This is generic to all 3 options. For specifics on the 3 options, see these separate documents…
Greetings cards 1st set (pdf) – double-fronted black and white batik design
Greetings cards 2nd set (pdf) – set of cards using the same 3 colour palette and 3 different patterns
Greetings cards 3rd set (pdf) – set of 4 cards using different abstract(ish) patterns
The brief – create a range of cards for sentiments or events that are worthy of a greetings card, but are currently not catered for by card manufacturers. The cards could be linked to calendar events, obscure saints days, sporting calendars or any other happening that is worth celebrating or commiserating.
The sentiment – the sentiment I’ve chosen, is that of showing appreciation for someone who’s done something that impresses you, and you want to be able to send them a card and say ‘Well done, I’m impressed’.
What am I trying to achieve? It’s important to get the tone of the sentiment right – it should be neutral, light and simple. A card could be for someone who’s had a long struggle with something, taken a risky and/or life-changing decision, done some successful fundraising, or walking the whole Appalachian Trail. It’s more than ‘Congratulations’ because it’s about appreciating the cost as well as the achievement. It also needs to be gender neutral. So, the cards need to use neutral images or abstract shapes, and neutral colours, but with a bit of life in them. I’m also aiming for a set of cards that look interesting on the display racks together.
How am I going about it?
Images: I have experimented with combinations of stripey palettes and abstract patterns, and possibly ‘neutral’ nature themes such as sea, mountains and birds. I also explored abstract patterns from a set of printed fabrics, and have selected from these as the pattern theme for the cards.
Shape and fold: I was looking for a shape that would reflect the sentiment of the card, work with the patterns-palettes-images ideas, be basically square and stand up nicely. It should also be a bit more interesting than a simple folded greetings card. I’ve chosen a 3-sided shape with 2 front flaps overlapping, and the size would be between 10×10cm to 12×12cm. When folded flat, the shaped front flap is the uppermost one. The 3 shapes used are: curved top front flap, diagonal top front flap, and both front flaps curved.
Text: I decided to use minimal text so that people who would normally not buy cards with text in them, might buy these. I also liked the idea of leaving a bit of space for people to write their own message too. So I’ve just used the phrase ‘Well done, I’m impressed’ in a relaxed and more formal style.
Printing and packaging: They would look best printed on quality matt white paper, possibly with a bit of texture. They are designed to be shrink-wrapped individually, with an envelope.
Of the 3 sets, my preferred set to develop is the 3rd set.
1st set – Double-fronted black and white batik design. The constraint on this design is that it’s difficult to display. Both the back and the front of the card need to be visible to make it look interesting, as do the complementary colours of the inside and the matching envelopes. For a 3-sided folded card, finding a method of shrinkwrapping these cards that will do all this, is a bit of a challenge. Also, there isn’t enough variety to make it a coherant set.
2nd set – Set of cards using the same 3 colour palette and 3 different patterns. This set has enough variety to work as a set, but the colour palette is too ‘girly’ and therefore too narrow. There may be too many combinations, and the stripey triangular front flap version doesn’t really work.
3rd set – Set of 4 cards using different abstract(ish) patterns. This final set was an attempt to address the issues with the previous 2 sets, and is a bit of a compromise. Apart from the common fabric theme, there is more variety, so they will look brighter on the display racks, as well as giving a bit more choice to the customer.
Through the process of trying to get the visuals to work together I forgot about the purpose – apart from the keyword ‘neutrality’ hovering about. So it feels a bit like a set of cards that could be used for any purpose, and doesn’t especially reflect this particular sentiment at all. But what would? Maybe I should have stuck with more obvious imagery?
I think the idea works as a set of interesting greetings cards, though I have my doubts about the bird, and whether it’s recognisable. I would actually use them, but as general blank greetings cards.
Looking back through the process, it’s quite interesting to see where I ended up. A lot of the decision making was based on what looked good together; on wanting to do something that didn’t involve playing with photos; on wanting to play with the patterns and palettes idea – but not wanting to use other people’s stuff. Too much material and not enough focus basically – which means I haven’t quite got a handle on the methodology yet.