a great job on the playing card hang tags, so it was satisfying to incorporate her designs and have all the collateral be cohesive. Sometimes I’m guilty of trying to add too many colors, but it visually came together with the limited color palette.”
Barkfest In Bed
“Barkin’ and Eggs is one of my favorite projects I’ve worked on while at Bark! It was a little tricky because there was a last minute name change for the theme, but sometimes you just have to roll with the punches."
"I think the change was for the best and turned out better than the original logo that I made, so that was a relief."
"The halftone, cartoon style I went with was something I’ve always wanted to try because I love cute animations and comics, and it reminded me of the cute phone game ‘Adorable Home.’ "
"This month was also fun to incorporate drawing over a photo that was from the Super Chewer liner. There aren’t many opportunities for Classic and Super Chewer to overlap so this was a nice little surprise.”
“Halloween is definitely my favorite holiday, so I always look forward to working on the October liner. Even if I don’t dress up, something is in the air that makes it spooky and the most fun part of the year. For the mischief theme I asked, ‘what sort of house or people would mischievous dogs prank?’ That led me to playing up the cat vs dog rivalry with the dogs pranking a witch’s house full of cats! The little family portrait at the front door is actually me manifesting to have that life. I have two cats of my own so just a few more to go!”
“I think my process is a little backwards, but it’s what works for me. When creating an outline I have the base but I don’t really know all the jokes or details until I start working. For example, at first I just had the witch hat neatly on the shelf, but as soon as I was decorating the walls with candles I thought, ‘of course it should catch on fire. It’s a safety hazard!’ Most things come together like that. This project was also a fun collaboration of ideas with the copy team pitching jokes and me finding places for them to live. I think that made this liner a team favorite.”
Home Fur Thanksgiving
“This one was definitely more of a sweet, sentimental ‘visiting Grandma and Granddog’ but with chaos – my favorite thing. I don’t normally put dogs in my designs so people can imagine their own dog in the scene, but I think the cartoon-style of these ones worked. One element I wished I could have added was a cross-stitch on the wall, but I was able to add other things like the remote to represent the Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV and the ‘paw’ turkey drawing on the table. While I missed out on making a cross-stitch illustration, I made up for it with the textures I chose on the front. Even if it’s a subtle hint, I’d like to think people would subconsciously be reminded of a cross-stitch hoop or a front door wreath. And I love the little rat in the mashed potatoes – that’s what i’d want to do, bathe myself in mashed potatoes.”
“It’s nice having a new theme every month, because if an idea or technique doesn’t work out one month, I can always try it in a different way next time. I have a list of the calendar year that I track months that I love with a plus sign. I had a lot of plus’s last year, and hopefully I will this year too!”