The Worry Sponge

The story behind the worry sponge started a good many years ago, as in that time, for both good and bad reasons, we’ve had a lot of work done on our family house. This means we’ve dealt with a lot of people and most of them, without any form of prompting start spilling their worries and troubles almost as soon as they’re in the door, especially to my mother! We must be a very sympathetic family!

From this, a relative made an amusing comment in passing about her being a ‘worry sponge’ absorbing all these concerns! We had a good laugh and said how true it was, before we decided that I should turn this into a design. After all, everybody has their own stresses, upsets and problems, and this cartoon focuses on how nice it is to have someone to turn to when things aren’t going well. I wanted to keep the style really simple, and for this reason, it didn’t take long for a sketch to appear. I also decided to give the sponge some wiry arms and legs to allow it to stand up!


Because of its simplicity, I created the whole design in Illustrator. For the colour palette, I decided to use a typical yellow for a large sponge (say that you would wash a car with) and instead of drawing the lines in black, use a dark brown, so that it could provide a softer contrast while also standing out against a black background, for instance on a t-shirt. I did actually trial a 3D version, which looked great, but it lost the direct gaze that to me, was the most important aspect of the image. From there, I went back to the 2D version, making small improvements to the colour and details like the wiry limbs and the main ‘texture’ of the sponge.


I knew from the ideas stage that some type would be needed, to explain the sponge and what it stood for! So I wanted to find a handwritten typeface, but importantly, I wanted to focus on one that was free for commercial use. In the end I found several good quality typefaces, but chose ‘Helsinki’ by Vic Finger, which is available from Font Squirrel.

Helsinki typeface by Vic Fielger, available on Font Squirrel.
Helsinki typeface by Vic Fielger, available on Font Squirrel.

I then added a thin stroke around the edge, which is very uncommon for me when I am designing, and generally not good practice, but I felt it suited the cartoon nature of the design really well. It goes to show that you have to use common sense when designing and rules are there to be broken!

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And that was it! The finished illustration is below. If you love the worry sponge, then you may wish to check it out on a wide variety of products in both my Redbubble and Society6 stores. That’s all for now!

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