I was recently approached by my colleague – Jane with a request to produce custom luggage tags with a quick turnaround time. My immediate response was “Let’s do it!”. Despite the fact I had never designed luggage tags before or what was involved! A few years ago my response to such a question would have been very very different indeed. I used be under the assumption that if I did not know how to do something then I should be upfront about it, and refer someone who might be better suited to the task. It took a while for me to understand that it was only when I ventured out of my comfort zone and was truly uncomfortable was when I learned the most, and learned at a much faster pace (as it was usually necessary).

So back to the project, the end product turned out quite well considering the tight time frame!

Custom Luggage tags created at the Fab lab Limerick

Custom Luggage tags created at the Fab lab Limerick


I’ll document the steps I took to achieve this end product.

Step 01:  Involved laying out designs in order to gauge what shape and look Jane envisaged the end product to look like. With a few referenced image to work from and after a few rounds of edits, the simple design below was decided on.

I had also designed a compass imagery for the back with the accompanying quote “The journey is more important than the destination”. 



It became clear during the design process that I would need to liaise with Jane and the leather manufacturers to ensure that I left the gap in the wood wide enough to ensure the leather straps would feed through comfortably.

Step 02: Head to the Fab Lab in Limerick and set up my illustrator file for laser cutting. Certain colours and point widths need to be assigned to the different line areas of the design file depending on how the item is being cut. The image below illustrates this idea.


I also learned that it is a good idea to have any font in your design file converted to outlines. As the computer attached to the laser cutter might not have the font you have in your file and is not connected to the internet    (rookie mistake I learned during an earlier project)

Step 03: Involved selecting material at the Fab lab, we chose 3mm birch as it was quite thick (Luggage tags need to be quite sturdy to be functional). I had previously only printed on MDF which is quite quick. However, the birch took much much longer to cut through. Apologies to the person waiting for me to finish cutting! I will be better prepared in future. Also due to the limited time on the laser cutter, only the format of the tags were laser cut. However, I did learn what best practice was when printed double sided items on the laser cutter.

Voila! Custom Luggage tags just off the laser cutter


Custom Luggage Tags fresh off the laser cutter



Custom Luggage tags with custom leather stap



Rows and rows of luggage tags!