HOW TO SPOT A TREND

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If you’ve seen any Pack a Punch Designs on thortful then you’ll know that they are all based around current trends and themes, from the dangers of auto-correct, to the collective female obsession with Tom Hardy.

But how do you spot these trends? Sophie, the brains behind the brand, gives us the lowdown on identifying all things ‘of the moment’.

WATCH TV

It sounds obvious, but take time to catch the latest drama or the next big boxset on Netflix, so you’re ahead of the game. Alternatively, TV shows that have been around for a few years (think Peaky Blinders / Game of Thrones / Stranger Things / The Walking Dead) will have already formed a dedicated fan base and could no doubt be big sellers. Then you have cult classics, such as The Office, Friends and Absolutely Fabulous, that will forever be cemented in the hearts of their avid followers, despite the fact they have not aired on the big screen for a long time. TV is such a big part of our lives now, and unites us around common interests. I’m not ashamed to admit that my current conversation ‘icebreaker’ is “are you watching Love Island?”! I love the feeling when I receive a card that is based on a TV show which I invested my time in: it re-ignites my love for the programme and also shows that the sender put a lot of thought into their choice.

GET DOWN WITH THE KIDS

Slay. Lit. Bae. Squad. On fleek. Hashtag *insert noun here* goals. Yes, I’m talking about modern-day lingo. Despite the rise in social media and us millennials being constantly glued to our phones, writing ‘Happy Birthday’ on someone’s Facebook wall just doesn’t cut it, especially if you see them on a regular basis. It’s time to bring the phrases that originated on social media to the world of greetings. In order to appeal to the younger generation, you need to resonate with them, and what better way than with the art of language?

WHAT’S GOING ON?

Pay attention to the news and let your creativity run wild. The world is forever changing and somebody’s 5 minutes of fame could be your next big selling design! Who can forget yodelling boy? He sang in Walmart and the next thing you know he’s on the Ellen Show and launching his first album. We all love a ‘regular person turned famous’ story.

Also, politically themed cards are yuge (sorry!) at the moment. Trump cards are EVERYWHERE and they’re selling like hotcakes, regardless of whether you like him or despise him. Then you have the issues of feminism and LGBT rights. With International Women’s Day and ‘Coming Out’ parties on the rise, the occasions and people you can cater to are endless!

EXPLORE HUMOUR

The rise in popularity of rude cards simply cannot be ignored, and although they’re not to everyone’s taste, a shared sense of humour is essential in strengthening friendships and relationships. If you feel comfortable enough to unleash your crude side then do it! Even if it’s erring more on the side of ‘cheeky’ rather than ‘f*ck-sh*t-w*nk-b*llocks’. Is there any better feeling than knowing you’re helping people make their loved ones laugh out loud by purchasing one of your designs?

MODERN-DAY SENSATIONS

You can’t go wrong with a card based around modern-day phenomena, right? Vegans, social media, memes, and Love Island, to name just a few. These subjects were unheard of years ago but have now skyrocketed into our lives making them the perfect basis for relatable greetings cards. People want cards that they know the recipient will identify with and want to keep as a memento, and you have the power to create them!

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Find Pack a Punch Designs here.

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Zoe Brennan: How to Design a Bestseller

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At Zoe Brennan we know the benefit of having a best-selling design. Here’s how you can too.

Let’s start with an analogy. Picture a football team. You have your defenders, midfielders…okay, we’ve exhausted my football knowledge but you get the point: there’s loads of different players. Now let’s focus on who’s up front- the striker. Without them there’s no goals, no glory. They’re the one that gets lifted in the air, their name chanted as the final minutes tick down. They turn a team that can hold their own into a winning team.

Enough with the football analogy: what I’m saying is it’s okay to have a decent line up of designs that can go the distance but everyone really needs a few big hitters that will catapult them to the next level.

Every design can’t be an out right winner. (I wish they could be. Believe me) There will always be those who out perform the others, it’s just the law of averages. So, how do you go about creating a bestseller?

 

Think Seasonally– big card buying occasions like Christmas, Valentine’s Day etc. are going to be your rocket fuel. Our Financial Burden card out sold our other designs by over 6000%. (Yeah, I know, mental.)

 

Be On Trend– there’s always a focus for comedy. Sometimes it’s meme-led, other times it’s purely topical (be that political, celebrity focused or lifestyle-led for example). Try following a few humorous pages on Facebook and Twitter. You’ll soon spot what the big thing is right now. How can you put your own spin on it?

The same idea goes for what’s in aesthetically- follow blogs, grab some books, and get researching what’s coming into fashion.

 

Be Relatable– when designing for specific occasions think about what really gets you, what grinds your gears or floats your boat. You’ll soon find others feel exactly the same way and when a design speaks to someone directly they’ll snap it up in a heartbeat. Design the card you want to buy.

 

Plan in Advance– Christmas doesn’t start when the tinsel comes out; ideally, you should have seasonal designs done about six months in advance. I know it feels wrong to be finishing festive designs when you’re still wearing shorts but it’s the best way to get maximum exposure. You’re more likely to stand out if you’re ahead of the game.

 

Take Chances– be different. You might think your idea is too niche to work but that’s exactly what customers are looking for. Follow your heart and think outside the box. No one likes to see the same thing again and again.

 

If you’re thinking of starting to design cards but feel overwhelmed, don’t worry about having hundreds of awesome designs. It’s perfectly feasible to have just a handful of carefully crafted designs and still reap the benefits. Get it right and that might be all you need.  

Find Zoe Brennan cards here.

A thortful Success Story

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As one of thortful’s biggest success stories over the last 6 months, Kasia has had quite the journey with us! From a few odd sales here and there to one of our top selling creators for Valentine’s this year, she’s grown her thortful sales and become almost an overnight success. But how did she do it? Below, she shares her story and gives you some of her top tips for raking in those royalties!

My journey with thortful started off as an experiment, and I must admit I didn’t have any particular idea what I was doing at the beginning! I simply created my profile, uploaded a few designs with funny little monsters and that was about it! I didn’t really worry about making my cards suitable for any specific occasions, or about drawing them in any particular style. If I’m honest, looking at it now, I think that my approach was a bit soulless and mechanical. Without giving the whole process much thought, I just took the path of least resistance, and as a result, saw very few sales.

It all changed in December last year. As huge movie geeks, my friends and I often spend time discussing films, TV series, and documentaries. During one of these conversations an idea came to my mind: what about drawing something I’m really, truly, passionate about?

This was how my Star Wars themed card series came to life! The whole creation process was great fun. It seemed so natural and easy to draw my favourite movie characters, to make them speak their funny language and to play with their unique features.

Kasia xmas card for blog

 

I quickly found that tapping into particular trends is a key step that will take you further on your way to becoming a successful thortful designer. Finding a new trend and predicting the next big thing is never a simple task, but keeping your finger on the pulse will make it easier.

Read popular design magazines, sign up to art newsletters, follow famous art bloggers, pay attention to the issues your friends and colleagues are buzzing about, observe which are the most popular topics on social media. What are people interested in? What is getting them talking and capturing the collective imagination? These are the questions that you should be asking. Paying attention on what’s going on around you will give you a broader picture of what people want and what trends are hot!

I also decided that this time round my cards should target specific, card-sending occasions, and as Christmas was coming up I took this as my inspiration. Playing a bit with the characters, I adapted them specifically around this theme, and managed to secure a good few more sales than usual!

This just goes to show that when designing your cards, it’s important to remember what occasion they are for. Whether it’s Valentine’s Day, a Wedding Anniversary or Birthday, creating your designs to target specific events will always help you to produce a more customer-orientated product, and as a result it will drive more sales.

Kasia Valentine's card for blog

 

As my Christmas collection did well, I decided to stick with the movie theme. I extended my collection of characters but this time they were equipped with Cupid’s arrows and heart-melting declarations of love, just in time for Valentine’s Day. The whole collection was an instant hit! 

I soon learned that once you’ve established a design which is popular, you can always create new versions to fit other occasions by changing captions or references, which will give you more opportunities to sell your cards. And if you need some ideas of different events and occasions? Just head to the thortful website!

Once you find your niche, remember your bestsellers and grow your collection around them. Making what you know consumers want yields far more sales than making whatever you feel like and hoping there’s a market for it! It is much smarter to find where your passions and skills intersect with what customers seek.

I discovered that humour was key for me, too. I use it all the time in my cards: it is basically at the centre of every design I do, and the simpler the joke the better. By making my cards funny, I found that I was giving customers more reason to choose my designs, and my sales reflected this.

If it fits with your design then why not try implementing some humour in your cards? From a humorous caption to a clever pun, anything you can do to give a little laugh can help your designs stand out. It will make them feel good, and most importantly it will really help customers to remember your cards: a perfect recipe for a success!

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It’s been quite a journey we’ve been on together with thortful for the last few months, and I couldn’t ask for a better team to work with. They’ve watched me grow and been very supportive along the way, patiently replying to all my questions, and solving any arising issues at the speed of light! They’ve advised me on my designs, suggested ideas that worked really well and have been even kind enough to let me takeover their Instagram account for a weekend! You can be sure when starting your thortful profile that you’ve got a whole brilliant team behind you, who will always be there for you to answer any questions you might have.

It took some time for me to realise which ways to take and which paths to avoid in order to succeed, but today I get lots of joy of being able to do what I love and to share it with others. Hopefully my story will inspire you to pursue your own thortful adventure! 

Thanks for reading,
May the force be with you !

Kasia

 

 

Find Kasia’s thortful profile 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!

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#thortfulillustrates

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Get inspired by @tonyfutura

Feature of the day: @tonyfutura

There are so many ways to be creative and that’s what we enjoy when discovering new creators that inspire us. We came across the work of @tonyfutura on Instagram, counting more than 17k followers and we just wanted to learn more about him and his work!

1) How do you find inspiration?

Instagram and the social web is a good source of inspiration, because it provides me with many different perspectives, topics and news…often I just need to see a random object and a process starts in my head where I try to set up a new view on it or to put this into a special actual situation. Read more

“An Illustrator’s Lunch” by Aleesha Nandhra

'An Illustrator's Lunch' by Aleesha Nandhra

It’s lunch time and just when we were wondering what to eat, we came across the work of Aleesha Nandhra and her creative take on “An Illustrator’s Lunch.” As it seems, illustrators may be inspired from anything, beating their creative hunger in the most unique ways!

How did you come up with the idea of this illustration?

This illustration just started off as a doodle of some pencils inside a food tin and I just
progressed from there. I knew that it would be a strong visual idea and I had to go through with it and make it! I can’t recall exactly what the thought process behind the initial idea was, but I was most likely thinking about food! Read more

Creating ‘Smart Art’ with Kristián Mensa

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Creativity can be found everywhere, even in everyday objects. Kristián Mensa and his art prove that an orange, a pasta, or a brush may lead to impressive results.

Kristián is a young artist from Prague that loves using normally uninteresting objects, using his imagination to give a new meaning to them. With more than 32 thousand followers on his Instagram account and press coverage from Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, Mashable, Elite Daily, and so many others, we couldn’t help but discover more about the ‘smart art’ of Kristián.

– How did you come up with the idea of ‘Smart Art’?

I’ve received a lot of comments and positive feedback – Most of the time I was told how smart and clever I am. Sometimes even a genius was mentioned so I’ve decided to call my work Smart Art – since it nicely describes what I do plus it has a playful rhyme. But to make things clear. I definitely do not call myself or think of myself as a genius. Practice during long nights or on Fridays when everyone else was having a drink is what helped me to expand my creative thinking and improve my drawing skills. (But there is still a lot what to get better at) Read more