A Cup of Tea With…Sabah Nazir

This week we handed over the thortful instagram channel to Sabah Designs. Sabah’s promise is that all her cards are designs with love, produced with passion and finished with extreme dexterity, right here in the UK! With a specialist range of Eid cards and the upcoming festivities, we thought we’d find out what makes her tick…over a cup of tea, of course!

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Do you find that Eid cards are still relatively niche in the industry?

As Eid has become a stronger and more prominent card sending occasion now than in previous years, we have experienced a sharp rise in high street retailers inquiring and subsequently stocking up our Eid Cards. We have also experienced high sales volumes from online card and gift retailers which indicates that customers have now a wider choice of Eid Cards available to them.

Tell us how you started your career in illustrating.

I started my greeting card company back in 2004 designing and producing hand embroidered greeting cards. Primarily selling through trade shows and agents. However, when we started exporting abroad, and as general demand began to exceed supply, I had to think of ways to manage stock whilst still being innovative. I started combining tiny hand drawn illustrations to my embroidered cards, which gradually took over my portfolio and as they say, the rest is history!

Sabah Designs - Andalucia collection

Sabah Designs – Andalucia collection

What’s your bestselling card?

Since its release in 2013, this bold Arabic Calligraphy card from our ‘Andalucia Collection’ has been one of our bestsellers. It seems to appeal to both male and female customers alike.

How are you planning on spending Eid this year?

Eid celebrations will begin with the family getting dressed up in our finery to attend morning prayers. We will then make our way to visit family and friends where gifts and plenty of food and drink will be exchanged!

Talk us through your creative process when designing a card.

Most of my designs start off as hand drawn sketches, which I then enhance and manipulate in Photoshop or illustrator. I love using modern typography and fonts and am constantly experimenting with new lettering styles.

Who inspires you? 

Hard working people.

Tell us something nobody knows about you.

I have never watched ‘Lord of The Rings’.

If you had to choose one item out of your kit to rescue from a burning fire – what would it be? 

I would have to say my hard drive.

Lastly, can you let us in on what you’re working on next?

As soon as Eid is over, I will sit down with my team and go through this years sales and then start planning and designing our Eid 2017 collection.

(You can never be too organised! )

Discover the full range of Eid cards here

A Cup of Tea With…Holly Rutter

In case you missed it, Holly Rutter took over our Instagram account this weekend as our #thortfulTakeover creator, and she completely owned it with her brilliant look at her working life.

We got a glimpse of what she was currently creating, as well as her Pinterest-worthy desk space, which we would quite like in the thortful office!

In a bid to get to know the fabulous illustrator further, we sat down with Holly to discuss who inspires her cheeky designs and what she listens to on her creative playlist…

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Tell us one thing people wouldn’t know about typography…
I think the best typography isn’t always the most traditionally perfect typography. I am a bit obsessed with different peoples’ handwriting, and I love seeing the way illustrators form their letters. Sometimes the little mistakes and quirks are what makes typography authentic and unique.

What comes first the pun or the drawing?
More often than not it’s the pun. I carry a little notebook around with me in case I have a pun brainwave when I’m out and about. Sometimes I’ll dream them too, though once I woke myself up in the middle of the night because I thought I had come up with ‘the best pun of all time’. In a sleepy haze of what I thought at the time was genius, I wrote it down in my notebook and then went promptly back to sleep. When I woke up the next morning, I saw that all I had written was ‘draw a picture of a naked bum and instead of Happy Birthday, write Happy Buttday’. Needless to say this hasn’t made it onto a card design yet!

What inspires your designs?
Everything and anything! It’s probably a combination of different artists I admire, animals I love and whatever food I am obsessed with that week/month. Sometimes it’s a perfect storm of all three.

What do you prefer – typography or illustrating?
If I had to pick one it would be illustrating, but a combination of the two is always brilliant. They go together like tea and biscuits.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career so far?
I think getting started was the hardest part really. I’ve been drawing since I was dexterous enough to hold a pencil, but I only started my business ‘for real’ a couple of years ago. Finding a unique style and aesthetic is of course difficult too, but just getting up in the morning and deciding to make a proper go of it was the biggest challenge.

Tell us your favourite social media app and why…
Instagram, hands down! It’s usually the first thing I flick through in the mornings and it’s a constant source of inspiration! I love the little visual snapshots you get into different illustrators’ processes. I also love it as a way of sharing what I’m up to – so many opportunities have come my way in the last year because of putting bits and bobs out there on the platform.

Tell us three of your favourite illustrators…
This is like asking me which Ben and Jerry’s flavour is my favourite (the answer is all of them). One of my all-time favourite illustrators is Dallas Clayton. His view of the world is so beautifully joyful and his illustrations are simply perfect.

I love Reza Farazmand (Poorly Drawn Lines). Pretty much every comic he draws has me wheezing with laughter. He’s a total genius!

Dick Vincent’s work is beautiful and I couldn’t be more in love with his typography. He balances nostalgia with a fresh point of view really brilliantly, and his illustrations are so beautifully unique.

I can’t count, so Catherine Faulkner is also a ridiculously talented pen wielder and a favourite of mine – her drawings are funny and irreverent, and most importantly wonderfully silly!

What’s Plan B for you?
Become a baked potato. I think I’d be really good at it.

What’s on your iPod?
A lot of older stuff – my taste in music was massively influenced by the tunes my Dad used to play me when I was little. My favourite band is The Beatles and I love Folk, Blue Grass and Motown. There is also an embarrassingly large chunk of my iPod memory taken up by ABBA. The first live gig I ever went to was an ABBA tribute band called Bjorn Again when I was 9, and I had quite possibly one of the best nights of my entire life.

Lastly, what’s the best design you’ve ever created?
At the moment my favourite things to draw are dancing avocados, but my two most popular designs are my Dwight K Schrute birthday card and my F*CK you’re old card. I guess there are a lot of potty mouthed Office fans out there (which I absolutely love)!

See more of Holly’s designs on thortful here.

Glastonbury Survival Kit: The Essentials

 

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Glastonbury. The home of Michael & Emily Eavis, rolling fields, the Pyramid Stage, thousands of festival-goers, mud, rain, a sprinkle of sunshine, a lot of cider and some of the biggest music performers in the world.

Yes, it’s very nearly that time again, and whilst Glastonbury-goers are praying it’s not a washout, we’ve compiled the essential list of festival bits you’ll need to survive the Somerset music mayhem come rain or shine…

A sturdy and reliable tent
Do yourself a favour and make sure you invest in a good-quality, well-structured tent – like this one by Nic Farrell, of course! Yes it might set you back a little extra money, but it saves you being cold, damp and sleeping with a collapsed tent on your face.

Design: Nic Farrell

Design: Nic Farrell

Waterproofs
It wouldn’t be Glastonbury without a downpour, let’s face it! Don’t get caught out in torrential rain – buy a waterproof mac or poncho that’s going to keep you dry whilst you’re dancing away!

Design: Silvina De Vita

Alcohol
Whether you’re perched round a campfire with friends or heading into the madness of the festival, be sure to have a refreshing can or bottle in hand to truly kick-off the festival spirit.

Design: Cat Coquillette

Design: Cat Coquillette

Wet wipes
We believe these little white sheets are a slice of heaven at a music festival! Whether you’re scrubbing your make-up off, having a dry wash (five days without a shower can be tough!), or using them to try and make the toilets as sanitary as possible – don’t go anywhere without packing a couple of packs to see you through!

Wellies
It wouldn’t be a festival without the obligatory pair of wellies. Come rain or shine, they’ll protect you from all sorts of weather, including the famous Glastonbury mud!

Design: Ollie Bright

Design: Ollie Bright

Dry shampoo
You’ll be going days without a shower, so banish any sort of greasy, festival hair and spritz with dry-shampoo. Your hair will be looking as fresh if you had just stepped out of a nice, warm bubble bath! 😉 This card by Sarah Defriend just one in her collection of festival goddesses!

Design: Sarah Defriend

Design: Sarah Defriend

Backpack
Chances are, you’ll be too busy having fun running around and soaking up the atmosphere to want to carry your phone, money, camera etc. in your hand. Purchase a reliable backpack/bumbag which you can strap onto your body, and not have to worry you’re going to drop and lose any of your belongings!

Design: Angela Chick

Design: Angela Chick

BRING THE FUN!
Most importantly, Glastonbury and any other festival, is for letting your hair down and having fun. Round up your best group of mates, make sure you have all your festival essentials and prepare to laugh and dance A LOT. Most importantly stay safe and don’t end up a Baked Alaska (find out what that is here).

Design: Blumoose

Design: Blumoose

 

Got an occasion to celebrate? Make sure you send a thortful card.

Strictly Fashion: Royal Ascot

Royal Ascot is in full swing and today marks the start of Ladies Day – a chance to wear your poshest frock and most extravagant hat.

But did you know there’s STRICT rules regarding what you can wear to the racing festival? Aintree this isn’t, and your attire at Royal Ascot is judged by the length of  your dress, heel height and hat width!

Read on to discover the fashion rules you wouldn’t dare to break in front of the Queen!

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Illustration by Jax Barrett

Royal Enclosure

If you’re lucky enough to be enjoying a day out at the Races in the same enclosure as the Queen, then beware – there’s strict rules to follow!

Ladies:

  • Dresses and skirts can be no shorter than just above the knee!
  • Dresses and tops should have at least a strap of one inch or more.
  • Hats should have a solid base of 4 inches or more in diameter.
  • Strapless, off-the-shoulder and halter neck dresses are NOT allowed.
  • Fascinators are not deemed an acceptable choice of headwear.

Rose Hill demonstrates the acceptable style of dress perfectly with her chic, card design.

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Gentlemen:

  • Black or grey are the suit colours of choice to abide by.
  • A waistcoat and tie, top hat and plain black shoes are to be worn
  • You can only remove your top hat within a restaurant, private box, terrace or any other seating area within the Royal Enclosure Garden.

We’d imagine this is the sort of attire required for gentlemen, as illustrated by Ink & Ocean, but strictly in black or grey!

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The Royal Enclosure is certainly pretty strict when it comes to dress code, however, if you’re not gracing the same enclosure as our Queen, the other enclosures are much more relaxed. Phew!

Let us know if you’re attending and be sure to snap your Royal attire and share it with us on Twitter and Instagram @thortful.

GOOD LUCK!!

Get Out the Blanket: The Essential Items You Need To Throw The Perfect Picnic

Today marks the start of National Picnic Week – a whole week of celebrating eating open sandwiches, mini sausage rolls, juicy strawberries, and of course cupcakes!

Yes summer time is officially here, folks (believe it or not!), and there’s no better way to celebrate than with a Great British picnic!

So pack up that picnic basket, roll up a blanket and find a sunny spot to bask in the sunshine. We reveal the essential items you need to throw the best picnic you’ve ever had…

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A sturdy picnic basket

This is the backbone of your picnic spread, the centrepiece of your blanket – a basket that’s fit for carrying plates, napkins and cutlery for your feast.

Comfortable picnic blanket

You’re going to be led out, enjoying good food and company, so you need a super comfortable blanket to relax on. Extra points if it’s the typical chequered design!

Sunglasses

Chances are, it’s going to be a scorching day you’ve planned your picnic for (we Brits like to keep a tab on the weather at all times!), so  remember to pack a pair of sunnies and suncream. Nobody likes the lobster look on Monday mornings!

Strawberries

Nothing says a Great British summer more than fresh strawberries. Add some fresh cream and meringue bits to the mix and you have a mini-Eton mess!

Cucumber sandwiches

Refreshing and filling, sandwiches are the ‘first course’ of the picnic and quintessentially English!

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Crisps and dips

Whether your favourite flavour is sour cream & chive or salt & vinegar, you can’t beat dunking crisps into an assortment of dips. Hummus, cheese & chive and salsa anybody?

Sausage rolls & mini sausages

These more-ish snacks will have you reaching into the tub until there’s none left. Oops.

Carrot sticks

Another dipping essential and a slightly more healthy take on your picnic.

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Victoria sponge cake

Everybody needs something a little sweet after all the savoury food, and the sugary goodness of a Victoria Sponge is the perfect ending to a delicious picnic feast!

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Friends

Last and most importantly, your pals, because you can’t enjoy a picnic without some great company!

Card by Sarah Ray

Card by Sarah Ray

Looking for summer cards? Check out our selection here on thortful.

A Cup of Tea With…Ollie Brown

This month we’re celebrating typography, and naturally, this week’s Instagram #thortfulTakeover creator has a talent for it.

We sat down with Ollie Brown to discuss his love of travel, animals and of course, typography…

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You have a very distinct style of typography – where did you learn to perfect your skill? The style of typography was developed while making the logo for my website. I experimented with various shapes and line styles, aiming to make something unique and punchy, as well as being legible for easy reading. I made a full alphabet of my new typography to make sure it would work, and look good as part of my illustrations.

Animal puns feature heavily within your designs (and they’re very funny!) – what inspired you to run with this theme?
I’ve always had a love for nature and animals, constantly making sketches and drawings of animals from a young age, especially lions! This is part of the reason for a lot of my card designs. There’s such a large range of animals in the world, that there are near endless possibilities for new card puns! They are a topic that many can relate to, and quickly see the link between the pun and the illustration.

Another reason for using animals in my cards is my passion for travel. I’ve been lucky enough to see some amazing countries and the animals that live there, so the travel and nature aspect go hand in hand. I’m also starting to develop more travel based designs such as my ‘Bon Voyage‘ card, which incorporates a number of travel essentials for the avid traveller.

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Bon Voyage card

How often do you spend working on one illustration?
That’s a tough one, it really varies on the type of illustration being created. There are a number of attributes to consider with each card. What is the main animal/topic to be used? How many layers will be needed? How detailed does the card need to be? How much typography will be used? And so on.

Some designs can take a day or so if they are a short pun or message, and few layers. More complex designs can take up to a couple of days – sometimes even being recreated entirely if they do not look right for the message on the card. I will always sketch out a design with pen and paper first, so that adds to the time taken before I create the digital version and finalise it.

Is there anybody in particular who inspires your work?
I wouldn’t say there is any one person that inspires my work, I think it’s a useful exercise to see what others are creating, whether that be from a social media platform/exhibition/illustration fair perspective. It can be a great inspirational tool to see a new technique, use of colour and even new styles being created. It can provide you with an inspirational boost to experiment with your own designs and develop ideas in a different way.
What’s the ONE essential item you couldn’t live without for your job?
There are a few tools that I couldn’t live without, but my most essential would have to be my brush pen from Tiger. It allows me to draw with great precision, draw various line thicknesses and feels very smooth when drawing on paper. I highly recommend it.

Tell us something people would be surprised to know about you…
With all my travelling around the world, I’ve not yet set foot in the USA. Seems I’ve been to at least one country in most continents, just not there!

What’s your favourite social media platform?
That would have to be Instagram! It’s quick and easy to upload an image of something being worked on, photo filters are a nice touch, and there are instant responses from anyone looking at related topics to the hashtags.

Let us in on the next design you’re working on
I don’t want to give too much away, otherwise where’s the surprise?! Ok I’ll give you a taster – it’s not animal related this time, but links well to the holiday season!

Finally, name three designers who we should be following on social media…
There are a lot of great designers out there that deserve a follow – my top three would be:

Owen Gildersleeve – I’ve not had the privilege of meeting him, but I’m a big fan of his work! He creates a number of complex paper based designs, different shapes and layers cut out of paper to make striking compositions. I remember purchasing my first copy of computer arts magazine a few years ago, and being compelled to buy it because the cover was so interesting. It happened to be a piece of Owen’s work, I hadn’t heard of his work prior to buying the magazine, so it was a great discovery!

Maliki Favre – Another great illustrator to follow, her bold use of colour and elegant line work make some really stunning pieces. I always look forward to seeing her latest posts on Twitter and Instagram.
Basia Grzybowska (Basia Illustration) – I had the pleasure of meeting Basia at an illustration fair last year and was blown away by the impressive style and colours used. She is based in Brazil and her love for travel and nature was evident in her work. I think I was attracted to Basia’s work because of how well it related to my own! We still even keep in touch to hear how each other are doing which is nice!
See more of Ollie Brown’s designs on thortful here.

A Cup Of Tea With…Michelle Hird

This week sees multi-tasking busy bee, Michelle Hird take over our Instagram account as our #thortfulTakeover creator.

Michelle spills all the inspiration behind her successful ‘Hello LGBT’ range and the designers who WE should be following…

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You are one busy lady working in web design, editorial and branding to name a few! What made you branch out to illustration? 
I have always loved watching cartoons and playing computer games, like most 80’s children! From my first recollection I have always drawn and have always been the ‘arty kid’ at school! I am very fortunate that I am able to carry out one of my passions as an actual career path.

If you had to pick ONE sector to work in – what would it be?
I am working alongside Nestle at the moment; creating a series of motion graphic projects to help promote a healthy lifestyle whilst pregnant. Although I love illustration, it is extremely satisfying to see my illustrations being brought to life. Maybe animation is my new calling?

Who inspired you to design an LGBT card range?
My friend, Georgina Brombey was my inspiration for this idea. She complained that there wasn’t enough choice out there for her and her girlfriend and was thrilled when I introduced my custom made Valentine’s cards.

The aim of Hello LGBT is to broaden the greeting card market and to target lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders only. To give the LGBT community a charming and appealing choice of stationery for once, instead of the dull, typographic and generic options that are only available at present.

What’s been your hardest brief to work on?
I get a lot of briefs come through, which are most often than not pretty straight forward, but due to the huge sign off process (people throwing in their pennies worth), it can take forever to complete! I have been working on a straight-forward infographic (which would normally take me a couple of days!) for six months, and it’s still a work-in-progress.

Tell us a story behind one of your designs…
For my end of year project at University, I wrote and  illustrated a children’s story book; Binx The Jinx. Ten years later my style has progressed so much so, that I am re-illustrating it in hope to one day get it published – let’s just hope that doesn’t take me another ten years!

How do you switch off from your work?
I never really switch off. I get new ideas coming to me constantly! My only problem is getting the time to start/finish them. Though when I do find some down time, I like to chill with friends and family or explore London’s restaurants with my boyfriend.

Instagram or Snapchat?
I love both, but I would have to opt for Instagram! It is a fantastic, inspirational portal for me and a way to display my work.

Tell us something people would be surprised to know about you…
I was nominated for Best Illustration 2015 Award for an editorial piece I did for KFH Magazine. Although I didn’t win, it was still an accomplishment for me to be nominated, but hey…there’s always this year!

Lastly, who should we be following in the design world at the moment?
I follow so many designers and illustrators on all my social accounts and have numerous bookmarks that I have been collecting for years! However, there’s a special few I always return to time and time again:

Steven Scott – I adore his overall retro theme and muted colour palette.
Gabby Zapata – I am obsessed with anything Disney anyway, (naturally) so it’s no surprise I am in love with Gabby’s work.

Gemma Correll – My sister (who is also a designer/illustrator) always buys me a Gemma Correll greeting card whatever the occasion. Her minimal style and palette is instantly recognisable and her sense of humour gets me every time. I am very fond of one of her most recent projects: How It Feels To Live With Anxiety And Depression. Quite different to her usual themes, but very honest, yet light hearted.

Check out Michelle Hird’s cards on thortful here.

For My Daddy, This Father’s Day…

Father’s Day is fast approaching (Sunday 19th June, FYI), and we want to show the father’s in our lives how deeply appreciative we are of them!

We understand the importance of making somebody feel loved and special with our greeting cards! Nothing is more personal than a heartfelt, handwritten message, which you can create using our handwriting tool within our app.

It’s a simple, handy feature, which is handy for the kids who want to write their own message to their Dad, but takes out the hassle for you, as we post and deliver your card.

Susse Linton sat down with her adorable son, Rocket to demonstrate how easy it is for children to upload their own messages of love to their Dad’s this Father’s Day

rocket-1Rocket creating his handwritten message
rocket-2Choosing his choice of Father’s Day card

 

rocket-3Taking a picture of his handwritten message
rocket-4Message successfully uploaded to his card

Need a little inspiration for your child’s message or perhaps your own? We’ve popped some heartfelt suggestions below:

‘To Daddy, Happy Father’s Day to the best dad in the whole wide world.’

‘To Dad, You’re my hero! Wishing you a very happy Father’s Day!’

‘To the best Dad, I love you loads. Happy Father’s Day!’

‘To the best Dad EVER! Have a wonderful day – you deserve it this Father’s Day!’

‘To Dad, Happy Father’s Day you old chap!’

‘To Daddy, This is your day, so enjoy! Happy Father’s Day.’

The Great British Bank Holiday Essentials

Nothing quite says a British ‘summer’ like a bank holiday. Whether you’re headed off to the coast with family, embarking on a road trip (and inevitably getting stuck in gridlock traffic), or prepping the BBQ despite the threat of rain – what does bank holiday mean to you?

We’ve rounded up the most quintessentially British things to do on a typical bank holiday weekend – how many can you tick off?

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CAMPING
The classic British tradition whenever a three-day weekend comes around. Whether you’re packing up the camper/caravan, or pitching a tent in a muddy field, this bank holiday staple is guaranteed to bring tears, laughter, stress and a lot of mud. Don’t forget to pack the wellies!

ROAD TRIP
The extra day suddenly inspires us to fill up the tank, jump in the car and head out on the road to explore a different part of the country. Whether you’re heading towards open countryside, or escaping to a forest retreat – make sure you stock up on the car snacks and create a jam-worthy car playlist!

THE CLASSIC BBQ
We’re a nation who LOVE BBQing at any opportunity and regardless of the weather. Bucketing it down? No problem, pop the barbie under a gazebo, umbrella or makeshift shelter. Blazing hot sunshine? Fill up an old wheelie bin to cool the beers. Come rain or shine, there will be a lot of BBQs being fired up this weekend and we’re already looking forward to ours!

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ONLINE SHOPPING
A long weekend means some hours to kill, and what better way than chilling on the sofa, with your laptop, a cuppa and biscuit (we highly recommend chocolate hobnobs), whilst perusing the online stores. We’re even offering FREE delivery on orders for the bank holiday using the code SPRING2016.

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NETFLIX
There’s no better time to catch up on your favourite programmes, and we’re definitely dedicating some time to the sofa with some snacks in hand, whilst watching the latest TV obsession.

BRUNCH
Catching up with friends is valuable, and it’s made even better over a glass of prosecco and Eggs Royale. How do you eat yours?!

COUNTRY WALKS
Getting out in the fresh air with loved ones is the perfect way to spend time together. Why not pick up your camera and practice your photography skills whilst enjoying the great outdoors?

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DIY
Got some redecoratin to do? Is the house or garden in need of a makeover? Then bank holiday is the perfect opportunity to get the overalls on, lop those bushes and paint on that wall you’ve been talking about doing forever!

Shop the latest designs this bank holiday on thortful here.