Are you an illustrator or designer looking to make money through your art?
This post will walk you through the basics of launching your own stationery business, from finding inspirations, creating your own collections to finding manufactures and printers!

Aside from working at Yes, I have also recently launched my own greeting card business (about 1 year ago),
I started my own stationery business as a way to help me learn and improve my drawing skills! 

I have put together some important factors to consider when launching your own greeting card and stationery business! Please note this is from my own personal experience and as with everything there is no right or wrong way to do things! I am still new to this industry and continuously learning!

What are stationery?

Stationery products can vary but typically it includes greeting cards, bespoke invitations, art-prints, patches, pins, notebooks and calendars!  Brands such as Paperchase, Caroline Gardener and  Rifle Paper Co are great examples of successful stationery business! One thing most have in common is that they all first start out with creating greeting cards! This is post will focus on mainly on the business of greeting cards!

Sell your illustrations as Notebooks

Sell your illustrations as prints and greeting cards

What are Greeting Cards?

Greeting cards are essentially folded card paper with graphics, illustrations or typography on it, greeting cards need to be sentimental and mostly given to someone on a special occasions! The most popular occasions include but not limited too:

  • Birthday
  • Christmas
  • Valentines
  • Congratulations
  • Thank you
  • Mothers Day
  • Fathers Day
  • Anniversary
  • Wedding 
  • Sympathy 
  • Good Luck 
  • New Home 

How to create sellable Greeting Cards!

Greeting cards is the cheapest and quickest way for designers and artist to see their illustration on tangible products! however standing out from a saturated industry can be extremely challenging!  Below are some of my recommended tips on getting started!

Free email-course on the essentials

1. Trend Research

Before launching your career as a greeting cards designer, My top advice is to attend trade shows in your area, this will help to understand more about the market trends.

I love TopDrawer and SpringFair in the UK. You will be creativity inspired and the best way to learn is to see what your competitors are doing and work on finding your unique selling point.

Trend presentation at Spring Fair 2019

2. Work in ranges/collections

Avoid doing individual cards instead try to design at least  6 to max 12 card for each collection! Work in ranges also known as collections.  Have a set of 6 - 12 card range/collection which when displayed along side each other on a shop display are unified, consistent in style, and look good together. For example if you are creating floral wedding cards, then design at least 6 or maximum 12 different wedding cards using a floral theme. 

Mothers Day Collection

3. Create for multiple occasions

Before approaching any shops or publishers and trade fairs, create at least a minimum 50 designs for multiple occasions. Buyers want to be able to have the choice of selecting cards that appeal to their audience! Please try to enjoy the process, take your time to build up your collections!

Wedding Collections

Local Market Arts Fairs

Sell at Local shops

4. Print in small quantity

Avoid printing in large quantities, instead work with local printers or online print services to test the quality (most provide sample prints so you can learn more on paper stock and quality)!
For greeting cards , wrapping paper and art print I use ! To print your illustrations on products such as pocket mirrors, notebooks and stickers I recommend Awesome Merchandise!

5. Local art fairs and markets

Once you have enough designs, try to take part in local art fairs and markets to get an idea on what sells. It is a lot cheaper than attending big trade fairs! Best way to find local markets is probably through instagram or facebook!
I also follow organisations such as Just A Card and Greeting Card Association that provides useful resources for greeting card designers!

6. Sell online

If you are starting out and don't want to deal with printing and posting costs! or perhaps you are not confident yet to do trade fairs and markets then I highly recommend to use your designs on POD sites such as Thorful, Redbubble and Society6, again this is a good way to test your designs and see which ones are most sellable before printing them yourself or approaching card Publishers!!

7. Show your work

Always share your designs on platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest as it will help you to find out which designs are popular before deciding to print them as greetings cards.

Launching any business is difficult and there is no such thing as overnight success, It's easy to feel overwhelmed or doubt yourself! as with anything, it takes years of trail, error and tons of patience in order to reach your goals!
I am still working full-time and giving myself time develop various collections for my greeting card business!

If you are looking to start your own design business and in need of inspiration, you may want to check out our post on graphic design trends and How to get started as a graphic designer!


from Adobe Certified Instructors and industry professionals

About the author 

Shumi Perhiniak

Shumi is a self-taught graphic designer, in 2012 she took one-year sabbatical career break, where she devoted her time studying Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator. In just after 6 months she started freelancing and within a year become a Certified Photoshop Expert. Over the years she worked both in-house and in agency roles as a retoucher, artworker and moved on from junior to senior design roles.

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