The Making of a Monogram


Christmas is such a wonderful time of year (for most people) and one of my favourite things is that it means I get asked to make beautiful, customised gifts for people to give to their loved ones. I adore being involved in the gift process in such a personal way that I almost feel as though I get an extra gift for Christmas too, when I get to hear how much the recipients enjoyed their bespoke illustrations!

I thought I would share the making of a custom made monogram, which was commissioned for a couple as their Christmas present. I’m hoping you will gain an insight into how you too could personalise an illustration either as your own illustration project or as a piece to order from me!


First of all, I work closely with the customer to try and find out as much as I can about the person (or in this case people) the illustration is being custom made for. While I start by asking customers to fill out a short form, I try and generate a bit of a conversation around the end client following this, to see if I can pick up any extra information about them that I can try and weave into the pattern. For example, for this commission, the client discussed how much the couple love dogs, even though they don’t have a dog of their own. From there we were able to discuss how to include an illustration of the ‘family dog’, which the couple adored and often looked after, into the pattern. From feedback, I found out this was actually one of the elements of the finished illustration that the couple loved most about the drawing, once they had spotted him!


Once I have discovered all the personal items to include in the pattern, I ask about relevant botanicals or pattern styles, such as geometric patterns, that I can use to ‘fill in’ the space around the personal items.This monogram of the letters S&J was requested as a 'pattern inside the letters' illustration. In this case, the customer asked for a mixture of geometric patterns, sunflowers, cacti and tropical leaves to make up the pattern.

The monogram was personalised so that each letter housed a pattern of items specific to the person it corresponded to and the ampersand contained a mixture of the couple’s shared favourite things. Interspersed within the pattern inside the letter S you will find one half of the couple’s favourite sunflower blooms, an elephant (as she loves them and as a nod to the couple’s love of travelling) and a train to represent the company she works for. Within the ampersand you will see an anchor, as this is the symbol of the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter in which the couple live. You should also be able to spot the aforementioned family dog Baxter and a symbol for Nottingham Trent University, where the couple met. Lastly, within the J you should be able to see what football team the other half of the couple supports (Wolverhampton Wanderers) and the silhouette of St. Paul’s Church, which is the square on which the couple bought their first property together. The rest of the pattern is made up of on trend, tropical botanicals, such as cacti, monstera plants, eucalyptus and banana leaves. Spanning from the edge of the J and swinging back up through the monogram is a circular shape with some further symbols representing the couple’s interests of travel and sport.

See how the monogram was created in this short video showing the illustration process.

This monogram was digitally hand drawn on the iPad Pro.


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© Simona Matuozzo