How to become a card designer

07 June 2016

If you have ever wanted to make a move into a creative job or are you just getting on the career ladder? If so take a look at Caroline's interview with The Guardian newspaper where she reveals all about how she became the UK's best known card designer and how you can too.

Caroline Gardner started designing cards “totally by accident” at the age of 30, after giving a lift to a stranger who had a flat tyre. “She just happened to be working for the Design Council, sourcing British designers to represent the UK abroad, mainly in Japan. We hit it off incredibly well and spent most of the summer together in the park with our kids.”

Gardner, who had studied interior architecture at the Chelsea College of Arts, was a working part-time as a fine artist at the time, but agreed to design some cards for her new friend, who turned out to be the gallery owner Yvonna Demczynska. She had been let down at the last minute by a designer. “She asked me to produce 36 cards with metal on the front for the Conran stores in Tokyo. It was a very wide brief and I had no idea what was expected. So I rushed up to Nu-Line [a builder’s merchant] in Notting Hill, got some electrical wire and played around with it.”

Her designs went to Tokyo the following week. “The day the shop opened, they sold out and I got an order for hundreds more. Within three months, I had 30 of my friends, friends of friends and au pairs making these cards out of torn up bits of paper and electrical wire.”

Her designs were very simple: “Just a single piece of wire in the shape of a pram, a heart, a daisy, a house or a baby’s shoe.” Twenty years ago, however, this was a different approach to card designing. “Card designs were all complicated, lots of painting, lots of things going on. There were also very few handmade cards and none with metal on the front.”

She soon discovered that the cards had a UK market too. “I’d drive around at 11pm when the children were in bed and there was no traffic and put a sample of a card I’d designed through the letterboxes of galleries and shops I liked the look of.” She reckons she had a conversion rate of about 80%. “Most people would want to buy them. Then I did a show at Top Drawer – an exhibition where people with gift shops go to find interesting products – and was inundated with orders.”

The raw materials of each card cost Gardner 60p and she’d sell them for £1.20 to £1.50. “It was very profitable. I started to make quite a lot of money, but it was exhausting. I’d spend my time making the raw materials, which people came to my house to collect, sometimes at 2am, when I had two small children. I started thinking, I need to be able to do this in a way where it doesn’t involve quite so much handmade, hands-on work and so many people coming to my house.”...

Read the rest of the article here by visiting the Guardian website >

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About Caroline Gardner

Caroline Gardner is best known as one of the UK's leading and most prolific accessory, gift and stationery designers.

Her distinctive designs now stretch across various product categories, including paper, accessories and lifestyle, all linked by her design hand print of quirky use of colour and placement.

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