Planning next year’s card collection and catalogue is one of our most important tasks as art greeting card publishers. This year it was a bigger undertaking than ever as we wanted to introduce quite a large number of new images. In fact, we will be launching over 100 new designs at Top Drawer in January 2017!
'Couple' by Debra Sweeney
We got organised early in the year, deciding on deadlines for each stage long before we got started. We use the brilliant project management app Asana, which is completely free and enables us to keep on top of all our projects, tasks and deadlines. We would highly recommend this for all businesses with a team of any size.
We contacted our existing artists to ask for new images to refresh their ranges. We spent time looking through all the art society websites to find new images by their members. Our art society ranges are very popular with art galleries and we feel it is important that we publish some of the work that is currently being exhibited. Below is a beautiful new image from our RBA range.
'Deux Amies' by Chris Myers RBA RI
Throughout the year we receive a large number of submissions from many different artists. We always file these and take the time to consider each one. There are so many talented artists out there and it is often very difficult to choose. We have to consider the following:
What could this image mean to a person?
Why would they buy it as a card?
Who might they send or give it to?
Might it work for a particular occasion such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Easter etc.?
What type of customer would it appeal to?
Would the range sit well with our current collection?
Is the style of art different enough to the rest of our cards?
Going through hundreds of submissions and trying to limit the numbers is always an exciting but difficult challenge. We sometimes have to leave out our favourite images because they would be unlikely to sell as greeting cards.
We have to remember that a beautiful piece of art does not always work as a greeting card. We have definitely learnt this lesson along the way!
This is one of our chosen submissions from our new, contemporary linocut range by Jane Bristowe:
'French Bulldog' by Jane Bristowe
As we introduce new designs, unfortunately we have to take some away. We feel very passionately about each one of the pieces of art we publish and this makes it particularly difficult for us to take out slow sellers to make space for the new. However, we realise the importance of keeping our collection fresh and we have to make those hard decisions in order to meet our customers’ needs. Once we have selected the new images and prepared the greeting card files, we send them off to our printer and wait for the proofs.
Getting the proofs back is our favourite part of the process. Seeing the image printed for the first time is a really special moment. Occasionally we need to make slight adjustments for various reasons, perhaps the artist doesn’t feel it is a correct representation of the original piece, or the cropping isn’t quite right. We make the necessary amendments and resend to the artist for final approval before going to print. We are lucky to be working with an excellent printer, One Digital, which happens to be just around the corner from us. This means we can pop in anytime to press pass if we want to. They are impressively quick, very helpful and always a pleasure to work with. A special shout out to Trudy, who always looks after us really well and who goes out of her way to help with anything we ask her.
'Anemones in a Cream Vase' by Anne-Marie Butlin
Once the selection process is complete and the artists have given us the go ahead, we turn to our lovely web designer David Hampton to design our catalogue. We consider what is important to us to promote that year, where the new ranges will fit in, how images work together on the pages etc. Once we have decided these things, Dave works his magic and comes up with a couple of layout ideas. After quite a bit of back and forth emailing and proof reading, we send the print ready file to One Digital. Because they are so close it's easy for us to pop in and press pass. A few days later our freshly printed catalogues are delivered, full of beautiful art images, ready to be sent out to our customers.
Once this is done all we need to do is update our lovely buy online website, ready to go live in the new year. We can't wait to launch all the new designs at Top Drawer and look forward to receiving feedback from our customers. If you are attending Top Drawer, please make sure you visit us on stand ZB47, we would love to see you!
Thank you for reading our blog, we hope you visit our website again soon.
Laura and Kicki