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  • Katie Phythian

Just a card?

One of my favourite stories from the industry came from one of our shops who had a particularly quick witted owner. A customer was paying for a greeting card for his wife when he commented. “Nearly five quid for a piece of card eh?”

The owner turned and calmly retrieved a piece of card from his printer, folded it in half and wrote on it.

‘Happy birthday to my lovely wife.’ "You can have that for nothing,” he said with a grin. The customer smiled, paid the money and bought the card.

My designs appear on lots of products but its no secret my passion is cards. They are like little pieces of artwork that can be passed around and shared. They also bring so much joy to peoples lives like nothing else can. I think I secretly love the fact that they are constantly refreshed as the demand for new ranges and trends continues. I collect my inspiration every day. We live in Normandy, France and so when we are out cycling or walking I’ll be snapping away. I’ll take pictures of gorgeous ‘petite chapelles’ or spring flowers & ladybirds. The bustling fruit and flower markets are a hive of inspiration.


Before producing my range I’ll pencil out my ideas and spread out a colour palette for that season across my wall. These are pictures from magazines or my photos and sometimes physical items that I love the colour of. These can include finds from the local 'brocantes' here in France, they're like flea markets or antiques sellers. The next stage is my favourite which is the hand painting of the elements and pieces for my card design. I have so much fun doing this that I’m often overloaded with finished paintings. These finished pieces of work need to be scanned into my production software so that I can start to build the final card. This enables some colour tweaking so that the colour palette remains consistent across the range.


After days or weeks I can start to build a range by removing or adding various elements or changing colours. All the mock prints are then hung on the wall as they might be in your shop. At this stage there's another level of rejection and addition until I have my final range. At this point it’s time to decide on a complimentary envelope colour that will work with the entire range. The next job is to start adding the final decoration and hand finishing. In most cases it gems or bows. Once we have agreed on the final range then it’s time to create the barcode matrix and allocate barcodes unique to every design. Next it’s what we call print files. This is the job of creating the master design for our printer to use on all print runs. Then we can ask our printer to create our sample set. Always very exciting when these arrive as we sit and filter through the finished range and add the hand finishing. After some final colour or design tweaks we are almost ready. Dependent upon timings we are able to print and pack the new products for sending out to our team of sales agents.

That’s when your local agent will appear at your shop with his box of packed samples so you can get a touch of the finished product. Before launch all the products are on the online store where savvy customers are able to login and place pre-orders from the first print run. Finally the packed orders are sent to you and placed out on display, ready to fly off the shelves.

“A fiver for a piece of card eh?”

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