I’ve been a greetings card designer for 2 years now and I’ve lost count of the amount of designs I’ve created in that time! I’ve designed everything from simple pattern cards to intricate illustrated greenhouses. I worked as a designer for a greetings card publisher until late 2022 and had cards stocked in major retailers including John Lewis, Oliver Bonas and Sainsburys. It’s a really exciting and rewarding industry to get into so here’s a couple of bits of wisdom I’ve picked up along the way if you’re just getting started.
Start with the caption!
Even if you are using a simple font, always start with the text. Map out where you want each letter to go and you will have a template for the rest of the design.
Have the caption in the top third of the card
No matter the size of the card, the caption needs to be the most visible element of the design. By putting it in the top third, you are making sure buyers can see it clearly and it won’t be obscured by other cards on display.
Research your audience
Did you know that over 80% of greetings cards are bought by women? Keep this in mind when designing and picking colour palettes. Of course it is still important to design cards aimed at men - especially for seasons like Valentine’s Day.
Make sure your designs are commercial
You can have the prettiest artwork in the world but if it doesn’t appeal to your audience then it won’t sell. Go into shops and see what cards are their best sellers and research trends in fashion, homeware and gifts to give you an idea of what’s popular at the time. Following a range of designers on social media will also help you understand the market and how they are responding to current trends and ideas.
This doesn't just apply to skin tones. You want your customers to feel like the cards on the shelf are for them. By using a diverse range of imagery, characters, colours and styles, you can make sure that your designs appeal to a wider audience and you're not limiting yourself to a small group of people.
Cards are a great way to show off your style! You want your cards to stand out on the shelf so have fun experimenting with different techniques, colours and typography until you find a distinctive style that sets your designs apart.
Choose your colours wisely
Customers will quickly scan the shelf or online shop when looking for cards so you only have a split second to catch their attention. Colours are a great way to advertise the occasion your card represents. For example, a botanical, watercolour landscape with muted colours isn’t going to appeal to someone buying a card for a child’s birthday but a bright pink unicorn card with a cheesy caption will! Give your cards the best chance of being seen by giving them colours that suit them.
From birthdays to new babies, good luck to graduations, there's always a card-giving occasion just around the corner so new designs are always in high demand. Good luck with designing you cards and feel free to email me if you have any questions!
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