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oh joy for target / behind-the-scenes, part 3…

Oh Joy for Target

Oh Joy for Target

Since launching the Oh Joy for Target collection back in March, I've been sharing some behind-the-scenes peeks at the pieces and the photo shoots (see here and here) that helped bring our designs to life. I've shown you guys what some of our photo shoots are like, but one thing I always get asked is how the design process works. Did I really design everything? How did our designs go from ideation to actual product? And what's my role in the process vs. Target's? Well, here's a little look at how it all happens…

Before this collection came along, I personally designed every item with the Oh Joy name on it myself. But as this project approached and with hundreds of products to design on top of everything else I was working on last year, it became time to hire another designer to help me out. My designer, Angie, has been the perfect complement to help me create patterns, draw products, and make our ideas come to life.

Here's a look at our process using the current Fall 2014 collection as an example…

Oh Joy for Target inspiration

1. Mood Board—The first part of the process is making a mood board for our own internal use. I put together a secret board on Pinterest that Angie and I share where I'd add colors, images, types of products, and anything that I was thinking would inspire my vision for the fall collection. We'd talk about ideas as we keep adding to the board. We'd also create a real-life inspiration board in the studio that included materials, swatches, color chips, and anything else that we needed to see and touch in real life.

Oh Joy for Target colors

2. Colors and Patterns—From there, we created a color palette and a ton of patterns based on the mood board. We already create way more than will get used so that we have options to be able to show. When designing for a large retailer, like Target, you have to think about what trends will be relevant to their customer when the product is available. I didn't want the items to feel dated, but trends also take some time to get to the mass level. So we decided to mix in the geometrics that we saw becoming more popular but also added in some classic signature Oh Joy colors and details like shiny gold, pops of color, and quirky details.

Oh Joy for Target / sample sketch

3. Product Sketches—Once we narrowed down the colors and patterns, I'd sketch out all of our product ideas onto paper and then Angie would redraw them in Illustrator as flat 2-D drawings, apply the colors and patterns we discussed, and we'd specify the materials, size, and any other details of the item. This would be part of our presentation to Target so they could see exactly what I envisioned for every aspect of each item.

4. Meeting with Target—From there, Target gives us feedback on what they thought would resonate best with their customers, both from a surface design perspective and a product design perspective. We'd work together with them to discuss what changes needed to be made and ensure that we were all happy with the final selections. A lot of times changes to an item were purely from a production stand-point—maybe the material I wanted was too expensive. Or, there are certain finishes you can't apply to an item if you want it to be durable and long-term.

5. Deciding What Stays—Once we narrowed down the items to pieces that both Oh Joy and Target were happy with, we created spec sheets of every single product that spelled out in detail the materials, size, shape, colors, and any patterns in repeat that would be needed. Target creates the product, and from there comes the fun part…

Oh Joy for Target / sample reviews

6. Reviewing Samples—A few months later, we get to see the first round of samples that have been made. We usually review these samples in person at Target Headquarters in Minneapolis where we also look at the products on the shelves in a pretend store setting. Based on all the samples that were made and were successful, we decide what will stay, what will go, and what still needs tweaks. 

Oh Joy for Target / planogram sketch

7. Finalizing Samples—Then, any samples that still need work will go back for another round, and I get to see it either in person or via photo before it gets produced. Once we both love a product, it's marked as final and goes off to production to be made into the final pieces that you see in stores. The Target team works on a layout of the shelf display with our finalized drawings so we can all envision how the display will look.

Oh Joy for Target / before and after

Oh Joy for Target / before and after


Oh Joy for Target / before and after

Here are a few before and afters, so you can see how our initial drawings turned into the real-life items and how some turned out exactly as drawn, whereas some got changed along the way. The process is really fun and interactive, and I learned more about how customers will eventually use the product which informs what is actually made. For example, there were times I wanted shiny gold on items (like those stackable mugs), but we had to remove the gold otherwise the mugs wouldn't be able to be microwaved (and most people like to be able to heat up their mugs in the microwave). So, we changed the handles to solid colors instead.

I always find it fascinating to see things come to life from your imagination to a real-life product, so I hope you guys enjoyed seeing a little bit about how it all happened for us!

P.S. The fall Oh Joy for Target collection is only in stores and online for a few more weeks before the holiday collection arrives so get it while you can. We get a lot of emails after the collections leave stores about where to find past pieces, so just a reminder that once they are gone, they are gone!

{All drawings by Oh Joy for Target}


  1. Very cool! I always love the opportunity to see work in progress shots from other artists and designers. Everyone’s process varies so much, it’s always interesting to me to see how thing unfold!

  2. This was so interesting to read, Joy! Thanks for sharing! I liked the tidbit at the end about the gold handles – I would have never known!

  3. This might be one of my favorite posts to date – I love seeing everything that goes into the collection, from the design aspect to the process with Target. That being said, I can’t wait to see the holiday collection and I hope you’ll post another “behind the scenes” for that one as well! 🙂

  4. This is amazing! Thank you so much for giving us a glimpse behind the scenes! I love your products and am so happy for you that you got to team up with Target! I mean, it’s TARGET!!! How awesome is that?! Congrats again! Thank you for sharing!
    The Mama Gazette

  5. Hi Joy!
    Love the collection! (already have a few pieces!) Do you know if there will be a Cartwheel offer for your line like there has been in the past?

  6. Thank you for sharing this, I was actually wondering what the process might’ve been like! I just wish Target here in Australia would be like the ones in the US… and that ours would carry your collection too!

  7. Thank you for sharing so much of your creative process and how production works with Target. As a designer, I love ‘Behind the Scenes’ stories and really appreciate everything in between the start and finish. 🙂 Looking forward to seeing your holiday collection soon. I’m sure I’ll scoop up more pieces since I loved the quirky details and touch you put on the most recent one. 🙂 Very inspiring to see you doing what you love and doing it so well.

  8. Wow. This has got to be one of my favorite posts of all time. My creative juices are absolutely flowing! I am sure this process can be exhausting, but oh how rewarding it seems! What a wonderful career. This kind of work would be a dream!

  9. Wow! This is my favorite post to date. Thank you for sharing – it’s so exciting to see this process. (And yes, I’m a super dorky business person. But still – this was SO MUCH FUN!!)

  10. Hi Tiffani!
    Glad you enjoyed the post 😉
    Having worked with Target in the past, I approached them with the idea of an Oh Joy! line at Target. And at the same time, theywerelooking to engage with top pinners on Pinterest to design exclusive party collections.The timing worked perfectly with my pitch and their plans, and we came together to create this collection 😉
    I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to go after what you want. It’s very rare in the life that things just fall into our lap, and I have gone after/pitched the majority of product collaborations that I do.
    Best to you!

  11. SO adorable! I LOVE seeing the process. This is something that not many show. Being a retail merchandising major, I love being able to hear about spec sheets and the design team working together. There is so much work that goes into a design—production—-final product—to selling in the store. It’s not a walk in the park and I am so glad people get to see this. The stackable cups are my absolute favorite!

  12. This was so fascinating ! It’s always so interesting when you’re designing with the consumer in mind, in comparison to art where it is fully your idea and you just hope other people like it too.
    Some of the steps hurt my brain. I’m used to little steps that the consumer doesn’t even realize take place, but I don’t know why the shelf layout sort of blew my mind! I mean it makes sense, but it’s fascinating how art direction affects the smallest things that we as customers don’t even notice!

  13. One of my favourite posts, too! So great to see the drawings, and patterns at early stages, and know that you draw by hand and then have it done in Illustrator. You’ve got to be really organised to pull off such a big collection and get all those details right, so well done! And thanks for sharing. It’s really inspiring.

  14. Hi Joy
    thats such a super helpful & inspiring post to share. As a *much* smaller company it’s fantastic to see how this process works for a larger company- it’s great for a scatty makers mind like mine to see an organised workflow!! And inspires me to do better! I was especially interested in what you said about trends> it can be so tricky with timing and the mass market – what we see as trends online in blogs and places like etsy seem to take ages to filter through to the mass market and then when it finally does it seems to stay around for ages and feels really outdated! – tricky if you want to appeal to design conscious customers as well as the mainstream
    I love your designs btw & it looks like you’ve found a great match with your new designer Angie
    Best wishes Silkie (I see there is another Silky in this comments stream> amazing, I don’t know many others!)

  15. Hi Joy – we talked about your Target collaboration in Vegas Market and it’s great to see the details. What a fun process and experience. Thank you for sharing! Keep up the great work!

  16. Hello! What a wonderful opportunity and a great learning experience!! So happy for you!!!
    I did have one question regarding the patterns which you created. Were there any steps you took to ensure they were different enough from anything already out there, so as to avoid any legal issues?
    Fantastic job, Joy! Congratulations on yet another success!!

  17. Thanks for sharing in so much detail Joy, I love knowing how it all happens! I had my mum bring back some pieces from your collection on her recent trip to the states. Treat bags & napkins. They are stashed in my party cupboard for a special occasion : ) I wish Target here in Australia did party collections like this! But love your work!

  18. This article is just great! I love seeing the behind the scenes and it’s great how designers come together and can really compliment one another! The lines seem to have come to life beautifully! Congrats Joy and Angie 🙂


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