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The Making of Great Friendships

As we have been making connections and chatting with people about our West Coast Friends Collection, many have been surprised to learn that these little guys are drawn and created by us (well Sherry)!  Many have enquired into the process behind these little faces, so we thought we would share a sneak peak into the makings of our characters.

Being a West Coast company, the idea of launching with animals that are symbolic to British Columbia seemed a given. The next step was narrowing down which animals would be the best fit for our overall theme and which activities would best resonate with kids. Luckily for us, we have our own kids who were more than happy to offer up their opinions! 

Today we would love to share the journey of our first West Coast Friends and how they came to be.

There’s nothing funnier than the human animal.” —Walt Disney

Bears are cute. But bears in clothes are funny and adorable. Sherry generally has a good idea of what her creations will look like at a high level. After all, she has been drawing these same types of characters for as long as she can remember so it felt natural when she picked up her pencil to start the process. It is a style that she has carefully crafted and honed in the last few years but has held close to her heart until there was an opportunity to bring this style to life.

We have worked together for many years and we have always shared the same interests in design and creativity. In our professional careers, we have worked on several branding projects focused around kids and families and we knew that this was an area we were passionate about. 

That’s when Wrenwood & Co. was born. 

Let’s get to the fun stuff, shall we?

To start the process we look at a lot of inspirational photos of animals. These types of images helped inform how best to illustrate the gang.


After fawning over these sweet faces, the next step was to start sketching. Below are first iterations of each West Coast Friend.


In all of the illustrations, it was important to make each animal unique while still weaving in similar and recognizable characteristics that make them all a part of the same collection. 

Once we were happy with our hand-drawn friends, the magic was ready to happen. Bringing them to life on the computer! 

(But before we go further, let’s have a look at the final characters that now live on our Wrenwood & Co. tees. We can all appreciate a little “before” and “after”, right?).

Notice how the pencil sketches don’t always match up to the final illustrations? This happens more often than not. When Sherry gets on the computer, she works a bit more organically and the pencil sketch is simply her guide to get to the end result.

"Which one came first?”

Definitely the bear, and it most certainly needed to be a dancer. 

You can see below all the different iterations of our dancing friend! 

After meticulous scrutiny, the first of our Friends was finally created. This character was so crucial and the most important as it set the tone for the rest of the gang.  

From there, we spent the next few months crafting the rest of the animals. Sometimes they came easily and effortlessly. Unless it’s the bear or the owl. Well, then they go through several iterations. And that’s okay! Being creative is an organic process and we can embrace that. It’s only a problem when your self-doubt gets the best of you and you question everything you’re doing. That can put your process on full stop and it can take you a while to get back on the creative train.

“Is there too much detail in the illustration?” “Not enough detail?” “How’s the head size in relation to the body size?” “What sort of pose is the right pose?” “Do we add detail to the fur?” “Do they have props?” Or simply “Is this good enough?” Questions, questions, and more questions! 

Below are some of the rounds of illustrations that we went through! 

Facial features are always interesting to illustrate. Can you spot the differences in all of these faces?

So as you can see, there are always decisions to be made but you go with your gut and (secretly) hope you made the best choice. 

It was a passionate process where countless evenings were spent brainstorming and revising while still being present with our families. We are so happy to see how our West Coast Friends ended up and we hope you love them as much as we do. Thank you for taking a little bit of time to learn about our journey. We can’t wait to see all the adventures our Friends will go on!