Assignment 2 – Thinking of you

I really love greeting cards and went through a spell of designing and making my own cards so was quite enthusiastic with the project. The greeting card market these days is highly saturated with quality and beautiful offerings so I found it wasn’t particularly viable to set up my own business given the time and resources it takes.

I think I’ve felt somewhat overwhelmed by the ranges of cards available these days – different formats, sizes, illustration styles versus graphic etc so hope to be able to use this exercise to breakdown/ categorise some of the offerings and then generate some new ideas.

I started in my sketchbook thinking about the brief.

Research I decided to conduct

  •  research the card market – look at illustrator and companies and sections of cards available eg birthday, blank , sessional etc
  • visit card stores look at the offering – Paperchase, Clintons , WHsmith, cheaper shops, handmade cards
  • look at Greeting card association directory / website
  • Consider types of cards – handmade, graphic, pop- up, printed, mix of both
  • Research sizes of cards and envelopes and the sizes – consider hidden details, flaps etc

I spent some time putting on on the internet researching the card market looking at different card companies. I particularly found the Greeting Card Association website useful

I summarised some of the main card categories and formats.

Card  categories

Card categories

I put together some boards looking at different styles, formats etc and looked at both some of the typical occasions which were catered for as well as thinking about more unusual ones.

P1070008 P1070004

I had a look at some card designers as part of the process and like the work of Rachel Bright who developed the brand called “The Bright Side” which features a range of products including greeting cards. Her quirky and distinctive work, which blends old-fashioned block print letters with cheerful slogans and has sold more than 4.5 million cards. I really like the simplicity behind the work yet they really stand out and are very recognisable.

Bright Side Cards

Online image accessed 14th October 2013

I came across a great card published called Just Wink. They are one of the few I found which celebrated quite diverse occasions including “Happy Half Birthday” and random notes.

Pantsless Hi fashionably late birthday cardendless hugs fashionably late birthday card

Online images accessed via

I also considered different sizes of cards available and found a huge selection ranging from those following the typical A sizes to some square formats, pop ups and mini cards. There seemed to be a lot of A6 sizes available and looking at some greeting cards from my own collection which I have received over the years I identified that 12cm x 17.2 cm and 15.8 x 15.8 cm square were popular.  The sizes seemed to be dependent on what the card company decided – for example seemed to be predominately based on 12.7 x 17.8 cm.

Fabric Hot Air Balloon

Papyrus cards – funky envelopes – entice customers add interest- standard card size 12.7 x 17.8cm

In my sketchbook I began to think about sentiments which I don’t remember seeing in card stores.

I was considering how appropriate some of these cards were and were some of them a bit tactless / inappropriate. I think there’s probably a fine line between that something which could be seen as humorous.

Ideas /message ideas I had included

  • Congratulations on getting out of jail… Did you do it? (inside)
  • Congratulations D.I.V.O.R.C.E – (inside) bet you’re glad to be rid of him/her
  • Congratulations on paying off your debts! – must be a load of your mind – image of money piles?
  • Happy new haircut! – (inside) you needed it!
  • Thanks for sticking around – plaster image – I wouldn’t have
  • Well done/ congrats on the weight loss… you needed to/ look much better
  • Great news you’re out of rehab!
  • Congrats on the face lift/ boob job… you look great – smiling boob picture? 🙂
  • Well done on completing the marathon/ your 1st marathon – starter pistol / starting line image

Thinking about days that could be celebrated

  • Happy world chocolate / nutella day! – face of someone with choc smothered face/ kid or big bar of chocolate and a wee character
  • Happy fish and chip week
  • Happy vegetarian week – bring on the veggies – smiling vegetables with cow print backdrop ?
  • Happy winter – get your gloves oot!
  • Happy summer – get your legs out!

Thinking about my ideas I decided to sketch out some ideas for the ones which I thought might be strongest.

I then mocked up some ideas in Photoshop but based on feedback from my earlier Assignment 1 on postcards from my tutor I thought it might be more appropriate to try and come up with a more cohesive range of cards which could work together. The brief said you can produce unrelated cards or a range linked to the same sentiment. My slant on this was thinking about having a range of cards around the idea of self improvement and  as you can from the samples below many of the examples below could fit into this concept. Please read the caption below each picture for the intended inside message. I used a combination of my own handdrawn images and photographs for my range.

I then printed my samples and experimented with mounting some of them with different papers, adding embellishments etc and thinking about what cards would work best as a range. I also decided to try some of my own handwriting as the text as a lot of cards I’ve come across have handwritten text to depict the message.  I decided that the idea/ notion of a self improvement range of cards appealed. Please read comments below pictures for more info/ thoughts.

At this stage when I could see how my ideas were working as actual cards I decided I had a few more ideas to try in Photoshop and that I would like to try stick to a standard size for my cards.

Also I began to think about envelopes and having an insert to the envelope to add interest perhaps in a contrasting pattern or colour.

From my ideas I thought that the brown paper effect background was quite effective – simple yet would stand out. Although I did experiment with hand embellishment and some alternative formats, I decided that a printed card size 12.6 x 17.6 portrait with a few minor embellishments to add interest and entice customers looked most professional. I also was thinking about my tutors comments from my last postcard assignment in that having an underlying structure to my designs to hold work together and I thought this would quite important for the cards to work as a range. Across the cards I’ve selected a few fonts which I like which I think are fairly modern and used a similar backdrop – brown effect. The final cards I’ve selected here I think would work fairly well as a range however I’m aware I have a lot of ideas/ samples and that sometimes I’ve seen card ranges which can be quite diverse in content.

I showed my ideas to my mum and friend and they thought that the boob job and rehab ideas were really original and liked the humour behind them.

Overall, I had a lot of ideas for this assignment and I really felt that as I went along one idea was feeding off the other. My design process went off in different directions as I experimented with Photoshop using a combination of my own photographs, and illustrations. I think a lot of my ideas would be suitable for a range of cards but I’ve selected the ones below which I feel would work together as a range. I’ve also included some ideas to use as envelope inserts.

Self improvement range – Losing/ gaining weight. Thought that this event is often unmarked – characters makes it quite lighthearted. Thick and thin fonts to reflect the theme – own images – quite simple to get point across. Thinking about work of people like David Shrigley.

Self Improvement –  Boob job with inserts and embellished with a diamante on the front. Some of my earlier boob job cards had characters but I think the bra idea stands out more and makes the point – more humorous. Idea of cheeky smile. Embellished diamante to be added once printed. Card insert – bright leopard pink. Both cards could be part of the range – one features one of my handdrawn illustrations the other a found image with filters and pattern.

Rehab and debt card – with same message and insert. Lettering with gradient – idea of change – butterfly. I was trying to think of something pictorial to represent rehab or a character and earlier ideas were having  a raccoon for rehab (for some reason I thought raccoons used to be drunk?) but I decided that simple text and the butterfly were stronger. Used my own butterfly picture with some filters. Colour choice green – nature – fresh rehab idea. Debt card idea of money spreadsheet in background.

New haircut and facelift cards with message inside and colour insert for envelope. Had tried earlier experiments with having a character with a new hairdo but the outline with no face and scissors is stronger. Facelift card – humour idea that once you’ve had it you initially look terrible with a bandage. Used some images I found on the internet.

overall pic cards


Update after Tutor report comments

I really appreciated my tutors feedback from this assignment which on the whole was pretty positive. He suggested that the “Congratulations” might be better on one line. I was a bit unsure how this would effect the balance of the card as obviously this would mean the text covering the whole front of the card would be disrupted. However, with some experimenting I think the amendments work better. For the “Boob Job” card he liked the idea but suggested maybe it was trying to do too much. I decided to retain the same elements as the Rehab card and had the bra hanging from the last letter as in the previous example. Likewise, for the “Losing Weight” card he thought that the characters weren’t immediately identifiable as being the same person which I thought was a fair point although I had been trying to show that they were changed by having blonder hair etc – but I get that this might not have been apparent. I decided to keep with the thin lettering which I thought worked for the losing weight part and get rid of the character and bring in a simple tape measure. I think these new improved versions work quite well as a range and the intended meaning is communicated more clearly.

ATRboob job

ATR Rehab card

ATR losing weight


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