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Monochrome styles are always a safe choice for wedding invitations, but they’re not for everyone. In fact, many wedding traditions around the world are all about colour–colour so bright that there’s no doubting that we’re not in Kansas any more. Reds, oranges, and all sorts of eye-catching hues abound around the globe, and they certainly make for a memorable aesthetic for those nuptials.

California-based illustrator Asa Montenejo of Inky Livie designs invitations designed specifically for those who delight in every aspect of the colour wheel, and who don’t mind a bit of fun and frivolity in their invites. Asa’s stylistic and tonal palettes are about as extensive as it gets, so we caught up with her for some insight into her work.

Colour, the fruit of life

“Who wants to go to a party that looks like it’s going to be boring?” asks Asa in response to our interest in her bold designs. “I think the best way to invite someone to a celebration is to do just that on paper–make it a festive little affair, so your invitee has no doubt whatsoever that he or she will have a great time.”

And so Asa makes sure that every design she comes up with will trigger such a response in the intended recipient–no matter what their background. And Asa’s experience has shown her that colour is one of the best ways to do this. “I’ve always loved colour,” she says. Asa attributing this particular affinity to having grown up in the Philippines. “I think that my love of colour and my tendency to design in lively, vibrant themes comes from having lived in Manila, a city full of interesting sights and fascinating people.”

One such fascinating person was Asa’s father, a poet and writer who helped cement her love of all things creative.  ”He used to take me along to poetry readings, art galleries and stage plays put on by local theatre groups, and would return from abroad with the best children’s books.” Asa’s eye for illustration turned to design more generally, a skill that she honed during her tertiary architecture studies. The most important insight that Asa took from this was that once you know the design process, you can design anything.

“Whatever it is you are designing, whether it is a house, or a mug, or a poster, it is essentially always the same approach: you are given a problem, and you try to come up with a solution that is both functional and beautiful.”

Colourists and epic poets

Asa’s signature designs incorporate lush botanical motifs and depictions of fauna, representing a bold departure from the more geometrically oriented or minimialist styles often used in wedding stationery.

“I’ve always taken a lot of inspiration from nature, and stepping out of the traditionally design box to cater to people not necessarily into flowery motifs was something I considered a natural evolution for my work.” These designs have been surprisingly well received, says Asa. “Three of my most popular designs have animals in them: the Ocean, which has two dolphins in it; the Rosita, which has two doves;  and the Woodlands, which has two birds, two foxes, and a squirrel.”

She’s also had some delightfully whimsical requests for animal-themed designs. “I had a client who asked me to put a goat into the design because they were getting married in a goat farm, and another who asked for flying pigs just because. I love things like that. There’s nothing like a little personality in your wedding stationery!”

When colour blooms

But though Asa notes that she’s not a floral person herself (“I never liked drawing flowers growing up!”), after four years in the wedding industry she’s found that flowers play a role in just about all weddings, no matter how unconventional.

“I can’t deny the universal appeal of flowers,” she says. “They’re one of the first things that come to mind when you think of weddings.  I’ve had a lot of  requests to draw flowers that the bride will use for the event, which is why so many of my designs feature flowers.” But designing floral motifs isn’t the struggle Asa once imagined it might be. “I’ve been drawing since I learned to hold a pencil. What’s funny is that I think I repressed the girly-girl in me all those years–and now it just flows out when I summon it,” she says, with a hint of the sardonic.

To work with colour

Speaking of drawing on demand, how does Asa work with her couples to create that final, eye-catching result? Asa tells us that some preliminary information gathering is essential in order to create a thoroughly personalised design. “When I am commissioned for a custom design by a couple, I ask them about the wedding day itself–what kind of mood they want to create for their guests, what kind of venue it is, and the types of decorative elements, such as colors, flowers and centerpieces, that they’re incorporating.”

But eye-catching is only part of it. Asa’s aim is to produce something that the guests will treasure long after the cake has been cut and the honeymoon is over. “I want to create something so special that the invited guest won’t even think of tossing it into the garbage bin. My goal is to design something that they will want to keep as a little souvenir, maybe even as a little work of art. And, of course, to make sure that they go to the wedding!”

But Asa knows that her role as a wedding invitation designer goes beyond the design process itself. “I know wedding planning can be very stressful,  so when a bride or couple decides to work with me, I really try my best to make it as smooth-sailing as possible. Hopefully I can at least give them one aspect of the wedding that is stress-free!”

Colour, independent of the object it clothes

Of course, not all of Asa’s work is commissioned, and given her impressive background and ever evolving style, we can’t help but wonder where she usually draws her inspiration from.

Asa admits that whenever she wants to create a new design, she looks outside the wedding industry instead of observing the trends. “It’s hard to tell when inspiration will strike me, but I like to look beyondf the wedding industry when I want to create a new design.”

Instead, Asa looks towards film, art, and fashion. “I thought of the Darjeeling design after I watched, and fell in love with, the film The Darjeeling Limited.  The Ocean invite was inspired by the famous Japanese print The Great Wave. And I am guilty of periodically looking through my lovely collection of Anthropologie catalogs for color and pattern inspiration.”

One thing that Asa firmly avoids, however, is trends. “I try not to look at trends. If I see a trend coming on, I feel the urge to veer from it.  I like to challenge myself and come up with something I have never seen done before.”

Complimentary colours

Even though her design tastes aren’t necessarily aligned with what is usually found within the wedding sphere, Asa thoroughly enjoys working in the industry. “I have been lucky to have had the most amazing clients,” she says. “Clients who appreciate my work, challenge my creativity, and who are easy to work with– I’m always thankful to every single one of them who gave me the opportunity to be a part of their special day.”

Speaking of that special day, does Asa have any wedding day tips for her couples? “I always tell my brides: don’t forget to have fun! And don’t sweat the small stuff, especially on your wedding day. Although it is true that it is the details that make the event, it’s also those same details that will make a bride go crazy if she fixates on them! So just relax, let go, and trust the people who work for and with you.” Asa adds with a laugh, “Of course, that’s definitely much easier said than done.”

Contact Asa

For more of Asa’s stunning designs, be sure to stop by her Etsy store.

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