Don’t bin them! 10 inventive ways to upcycle this year’s Christmas cards.

With the end of the festive season upon us, it’s time for the decorations to come down & be packed away for another year. But what do you do with all the Christmas cards that have been lovingly sent to you? Here at thortful we don’t want to see them in a landfill, so we’ve come up with our top ten tips for recycling them:

1. Gift tags – One of the best tricks of the trade: simply cut your old cards into a shape of your choice, grab a hole punch and add some string or ribbon!|

Tags
2. Postcards – Use the card front as a postcard to send to your loved ones next year (just be sure it’s not going back to the same person!)

3. Magnets – Get the kids involved! You can cut your cards into small shapes and use stick-on magnets to create the perfect fridge decorations for next Christmas.

4. Bookmarks – One of the simplest and quickest transformations for your old cards: cut a long strip and punch a hole in one end to add a bookmark tassle. You might want to include a homemade bookmark with any books you give away next Christmas to add a more personal touch to your gift!

5. Coasters – Grab a pair of scissors and some laminate film to create your Christmas coasters. You can even stick two together to give your coasters a double-sided twist!

6. Decorations – Pretty cut-outs, a hole-punch, and some string or ribbon is all you need to make beautiful hanging decorations for the tree next year!

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7. Christmas planner – The front of your Christmas card will make the perfect cover for next year’s planner. All you need is a few sheets of paper, a hole punch, and some ribbon to secure together at the top. Once complete, you’ll be able to fill the pages with your Christmas shopping and to-do lists!

8. Place cards – The perfect way to set the table for next year’s Christmas dinner.

9. Bunting – Cut your cards into triangles and fold each top over a piece of string or ribbon, securing with glue. By hanging this in the house, you’ll be setting the perfect scene for the festive season.

Bunting
10. Wreath – With a little bit of patience and artistic flair, you can create your very own wreath to decorate the interior of your home. After cutting your cards and securing in a circular shape with glue, simply punch a hole and add some ribbon to hang on your doors!

 

 

 

A Cup of Tea With…Hoppy Bunnies

If you caught some of our excellent Instagram takeover by Lucy Player from Hoppy Bunnies over the weekend, you’ll have been treated to a glimpse of those cute little critters she illustrates! We sat down for a cup of tea with Lucy and asked her for the lowdown on where the idea for bunnies came from, her creative inspo and the design process…

Lucy Player: the genius behind those cute little Hoppy Bunnies!

Lucy Player: the genius behind those cute little Hoppy Bunnies!

Your cards are based solely around cute bunnies – what was the inspiration behind this?

It all came about from a project I worked on at university… We’re talking 8 years ago now, which is a little scary! As part of my graphic design degree we had to do a typographic piece, creating our own fonts. Out out this came the Bunny Rabbit Alphabet, which started my whole little obsession for drawing bunnies! 

What comes first with your designs – the pun or illustration?

It can vary – sometimes a bunny pun will hop (sorry, I can’t help myself) into my head and that dictates the illustration. But now I’m focusing much more on the greeting card market, I tend to think more in terms of occasions, and how to tailor a bunny character to it… to be fair, replace ‘Happy’ with ‘Hoppy’ for most occasions and you’re on to a winner!

Where do you seek inspiration?

The internet is a wonderful thing, let’s face it. Having so much creative work at the click of a mouse – be that on Pinterest, blogs, Twitter, Instagram, or sites like thorful, Folksy and Not On The High Street, it’s so valuable to see what other designers and makers are up to, and what new trends are emerging. 

What do you do if you find yourself stuck in a creative rut?

Look on the sites mentioned above, generally! But sometimes you just need to get out the house with a notebook and a pencil, and scribble away without caring about the outcome. A good brainstorm or a chat with a friend can always help get ideas flowing. 

Lucy's bestselling Wedding design!

Lucy’s bestselling Wedding design!

What’s your best-selling card?

The Hoppy Couple wedding card tends to go down quite well, and I’ve recently worked up designs for same-sex marriages, too.

Can you give us a sneak description of what you’re working on next?

I’ve always got a little list of card design ideas on the go that I’m gradually working my way through, but I’m also looking to expand out of cards and in to more prints and gifting… watch this space!

Whose work do you admire?

I’m a big fan of The Old English Co – just really simple typographic pieces that have a lovely tone of voice. And Alison Hardcastle has such a good way with colour, simple shapes and wonky lines. And finally, Crispin Finn have an amazing range of 2-colour designs which just ooze cool.

What’s your favourite social media platform to showcase your designs?

I’m a bit obsessed with Instagram – I have accounts for my personal life, the Hoppy Bunnies, and my graphic design business – each has their own purpose and their own following. It’s just a great visual platform, both to be seen, and to see others’ work.

Tell us a good joke…

What’s the first sign of Madness? Suggs walking up your driveway… (sorry, such a ‘dad joke’, and probably goes over the heads of anyone born post-1990!)

Lastly, what exciting work plans do you have on the horizon?

I did my first trade show this year at Progressive Greetings Live, and it went so well that I’ve booked in again for June 2017!

Discover the full range of Hoppy Bunnies cards here!

10 Inspiring Quotes for Creatives

Lacking creative inspiration this week? Need a little kernel of wisdom to get those creative juices flowing and help with those card designs? Then look no further! We’ve collected some of our favourite creative quotes to keep you feeling fresh and inspired 🙂

10 Inspiring Quotes for Creatives

Have you got any inspiring quotes to share?

We’d love to hear them! Tweet us @thortful.

Our Very First #thortfulillustrates Design Brief!

Psssst… In case you didn’t know, one of our original thortful creators Jon Higham teaches illustration to the rather lucky students of Sussex Coast College, Hastings! In aid of givingsomething back, a little while ago, thortful decided to team up with Jon and his students to give them a shiny new project: to design some AWESOME greeting cards!

Students brief

Eager-faced and pencils in hand, ten budding illustration students all arrived at the thortful office to receive a live briefing this week, and we want to share some insider info on what we told them! 

The brief was to design three cards, for three of the top-selling occasion categories across the industry: Birthday, Thank You and New Home. With this in mind, we gave them some top tips on how to create fantastic (and most importantly!) commercial cards. Check out this informative guide we created:

7 Tips for creating amazing greeting cards

Psssst… In case you didn’t know, one of our original thortful creators Jon Higham teaches illustration to the rather lucky students of Sussex Coast College, Hastings! In aid of giving a little something back, a little while ago, thortful decided to team up with Jon and his students to give them a shiny new project: to design some AWESOME greeting cards! Eager-faced and pencils in hand, ten budding illustration students all arrived at the thortful office to receive a live briefing this week, and we want to share some insider info on what we told them :) The brief was to design three cards, for three of the top-selling occasion categories across the industry: Birthday, Thank You and New Home. With this in mind, we gave them some top tips on how to create fantastic - and most importantly commercial - cards! Check out this informative guide we created: Biscuits were eaten, cards were studied and assessed, and ideas were mulled over, but to see the finished results you’ll have to wait until October! Hopefully the project will offer students some valuable work experience so that they develop the skills and confidence to work professionally, not to mention help them to get on board as thortful creators and conquer the greeting card market… Stay tuned to our social accounts for some behind the scenes shots of our students working on their designs in the build up to the submission date!

Biscuits were eaten, cards were studied and assessed, and ideas were mulled over, but to see the finished results you’ll have to wait until October! Hopefully the project will offer the students some valuable work experience, so that they gain some insight into the skills and confidence needed to work professionally, not to mention help them to get on board as thortful creators and conquer the greeting card market…

Stay tuned to all thortful news with our social accounts for some behind-the-scenes shots of our students working on their designs in the build up to the submission date!

@thortful

#thortfulillustrates

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The Chelsea Flower Show Edit

Wild Flower Card

Wild Flowers Card

It’s time for our favourite annual floral extravaganza- The Chelsea Flower Show  and 2016’s is a petal packed delight. Don’t fret if you didn’t bag tickets we’re bursting with beautiful blooms to share with you.

Since 1982, the Royal Horticulture Society has always named a “Rose of the Year” and we can see why, these fragrant blooms are a regular favourite. Share the romance of this lovely flower with Liane Brookes’s  stunning card.

Roses in Bloom

Roses in Bloom

Each year there is always a memorable poppies tribute, with this year’s provided by Phillip Johnson, keep the memories and sentiment alive with Damian Ward’s delightful photo.

Poppies in Meadow

Poppies in Meadow

What better way to celebrate Harrod’s English eccentrics garden than with these fuchsia foxgloves with their tiny trumpet shaped blooms. Don Hooper‘s snap captures them in all their glory here.

Foxgloves

Foxgloves

For fans of a tipple, you’re not being left in the shade, Cloudy Bay’s garden designed by Sam Ovens is designed to echo the flavours of Sauvignon Blanc. Either way we feel wine and flowers are a great combination and this lovely card by Cat Coquilette is the perfect way to share this sentiment.

Vino Veritas Card

Vino Veritas Card

The Queen’s 90th birthday is also being honoured with a garden of it’s own. Sure to be full of busy lizzie’s and lots of other lovely floral tributes too.

HRH 90th Birthday Card

HRH 90th Birthday Card

The Watahan East & West Garden, designed by Chihori Shibiyama & Yano Tea is the perfect example of Japanese inspired elegance. Share the beauty of the delicate Sakura with this lovely card by Jenny Lloyd.

Geisha and Sakura Blossom

Geisha and Sakura Blossom

Finally it wouldn’t be a real garden event without some lawn ornamentation too. Here’s some gnomes courtesy of Sophie Corrigan to finish off your florals in style.

Garden Gnome Card

Garden Gnome Card

If you’ve still not got your fill of florals then fear not we’ve got a great selection of flower filled cards to help you brighten someone’s day.

Starting out and getting seen: 4 top tips for thortful success!

So you’ve created your account, customised your profile, and uploaded some fantastic card designs…but what now?

As with all new creative ventures, getting your thortful cards in front of the right audience will really help to ensure they are a success, especially if you’re starting your design career from scratch. Read on for our top tips to make sure your cards get seen by the right people and start to become the bestsellers they’re meant to be!

Tell your friends!

Tell your friends!

1. Start with who you know

The best place to start is with your pre-existing network of superfans: friends and family! They’re already your biggest supporters, and your cards are giving them a way to send beautiful, unique designs made by someone they truly care about – you!

It’s not just friends and family that can help you out here though: past clients or colleagues, old teachers, your hairdresser or even the postie! Anyone you know (even if an acquaintance) will already be a ‘warm connection’ for you, so will be more likely to be interested in your cards.

Chat to them in person, and try to make it personal by telling your story: where did your inspiration come from? Make sure to ask their opinion whilst you’re at it too – it will give you valuable feedback and give them a sense of being involved with the designs themselves, which will mean they’re more likely to tell their friends about them or buy them themselves!

Engage an influencer

Engage an influencer

2. Approach an influencer

Write down a hitlist of people who could really help you if they see how great your cards are. They might be people with strong social networks or an engaged audience which might be interested in your cards: bloggers are a great place to start, as they have dedicated followings who they can influence.

But how to identify these people? Maybe your cards feature some cute kittens, so you might want to approach a cat-themed magazine to feature them, or perhaps your cards show some Star Wars characters and might be worthy of a mention in a fan group’s newsletter?

These people won’t necessarily be too easy to get on side, so you need to think about how you can convince them. This is a matter of playing to their interests! What will they get out of featuring your cards? Will it interest their audience? An endorsement from an influencer could be just the thing to kick-start your sales, so get chatting!

Get social

Get social

3. Get social

Identify which social network best suits your potential audience and work to develop your following! Whilst Twitter is great, people often find that their posts can get lost in all the noise, whereas Instagram can be a great way to showcase your cards and pique a potential customer’s interest whilst remaining authentic to your brand!

Make sure you’re posting quality content by sharing and re-sharing things which will interest your audience. Behind-the-scenes and ‘work in progress’ imagery works really well for creatives, so give your followers an insight into who you are and how you design.

Share your cards themselves! No-one wants to be spammed with sales posts all the time, but if you’ve uploaded a new design, or have a card for an upcoming occasion, perhaps a new collection, this is a great way to create a buzz around the launch of your thortful collection.

Send your cards

Send your cards

4. Send your cards!

Of course, if you don’t, then how can you ask anyone else to? But more importantly, once someone sees the quality and uniqueness of your card design in their own hands, they’re ten times more likely want to send them to their network! Send your cards to business contacts, bloggers, even your aunt on her birthday: the more you can send, the more people you’ll convince.

Do you have any tips for getting started and getting seen? Share them with us here or tweet us 🙂

Post adapted from Red Lemon Club.

Give a Grad a gift

Good Luck Card

ExamGoodLuck

We’ve all been there – some of us more recently than others – however the pressure is something I’m sure you remember well! Whilst some people breeze through their exams, soaking up endless notes, others find remembering more information than they’ll ever need to know somewhat more challenging. Unfortunately, it’s something all of us have to go through before we embark on the next stages of our career. At some point, all of us have sat in a school hall, willing the clock to slow down as we painstakingly scribble down answers.

Whilst we can give you a list of suggestions to help beat the stress and make this time easier for someone going through ‘the exam period’ – listen to classical music, take a walk, play with puppies etc, thortful also believe that letting them know they’re in your thoughts with a Good Luck keepsake, can’t really go amiss.

Here’s a few of our favourites to get you started…

For the creative writer and the aspiring artist

Untitled design (25)

For the all-round grad student

Untitled design (26)

For the smart ar*se

Smart Arse

..and for everyone else, because we think EVERYONE deserves a massive pat on the back!

Good Luck

That’s it from us, now it’s over to you to send those Good Luck vibes!

The Best of British

With St George’s Day here, we thought it was about time we celebrated some things which are quintessentially British, from tea and crumpets to our bright red buses!

Tea

In at number one we have tea, whether it’s afternoon tea, tea and cake or tea and sympathy you’re in need of; we’ve got you covered.

afternoon tea

Next up is sport, be it rugby, football or bowls we’re obsessed and to quote 10CC “we don’t like cricket” we LOVE it!

cricket

Pets, are another British passion, and whilst the British bulldog often gets a bad rep we think our version is rather cute!

From pets to objects of national pride! The red telephone box is a British icon right up there with Big Ben, and though there’s not so much demand for them these days, we’ve still got a soft spot for these shiny red boxes!

phone boxWeather is another thing the British do well, given our ever changeable climate, and that we juggle rain one minute and blue skies the next, it’s no wonder we’re so obsessed!

weatherLast but not Least is British humour, from Monty Python to Ricky Gervais its beloved around the globe and our wry take on the day-to-day is one of the things that make us truly great, here’s two of our favourite cards from British creators Dean Morris and Mike Williams which showcase it in style.

quinoaBritTake  a look at the rest of the delightful cards in our delightful “Best of British” range.

We’re all thinking about Coffee

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We’re all familiar with the feeling. Monday morning rolls around again and the alarm goes off, way too early. Snooze. If you’re one of the 70 million people in the UK that drink coffee every day, you may know that it’s UK Coffee Week.

As big coffee drinkers at thortful, we’re giving you the run down of all the benefits of drinking coffee alongside our favourite caffeine-fuelled greeting cards!

1. Coffee can improve energy levels and make you smarter.

Coffee doesn’t just keep you awake, it may literally make you smarter as well.

The active ingredient in coffee is caffeine, which is a stimulant and the most commonly consumed psychoactive substance in the world.

Image: Mariam Soliman

Image: Mariam Soliman

(Science bit: Caffeine blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, which leads to a stimulant effect. This improves energy levels, mood and various aspects of brain function.)

2. Coffee helps you burn fat

Amen. Do we need more of a reason to enjoy our morning latte?

Image:  Chris Williams

Image: Chris Williams

If you drink coffee, serving it black is your best option for weight loss. Black coffee is calorie-free..it’s the cream and sugar that can pack on the pounds. Plus studies have shown that caffeine might also offer some calorie-burning benefits that help your weight-loss efforts.

3. It makes you happy!

There might be a reason why a cup of coffee can turn a morning frown into a smile.

Image: Sophie Corrigan

Image: Sophie Corrigan

Studies have found that women who drank four or more cups of coffee every day were 20 percent less likely to suffer from depression. One cause is the fact that caffeinated drinks can tap into almost every known reward system for the brain

(Science bit: Coffee boosts dopamine production in the brain.)

4. It protects your heart

Image: Hongyi Hu

Image: Hongyi Hu

A study undertaken in Korea, found people who drink three to five cups of coffee a day are less likely to develop clogged arteries that could lead to heart attacks.

And finally….

5. Coffee is the biggest source of Antioxidants in the Western diet

For people who eat a standard Western diet, coffee may actually be the healthiest aspect of the diet. That’s because coffee contains a massive amount of antioxidants.

Therefore, this makes coffee one of the healthiest beverages on the planet. Period.

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Image: Sarah Satrun

If you still haven’t had your caffeine fix, or if you know someone that just can’t get enough then browse our thortful coffee cards and make someone smile!

Can You Name At Least 5 Women Artists For Women’s History Month?

Frida Kahlo, Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, Nickolas Muray Collection, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin

This March, for Women’s History Month, the National Museum of Women in the Arts are leading a social media campaign to help everyone answer the question, Can you name five women artists?

Join the museum and other institutions, including the National Gallery of Art, Brooklyn Museum of Art, and Guggenheim Bilbao, to share stories of women artists using the hashtag #5womenartists on Twitter and Instagram. Find out more about the initiative in this artnet article.

Are you interested in participating? Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Challenge your friends and family to name five women artists.
  2. Tell us who your favourite women artists are and why.
  3. Share a work by a woman artist at a museum or gallery near you.
  4. Explore NMWA’s artist profiles to discover artists you may not know.

To kick off the month, learn more about five women artists from the museum’s collection who broke barriers and influenced future generations:

In 1921, Alma Woodsey Thomas (1891–1978) was the first fine arts student to graduate from Howard University in Washington, D.C. During her 35-year career as a teacher at a D.C. junior high school, she was devoted to her students and organized art clubs, lectures, and student exhibitions.

Rosalba Carriera (1675–1757), a member of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture, was responsible for elevating the status of pastel from its use for sketches to a respected medium in its own right. Over the span of its existence, the Academy, which had approximately 450 members in total, only admitted 15 women.

At the age of 52, Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717) and her young daughter embarked on a risky trip to the Dutch colony of Suriname in South America. She recorded indigenous flora and fauna and helped 18th-century scientists understand metamorphosis.

Hester Bateman (1709–1794) inherited her husband’s silver workshop after he died. She made the business profitable and her descendants helped the workshop thrive until the mid-19th century. The key to her success was the integration of modern technology with classical design—a cost-effective way to attract middle-class buyers.

Referenced in her New York Times obituary as the “wife of Diego Rivera, the noted painter,” Frida Kahlo (1907–1954) soared in fame posthumously. She became the first 20th-century Mexican artist to have work acquired by the Louvre. In the 1980s, numerous books were published about her work by feminist art historians and others.

— Stacy Meteer is the communications and marketing associate at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.