As a young child; and as far back as I can remember, I‘ve loved scribbling, drawing and painting. Basically, anything that I could make with my hands. My father was always buying me practical toys, pottery kits, nail picture kits, painting by numbers and Spirograph. I was a messy kid.
As I grew older, my sketches and artwork became more refined. Most of all I loved to experiment with different mediums, mixing acrylic paint with clay powder to produce large relief canvas paintings. I’d often mix them with other materials too.
I first noticed hand made cards on display in a shop window in 1995. I’d never thought about or bought one before. I went home that day thinking about the cards I’d seen and started to come up with some ideas of my own.
My first cards were awful, overuse of deckle-edged scissors and clumsily made.
My first collection were teddy bear cards in bright colours. But who would buy them? I visited a number of shops and asked them for their thoughts on my creations. They were usually polite and said they liked them but no-one bought any of them. One of them said, “They’re really nice but can’t you do anything other than teddy bears?”
I continued to make new designs. A chance meeting led to an interview with a well-known Greetings card manufacturer, who offered me the chance to design a range of cards for their company.
I had a choice to make, work for them or go it alone. I decided to work on my own to see how my designs developed without constraints. I found an agent who would sell my designs to his retail customers. The orders started to come in quickly, and soon I was making 100’s of cards per month. As time passed I improved my skills and also learned how to use a computer to help me speed production up.
In 2001, through one of my paper suppliers, it was suggested that I enter into a greeting card competition. “The Henries”. These are the business industry awards for Greetings Cards. A few weeks later I received an email saying that I was a finalist for the category of “Best Hand Made Cards or Hand-finished range”.
The awards dinner was hosted by Graham Norton that year, and about 900 people attended from all around the industry. I went on my own, so excited that I had been short-listed. When they called out my name to say I had won I was completely shocked. What a night that was, great memories.
As a designer, I really disliked throwing away offcuts of beautiful papers. Could I do something with them that could be turned into a viable product that I could sell?
I designed a set of matching gift tags, and a crystal-clear acrylic drawer dispenser to house them in. They were very popular. I decided to try my luck in submitting them to another awards competition.
My Gift Tags were short-listed for “Gift of the Year” awards 2002. I didn’t win but was a Runner up. I was very happy with that.
It took me quite a long time before I went back to card design, I created a new range of cards called “TryAngles”. They took me a long time to perfect. Just before they went into production, I received an offer for my previous range of cards to be produced in the USA.
But something in me had changed. Despite the offer, I couldn’t face going through all the upheaval again. For years I’d cancelled going out, missing out on seeing family, friends and holidays, just to fulfil orders. I was constantly busy. I’d had enough. I was well and truly burned out. My “TryAngles” designs never went into production.
Here's what guests had to say about my designs:
With the wedding now over and the frenzy stopped, I didn’t know if I should keep going. All that work over 18 months of design, planning, testing out the prototypes and learning new skills.
The truth was I didn’t want to stop. Designing cards makes me happy. I love to work on the fine details, deciding which colours to choose, the backgrounds and best of all, finding a way to use all those beautiful papers.
The question was how could I adapt my wedding stationery into luxury occasion cards? I wanted to design something that was nothing like a single fold card. I like layers and the slow reveal of a product. An immersive experience if you like.