Make Packaging More Than a Design, Make Art

When creating custom packaging art, a lot goes into the design process. But it’s not all about design and shapes. The best custom packaging designs stand out and tell a message, thereby remaining relevant for longer than expected. If you want your packaging design to stand out, you need to create not just a design, but art.

Below we list 3 tips that have helped countless design agencies, designers and artists work toward creating some of the memorable packaging art ever seen.

Pick the Right Fit

The best packaging art collaborations feature the best teams of people, people that are good at what they do and who complement each other. When picking the right fit, you need to understand their working style, their dedication to work, their current working environment, their area of expertise and other aspects of the work life.

Such bits of information are necessary for weeding out geniuses that aren’t compatible with your style and artists known more for work quite different from your expected result.

Note: And when you do find the right fit, it’s important that you sign a working contract before the project starts.

A good contract features the usual sections on confidentiality, legal notes and working regulations, but yours should also feature sections on whether or not the artist allows anyone else to edit their work.

Know the Difference between Artist and Graphic Designer

On most packaging art design projects, a team is required to handle the different aspects of the design process. Some smaller brands may employ the services of only one individual, but the best results come from collective minds.

In an ideal setting, such teams get along very well and understand each other until the project is completed. But in the real world, teams can get fractured very easily, disrupting the process.

If you’re in charge of overseeing a design project, the solution is to understand everyone’s roles, right up to the limits of what they can take as criticism. This particularly works for designers and artists. Designers and artists have different roles, and each deserves respect, attention and understanding.

Some of the differences between designers and artists stem from their working styles. Designers work with a lot of outside pressures, including changing ideas, tight deadlines, constant criticism and more.

Artists on the other hand usually work on their own timetable, never have to attend any meetings and usually just submit their work on completion without much criticism.

This difference extends to the criticism both parties expect to face for their work. Considering that artists work from inspiration, it’s their initial concept that receives most criticism at the end of the project.

For the designer, it’s the execution that is criticized the most, because the nature of their work requires that they follow a certain set of guidelines and standards to generate a finished product.

In understanding the difference between both roles, you can learn how to handle the designers and artists on your team and be better prepared for the after effects that your criticism may generate. You will also learn how to make each team member’s work easier throughout the project’s duration, for the best results.

Set Clear Terms

The best collaborations and alliances work because they follow a set of clear terms, designed with every participant in mind and made clear from the very beginning. You need to have guidelines for your design team too, to ensure a successful campaign.

For starters, you need to understand that artists tend to work on their own, so joining a packaging design might be a little never racking for them. If you have one such artist on your team, you’ll need to prepare terms on issues such as:

  • The legal guidelines they need to follow when working on the project
  • How many challenges they’ll find when working in the new pack design environment will be handled
  • Whether they are okay with having their designs changed by another artist, or not
  • How they’ll need to prepare for the differences in materials, substrates, print tech and colors that they might as they work on the project

It’s also decidedly important to mark out the terms of association between the artist, the agency (plus its designers) and the client to rule out any future clashes midway the project. Some terms to work out include:

  • Who will be lead on the project (i.e. give direction, lead in concept creation)?
  • Who will be promoting the project and whose PR shall be used?
  • Who will be the brand ambassador?

Once all those terms are worked out, the project can then steam ahead on schedule.

Examples of Artist Collaboration

Artist collaborations have resulted in some of the best custom packaging art creations the world ever seen, further pushing the notion that art becomes even better when different art worlds collide into one. See some of the artist collaborations we find the most iconic.

Rodin Mermaid Collection

Rodin’s Mermaid Collection features products include laminating liquid, laminating powder, brushes, body oil and more, but it’s the beautiful raw art sketches of mermaids, sunshine and springtime that win immediate attention.

Johnnie Walker Whiskey

Everyone knows the Johnnie Walker label – a gentleman tipping his hat – but the Green Label Johnnie Walker infuses it up with a shade of bright green shapes that mirror what’s in the bottle and creates a memorable sight.


The usual color palette in Kiehl’s regular packaging gets a burst of shapes, letters and bright colors in this dazzling custom packaging art rendering that is instantly charming and unforgettable.


Mecca employed a mixture of the brightest and dullest colors to create one of the loudest yet most subtle custom art packaging designs ever for their cosmetics.


Some of the best custom packaging designs ever used still speak to audiences today. The reason is that they weren’t just designs, but works of art with stories to tell. If you’re still unsure about how to handle your next design team, we hope the tips below guide you.

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