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A blog by Sara O'Neill


Fitzwilliam 'Fab at Five' Birthday Invitation


In early February I was delighted to be asked if I'd be interested in illustrating an image for the Fitzwilliam's 5th birthday party. Well of course I would!

The request was for an image to be used on invites and a large scale installation piece, of a beautiful girl, incorporating one of the Fitz's famed cocktails, their 'F' logo and a nod to the casino theme of the party. A couple of options were brainstormed and emails pinged back and forth between myself, super PR girl Hannah and lovely Fitzmanager Siobhan for a week or two, by which stage I had the complete image in my mind.

Drawing on the slightly retro but very slick glamour of the hotel itself I decided to go for a gorgeous 70's style aesthetic, big hair, fur, sparkle, inspired by a young Jerry Hall, Studio 54, Halston- the stylist side of me is dominant, even when drawing. I envisaged the imposing silhouette of the Fitzwilliam looming above the girl, set against a city sky. I would make a nod to the occasion with '5th' balloons and dice in the girl's hand (I just realised I forgot to name her.. any ideas??) I threw something on paper (see scribble, oh dear), emailed it through and waited for it to be signed off. Luckily, the idea was a goer….the only problem was the fairly tight deadline and the fact I was booked back to back with shoots and commissions already. All-nighters it was then ?

I headed up to my parents' house to work on this solidly as they were away for the weekend and completed the drawing in two days and parts of two nights. Amazingly, I sent the final image to the lovely Hannah on Monday and by Thursday the invites had been printed, dispatched and delightfully received. Super-efficient PR-ing right there!

For the next couple of days my Facebook and Twitter went crazy as invites were received by Belfast's It-girls-and-boys. The invites were printed on beautiful card with a slightly pearlescent finish, which showed the image off perfectly. I think in these days of email and Facebook invites, receiving a physical invite is really special and hints at the wonderful party to come. The feedback was really overwhelming and I was delighted (and relieved ;)) when my invite arrived in the post.

It has to be said- the Fitzwilliam know how to throw a party! The event itself was fabulous- a stylish crowd, brilliant atmosphere, free-flowing champagne (too much for my lightweight tendencies), delicious canapés, great music, an impressive magician, casino games and….a rather large card.

Bloopers Section: It wasn't all pretty drawings and glam parties…

Arriving at my parents' house to work on the image, I blew all the electrics. The next day I came down with a rotten bug, self medicated til I was a shaky mess and threw a mug of coffee all round myself, narrowly missing the drawing and my laptop.

The evening of the party, rushing about as usual, I realised that the outfit I had planned to wear was embarrassingly similar to the one my illustrated girl was wearing. Worst 'same outfit at the party moment EVER' crisis averted.

When I arrived at the party, I was thrilled to see the big card and just kind of ended up socialising in close proximity to it. Eventually I had to step away after someone asked 'Eh, are you guarding the card or something?' Not cool.

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