How To Become a Greeting Card Artist
Being an artist of any kind is something that requires a lot of passion, skill and patience. Most of the time, it’s having the ability to use your imagination or create from what you know. Becoming an artist requires a bit of a path, but a path that is different for everyone. There are so many different directions, doors and connections that you can make along the way; it would be impossible to walk in one straight direction. But what makes becoming a greeting card artist different?
While there isn’t a straight path to becoming a greeting card artist, we at Madison Park Greetings would love to share with you some dos and don’ts when it comes to the greeting card industry:
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Where to start?
Before you create your art, you have to know about the art. Just like sculptors do their research by visiting museums or writers read other stories in their genre, a greeting card artist must be familiar with the greeting card industry. Go to an array of high-end specialty stores, grocery and pharmacy stores, and browse through their displays and card categories. A card may seem like it’s made uniquely for you, but it’s universal. Think about the Sender and Recipient relationship; why does this card’s art and verse work together, and how many Senders can it work for? (For example: Is this card suitable for a Sender who has a ‘distant relationship’ or has a ‘close relationship’ with the intended recipient of the card?) Pay close attention to how you can be unique in your categories.
Who are you?
First and foremost, you will want to decide on a style and brand identity, which is how you will be viewed by customers. This can include your name, logo, tone and fonts you will use in your designs. Think about who your audience is; are your whimsical and cartoon creations perfect for children, or do your calligram designs seem more marketable for adults? As a designer, think about your technique. Do you like to use watercolor? Paint? Sketch? Work digitally? While most artwork tends to lean towards knowing how to create digitally, creating art by hand isn’t a lost art form. People like to connect with artists and enjoy knowing that they’re not just in front of a computer.
PRO TIP–> Not sure what your style is? Start by creating some birthday card designs. Birthday cards are the most popular greeting card!
Creating your Portfolio
Gather supplies and make preliminary sketches to create a portfolio of your best work to show to publishers and freelancers. Create marketable greeting cards that focus on a certain holiday or event. It’s also important to think about what sells. Even if your card idea isn’t in a store and you think your idea is unique, you might not see it being sold because it simply doesn’t sell well. Be sure to focus on what’s trending for the customers who are passing your cards in a store or scrolling through online. Think about how you can best represent what you love with the balance of what will sell. And make sure to pay close attention to the verse.
PRO TIP–> Based on the way most cards are organized in display racks, consider where the words will go on your greeting card. Genuinely, the top third of the card is the most eye-catching.
Submitting Your Work
Find greeting card publishers, including small boutique publishers, who work with artists that use your style. Be realistic as to whether your style is suitable to the publisher you want to send it to. (For example: Madison Park Greetings has a contemporary and modern aesthetic, so an artist whose style has traditional subject matter may not receive a favorable response.) Submit your greeting card designs (this may include samples of your cards, prices, contact details, and a link to your website or Instagram). When sending your work, make sure not to send the originals, as you may not get them back. Instead, share jpegs or pdf files at a decent resolution. (Sending print ready high-resolution files is not necessary.) If you don’t hear back in the allotted time the website or confirmation email said you would, it’s okay to kindly follow-up about your submission.
PRO TIP–> Before submitting your work, be sure to look at what companies are looking for. Sometimes, companies are only seeking seasonal designs, and you can’t always assume that they will look at everything you send them. Some companies will publish a guideline like: Send Christmas Cards in January every year. Therefore, those particular guidelines should be followed.
Practice Makes Perfect
It may take some companies weeks, even months, to review the work you submitted to them. Don’t be discouraged by this. In the meantime, continue to familiarize yourself with the greeting card industry, update your portfolio, and work as a freelancer if you can. While there’s no official education path to become a greeting card artist, a design degree or previous experience couldn’t hurt. (Practice makes perfect!) Attend Trade Shows to network and meet people in the industry. However, if you can’t attend a show, sign up for Trade Magazines like Stationery Trends, so that you’re always up-to-date. There are also many great Facebook Groups that you can join to meet other people in the field. Consider taking part in the numerous art challenges that are posted by companies on platforms such as Instagram or Facebook. And, of course, be on the look out for greeting card contests!
PRO TIP #1–> Don’t take rejection personally. Each and every publisher is seeking specific artwork that goes beyond what you think they may want to see. Even if your art is breathtaking and professional, that may not be the style they are currently seeking, and that’s okay! At the end of the day, as long as you are having fun perfecting your craft, that’s all that matters.
We hope you found some of these tips helpful and useful! Be sure to check out Madison Park’s Mother’s Day Greeting Card Contest and follow us on Instagram for more diverse greeting cards! Best of luck to you on your artistic endeavors!