4 Watercolour Tips to Perfect Today

Are you an illustrator or typographer who wants to branch out in watercolour, but have ZERO idea where to start?

Beginning a new challenge takes guts, but if you persevere, can reap the rewards. If you’re looking to branch out into watercolour, we spoke to the lovely Kim Fleming who has her watercolour technique nailed and will help you perfect it, too.



Blending colours
Blending colours together seamlessly is a must-have skill in watercolour. The easiest way to do this is is using a “wet-on-wet” technique.
Untitled design1. Using a large brush, cover an area with clear water
2. Using your first colour, use a smaller brush to add pigment to the wet area. You will see that the watercolour will not extend past the area you have dampened.
3. Add your second colour, and blend together with your brush. This can produce a lovely smooth gradient, but can also have some surprising blending effects. Have fun with it! Also, notice the soft edges with this technique.


Water splatters
This is a lot of fun and can create a really magical effect.
Untitled design-21. Fill an area with the colour of your choice – the darker the colour, the greater the effect.
2. When the paint is almost dry – it will have just a sheen of dampness – dab on little dots of clear water. You could also splatter them on, or even splatter another colour into the first.
3. This creates a “starry” effect, and the closer your paint is to being dry when you add the water, the sharper the effects will be.


Soft edges
This can be useful to fan out an area of colour.
Untitled design-3 1. Paint your chosen colour.
2. With a fairly large brush, load it with clear water and paint around the edges of your original area. The original colour will leak out into this new area, but will be diluted.
3. You may have to do this several times to get a clean gradient. Dabbing at the edges with paper towel can help too.


I think this may be a technique of my own creation, I have never seen anyone else do this!
Untitled design-4 1.Paint an area of colour, preferably blue.
2. Dab at the paint with scrunched up paper towel. The area can be quite wet when you do this. You may have to keep dabbing as the paint dries.
3. Voila! Instant clouds!

A Cup of Tea With…Emma Garland

Oh we do love sitting down with our creators and having a chat. This week we grabbed a catch-up with Emma Garland from Little Red Apple ahead of her exciting #thortfulTakeover on our Instagram page this weekend.



What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning, ready for the working day?
I read my emails first thing in the morning. Once I’ve walked my kids to school I come home, make a coffee and start work, but a few times a week I try to do some exercise before getting started on my work, as I find it difficult to motivate myself to do it later in the day!  It’s really good for clearing my head and I guess I’m more productive afterwards.

Do you have any crazy work dreams, which keep you up at night?
I will admit that I do often think about possible new designs as I’m going to sleep, but fortunately I’m not (so far, anyway) troubled by crazy work dreams!

What food fuels your work?
Coffee definitely keeps me going throughout the day and I aim to have something healthy for lunch like homemade soup. As I work from home though, it’s all too easy to keep popping into the kitchen for a snack if I am getting a bit distracted!

Describe a typical morning
I really love the fact that there is no typical working day for me!  My job involves a bit of everything – designing, making, admin, marketing, book keeping, answering emails, photography etc. The good thing is that it never gets boring and I can always switch it around if I’m getting fed up of one thing.

What part of the day do you reach a creative peak?
I guess I’m freshest in the morning, but there are lots of other things that need doing then too! So if I have new designs to do, I find it works best for me if I spend the whole day on that. The originals for my card designs are paper collages, so I get all my papers and scissors and pens out, make a big old mess and get stuck in.

What would people be surprised to know about you?
I play the cello.

How do you switch off from a busy day?
I love to read and my evenings usually involve watching a bit of Nordic Noir and perhaps some wine.  Rock and roll!

Finally, if you could give a piece of advice to your younger self – what would it be?
Why not give it a try? I never thought that I could earn money from designing greetings cards, but I love it! It’s still a buzz when people spend their money on something I’ve created! It’s definitely worth trying to do something you love rather than regretting never having tried.


Check out more of Emma’s designs on thortful.


A Cup of Tea With…Drawberry Jam!

In case you missed it, this weekend the brilliant Jenna Thompson from Drawberry Jam took over our Instagram page for our #thortfulTakeover and shared snippets of her creative and personal life.

Whilst we cooed over her pretty cat and admired her illustrations, we wanted to delve further into Jenna’s creative mind and ask her a selection of pressing questions about her career.



What’s the best thing about being an illustrator? 

You get paid… for drawing things. It’s amazing – I can’t believe I get away with it really. I think it’s so ingrained that most people don’t necessarily enjoy their jobs, and I’ve always felt that’s such a terrible shame because we spend such a huge amount of our time – our one life – doing them.
One of my favourite things is working with couples on their wedding stationery. It’s such a big deal for people because it’s their big day, so creating something special and beautiful is really important. I absolutely love coming up with bespoke illustrations that are really personal and unique to the couple, and hearing their reactions to the finished pieces is always lovely too.
Also, since becoming an illustrator I get to hang out with my cats pretty much all of the time.
Describe the hardest challenge you’ve faced in your illustrating career so far…
I’ve been freelance for six months, and I’d say the hardest challenge has been the insecurity of going from something with a regular steady income to something that constantly fluctuates. It’s a real lesson in getting yourself organised, as well as in so many other things – marketing yourself, finding work, doing your own accounts, the list goes on! But it was definitely the right decision. I feel much more self-disciplined.
How do you switch off?
Mostly by watching comedy, listening to music or going out for walks. I also spend quite a lot of time reading in the bath – I love Caitlin Moran’s books and I read most of her latest book ‘Moranifesto’ from the bathtub – book in one hand, wine in the other. Very rock’n’roll!
If you could’ve told your younger self one thing – what would it have been?

It would have been, ‘there’s no rush to go to university’. At 18 I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do. After a year out I went to study English with creative writing – and for the most part I spent my lectures doodling all over the handouts. In the end I dropped out and went my own way, getting a job at a creative agency, but who knows what would have happened if I’d waited and chosen to study later. I think I’d be a much better student now.
Also – chill. Things will be fine.
Tell us one thing people would be surprised to know about you…

My favourite hobby is samba drumming! I play in a choreographed Brazilian samba-reggae troupe called Ilu Axé — it’s very loud and dangerously funky.
What’s the best tip you can give to aspiring illustrators?
Just believe you can do it. Honestly, I put off taking illustration seriously as an option for such a long time, I was so afraid of failing. I would always think ‘yes, that’s what I would like to do, really’, but I hugely doubted my ability to make a living from it. And it’s a career still very much in its formative stages, but it’s a great feeling to be working on projects I love and choose for myself.
Finally, what’s the best thing you can do in under 60 seconds? 
I was quite literally tested on this the other day when I was playing a game called Telestrations. It’s a ‘sketch, pass and guess’ game, a bit like Chinese whispers but with drawing, and for each sketch you only get 60 seconds. I think I managed a rather convincing drawing of ‘Gangs of New York’ with a gang in the foreground and the Statue of Liberty, skyscrapers, etc. in the background. Though saying that, I think the guess ended up being ‘Ninjas in New York’. Which is a film I would pay to see.
Check out more of Drawberry Jam’s designs here.

Game of Thrones as told through Greeting Cards

Game of Thrones Iron Throne

Game of Thrones Iron Throne

Game of Thrones takes us through the full spectrum of emotions, love, loss, anger, fear and in some cases pure rage. With such dramatic lives and no sign of anything letting up even after six seasons, we thought the character’s deserved some encouragement. With this in mind here’s our pick of the best cards to send some of our favourites and why.

Get Well Soon

As season five closed Daenerys’s poor dragon, Drogon was injured after swooping in and rescuing her. We’d recommend this “Get Well Soon” card  as the first step towards healing wounded wings.

Get Well Soon Card

Get Well Soon Card

With Sympathy

Next poor old Ramsay Bolton- ok not really he’s horrid but if you’re after a passive aggressive way to taunt him over Sansa and Reek’s escape then this subtle sympathy card is just the ticket.

Sympathy Card

Sympathy Card

Good Luck

Whilst we’re on the theme of escape too, why not cheer on Jorah and Daario in their quest for Daenerys by boosting their spirits with this charming good luck card.

Good Luck Card

Good Luck Card

Thinking of You

Given this is Game of Thrones we can’t let things get too positive, so let’s take  a minute to think of poor Margaery Tyrell  languishing in jail, thanks to Cersei’s scheming. This card should give her something to pin on that dungeon wall to brighten her day until help arrives.

Thinking Of You Card

Thinking Of You Card


If you’re Thon Greyjoy though, life just got sweeter and in pushing Myranda to her doom and helping Sansa escape he has freed himself. Share in his satisfaction of getting one over on that tyrant Ramsay with this joyful llama congratulation card.

Congratulations Card

Congratulations Card

Jon Snow

Finally you didn’t think we could let things go without a nod to Jon Snow did you? Of course not, now we wait and see.

Better Luck Next Life

Better Luck Next Life

5 thortful takeaways to brighten up your mornings!

We all know it can sometimes be hard to get through the week without a little bit of encouragement coming your way. No matter where you get it from, be it friends, colleagues or something you’ve read…thortful wants to give you a little extra boost! Plus, if you are seeking success, you must remember to think successful, inspiring, and motivating thoughts.

Read on to find the words of wisdom that will motivate you in building your business, leading your life and smashing your goals! Our small selection of inspirational greeting cards also make for great desk buddies!


Illustrator: Amalia Lopez

This ‘life is a journey, enjoy the ride‘ has been created by Amalia Lopez. She’s from Oadby, UK a small town in Leicestershire and has loads more fantastic designs that inspire us at thortful HQ on daily basis! If you’re a fan, then we suggest you check out the rest of her collection!


Illustrator: Reba Bangasser

Sometimes the beginning of a new week, can seem like we’re facing an insurmountable challenge. We know the drill: too much to do, too little time to do it; too many people making demands upon your time, all with conflicting agendas. Our thortful tip? Take one step at a time and always keep moving! Breaking tasks down into smaller bitesize pieces, will help you clear your mind and make headway up that mountain. Plus, doesn’t it feel so good when you can take in the fresh air at the top?

This lovely photo with typography overlay has been created by Reba Bangasser, a graphic designer and lettering illustrator from Louisville, Kentucky! If you’re a fan of her work, you can see more of her art here!

Illustrator: Cat Coquillette

Illustrator: Cat Coquillette

Cat Coquillette, from Kansas City, Missouri works mainly with watercolor, ink and gouache. Her thortful collection incorporates bright pops of color and a variety of motifs. Most importantly, her ‘stay curious‘ greeting card seemed apt for motivating us. As Einstein famously said: “The important thing is not to stop questioning… Never lose a holy curiosity.”

We’re sure all you creatives know that curiosity is an important trait of a genius. We challenge you to find an intellectual giant who is not a curious person. Thomas Edison, Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, they are all curious characters.

This cute and beautifully created design from Coquillette, hangs proudly on our wall and keeps us curious – we hope it does you too!

Illustrator: Jimbo Bernaus

Illustrator: Jimbo Bernaus

Jimbo Bernaus, is a visual artist and letterer straight out of Barcelona, Spain. Plant one of his designs in eye-shot to stay motivated all week! We all know that to achieve even the smallest of goals, and to get through life’s daily duties and responsibilities, you have to have some self-confidence and his art is beautiful reminder of that.

The importance of developing a self-confident attitude allows you to wade through the push and pull of different voices and opinions telling you, “yes, no, maybe, do this, do that” etc. There’s no surefire pattern that will make you 100% confident overnight but having a reminder to keep you focused is sure to help.

Illustrator: Aaron Schwartz

Illustrator: Aaron Schwartz

Aaron Schwartz can be said to create his designs from experience! Originally from Vancouver, he now lives and works in Switzerland as a freelance designer. Travel has long been known as one of the most direct and visceral ways of feeding the soul. Sometimes we can get bogged down by ruts in life and routine, and travel is one thing that can unlock whole new directions for us to funnel our creative energy, more often than not ushering in entire new eras in artistic development. We see that as a win/win!

Check out our travel inspired cards to make sure you keep exploring!

Milestone Birthdays

From one to one hundred and beyond, birthdays are exciting events which is why a card marking a special day is often a treasured souvenir. We’ve combed our cards and picked out some of the finest examples of milestone birthday cards to help you on your way. So whether someone is turning five or 50 we can help you put a smile on their face.

They might not be aware of it but turning one is pretty special, this animaltastic design is so fun it’ll put a smile on Mum and Dad’s faces too.

Next we skip ahead a little, but three cheers for turning five! There has to be some benefit to being shipped off to big school and we think this awesome octopus design might just be it.

Moving on to the big leagues, we have sweet sixteen! As well as getting to sit GCSE’s, they can now ride a scooter and enjoy a little bit more of what the world has to offer. With this in mind you need a more sophisticated card – one that recognises their new found grown up status. This patterned design should fit that brief perfectly.

Now to 18, everything is legal and they may even be driving! Time to celebrate this big adult milestone with a fab, shiny design which screams congratulations on becoming a grown up!

Next we get to 21, they’ve got a few years of practice at being an adult underway and their taste is a little more high brow. Time to show them you care with this stylish textile inspired design.

Finally we start to get a bit of breathing room between milestone birthdays, that is until the so called “Big 30“. Some say your thirties are the most fun decade, so set them off on the right track with this cheerful balloon design.

Next we get to 40, time to remind them what’s left to achieve with this handy card to give them some perspective.


Next we get to fabulous 50, pick a big bold design to wish them a really Happy Birthday!

For 60, a healthy dose of humour should put a smile on their face. Megan Claire’s design is just the card to do it.

Skipping ahead to 80, nothing will cheer your Gran up more than a card featuring her favourite plant.  This pretty cyclamen design from Caroline Davies will look great on her mantelpiece or windowsill as a memory of a special day.

80th Birthday

80th Birthday

Finally we get to 90 and given the Queen herself reaches this milestone birthday this year, flattery seems a great way to go and JellynBean have done the hard work for you.


Shop our full selection of Birthday Cards.


4 ways to break through your creative rut

You know those days when you put pen to paper and nothing comes? You squeeze that brain of yours willing for some inspiration to come, but you’re at a dead end!

Design by Libby Bothway

Design by Libby Bothway

It’s a frustrating experience that ALL creative people go through and it does disappear (phew!).

Whether you’re an illustrator, surface pattern designer or typographer, we can all safely say we have struggled with some sort of ‘block’ at one point or another.

But how do you stay motivated when you’re drawing blanks? We spoke to four of our talented creators who gave us their tips on overcoming that dreaded rut.

‘Create an inspiration box or drawer and fill it with things that will inspire you when you’re having a mental block.’Katie Abey

‘Every day I create a fun, personal piece in my sketchbook just for me. Personal work always seems to lead to submissions.’ Susse Linton

‘Never discard of your scribbles and raw ideas, you may return to them later and spot hidden gems and new potential.’ Catherine Flynn

‘Researching and gathering ideas is really important, don’t worry about dedicating time to things other than ‘creating.’ Jessica Hogarth

So next time you’re stuck in a creative rut, be sure to bookmark this page for a little inspiration and check out our uplifting cards here.

Design by Leigh Hodgkinson

Design by Leigh Hodgkinson

Design by JellynBean

Design by JellynBean

A Recipe for Change

thortful create range of charity greeting cards for Bowel Cancer UK

thortful’s charity cards for Bowel Cancer UK

2016 sees Bowel Cancer UK mark 10 years since the introduction of bowel cancer screening. A vital step in detecting and treating bowel cancer early; this discovery has changed lives, but a key part of their work is raising awareness of the fact that bowel cancer exists. With this in mind they have teamed up with a host of celebrity chefs and ambassadors to create a range of cake recipes you can use at bake sale’s to raise awareness and funds to support their amazing work.

thortful have teamed up with the charity to create a range of beautiful greeting cards showcasing the recipes, to allow you to spread a message of hope and also share a recipe with a friend to brighten their day.

Recipes include Gennaro’s Contaldo’s delectable Chocolate Orange Ring Cake, (or Ciambetta Al Ciocolato E Arancia as he calls it) , Brian Turner’s banana and toffee pudding. Mark Greenaway has created sinful sticky toffee pudding cupcakes with salted caramel cream cheese frosting but we’ve got the health conscious covered with rugby player James Haskell’s Sesame Seed and Pecan Flapjacks.

There’s also a 30p donation for each card sold going direct to Bowel Cancer UK, so you’re not just sharing a nice message you’re helping directly too.

Discover the full range of recipe cards here.

Good luck messages to make anyone smile

We’ve all been there – the first day jitters when you’re starting a new job and then suddenly the nerves subside slightly when a loved one hands you a good luck card.

Nothing beats the feeling of support when taking on a new role, and if you know someone who is about to start a brand new venture, then sending them a good luck card with a thoughtful message to spur them on is the best way to show your support.

However, when it comes to writing that all-important, golden message – how many of us stumble at the last hurdle? Why is it we know what to say in our heads, but can’t quite manage to get our message to read the same?

Well fear not, faithful followers! We’ve picked out some of our favourite and uplifting ‘good luck’ messages to include in your card. Just adjust and personalise as you see fit.
‘Walk in there knowing you’re just fantastic! You’ve got this.’

‘Wishing you bundles of luck today on your first day at work. You’re gonna be ace!’

‘Opportunities may come to people who are at the right place at the right time, but success comes to those who persist!’

‘Adjusting to a new job can be a challenge, but I know you’ll be up to the task. Congratulations!’

‘Today new job…tomorrow the world!’

‘A new job is like a blank book, and you are the author.’

‘If you can imagine it, you can create it. If you dream it, you can become it.’

‘Good things come to those who know how to get work done!’

‘Making a big life change is pretty scary…but what’s even scarier is regret.’ 

Send a heartfelt good luck card here.


Design by Dandelion Stationary


Design by Lulu YeYe

A Cup of Tea with…Jessica Hogarth!

We’re the right side of Wednesday, which means we’re on countdown to our Instagram #thortfultakeover this weekend.

The lovely Jessica Hogarth is this week’s awesome creator who will be wowing us all with a behind-the-scenes peek into her creative life.

We wanted to sit down with her before she took control of our Instagram account, to quiz her about work, life and her guilty pleasures.

What does it take to become a surface pattern designer?

Lots of hard work and you need to be creative! There are a lot of talented people out there, find your own look and don’t try to be like anyone else, and you’ll soon find your place in the market. I guess I spend a lot of time pondering and thinking about my work, but I think it’s important to reflect!

Tell us a secret about working in surface pattern design…anything goes!5656eda6e4b025ab258dcf1d_medium

I personally think it’s one of the most fun areas of the design world to be involved in! Literally anything goes! When working with pattern, the surfaces your designs can be applied to is endless, so it’s an exciting industry to be in!

What’s the one piece of equipment in your kit you couldn’t live without? 

My 0.38 muji pen! As simple as it sounds, it is what I use to create 99% of my illustrations before I transfer them to the computer for digital colouring.

What does your average day look like?

This is a total cliche, but when you have your own business there is no such thing as an average day. There is always some emailing to be done, perhaps a bit of accounts (I like to be organised with paperwork!), and of course sending out card orders, as well as working on designs for new products and freelance collaborations.

When you have a day off from designing – what do you like to do?

I play hockey for my local team Whitby Ladies, which I love. I find that playing sport is a great way to unwind after a hectic day or week in the studio, and the social side of playing for a team is great too!

Tell us something not many people know about you…

I used to want to be a professional musician. I have grade 8 jazz clarinet and first went to university to study for a music degree. I decided to leave and reapply for art college, as I was missing being creative artistically. I found the perfect course and never looked back! Sadly I don’t really play music any more as I just don’t have the time.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

At the moment, my guilty pleasure is definitely the TV show Pretty Little Liars. I have joined the party late, and there are about 6 seasons to get through. I’ve very quickly got to season 3 and I am addicted!

Visit here for Jessica Hogarth’s designs on thortful.