A first in a series of behind the scenes blog posts sharing the ins and outs of how our latest colourful greeting card collections have been created, starting with Reflections.
This year we have launched the largest volume of colourful greeting cards we have ever published for a single season. So over the next few months, I thought it would be interesting to share with you the creative process for each collection. It will give you a little insight into the inspiration for a collection and how each of them developed to become the final designs.
First up is the new Reflections collection. This collection was born out of our move to the country and all the lockdown walks during the Spring and Summer of 2020. We previously lived in London for over 10 years and with the birth of our little girl and the growth of the business it made sense to move to Norfolk where Mark’s parents are based (If you didn’t know, they are our warehouse team and have been doing a superb job for around four years now). So the move from city to countryside really made us notice the beautiful nature on our doorstep. The pandemic also made us pause a little and discover the beauty within our new surroundings. I wanted a collection to reflect this, where you could bring a little of the outside into your home through our designs.
When starting a collection I always pull together a mood board and colour palette. I wanted the designs to have our signature colour pops as well as bold, simple floral illustrations, rather than being really detailed. I also wanted them to feel abstract while using texture and colour to represent the details. I also love very modern almost architectural flower arranging, which I wanted to incorporate into the designs too.
One early morning I was lying awake planning my long to do list and trying to work out how I was going to design the numerous collections I had swimming inside my head when something very serendipitous happened. A lady called Abbi, who is a wonderful illustrator, liked one of my Instagram pics and I started to look at her work and loved her floral designs. I showed Mark and he agreed, so I messaged her on Instagram to see if she ever freelanced and had time in her schedule. By 9am we had chatted through the concept and agreed on the project! With us both being busy Mums, we laughed at how early we had organised everything!
It is the first time I had ever considered collaborating on a collection for Raspberry Blossom, but with our busy schedules and us wanting to grow the team (the pandemic inevitably putting a pause to this), it made sense to work with a talented freelancer to help lighten the load.
To create the brief for Abbi firstly I worked out the concepts for the 14 designs. I wanted to keep it to four layouts; one was a vase on a table setting, one was to have just one iconic flower, one was to have a flat lay where the flowers and foliage intertwined and the final one was to do a busier repeat pattern. With these four layouts decided upon it then meant I could roughly draw each card design and select the flowers I wanted to incorporate.
I then finalised the colour palette for the collection. I like to work out the colour balance of the full card collection, so that I don’t have too many with a dark background, or too much of one certain colour. To do this I create little colour thumbnails - one with the background colour and then various coloured dots to represent the details within. These smaller dots represent a touch of that colour. The final part of the brief was to provide any inspiration for the style of pot or type of flower by sharing the references on my mood board. Abbi then had all she needed to start create the designs!
Abbi started with creating one from each of the four concepts, so I could then review and see if they worked. After seeing the repeat collection I felt it was too busy and didn’t work within the collection, so decided to scrap it and just go ahead with the three favourites.
We then worked collaboratively, going back and forth with Abbi doing any little tweaks here and there. It came apparent quite quickly that some designs didn’t work as well as I had envisaged in my head. For example in my original ideas I had a hydrangea but the little flowers made the design just too busy, so we changed that design to be the poppies with two vases instead (this is now one of my faves!) Once they were all finalised I could then create the handwritten message for each one and the collection was complete!
It was fabulous working with Abbi and as it is just me that produces the designs for Raspberry Blossom, it was wonderful having another creative to work with. I really miss that from my advertising agency days in London. For this blog, Abbi kindly answered a few questions about what inspires her and how she creates her designs and there’s also a sneaky peek into her colourful studio too!
How long have you been a designer/illustrator?
I’ve worked as a designer illustrator for the past 17 years (I’m showing my age here!) I started out working as an in-house studio designer for Tigerprint who at that time designed greetings, toys and home wares for M&S. I loved this job but after 13 years I decided I was ready for a change and I made the move to go freelance. I now work out of my little studio in West Yorkshire and I couldn’t be happier. I’m enjoying working with a variety of clients on different products but my heart will always be in greetings so when this collaboration with Raspberry blossom came along I was over the moon.
How do you create your designs?
I like to work in a variety of mediums, most of my designs will start with some very scrappy sketches. For the Reflections collection I would then create textures, patterns and painted papers in the colour pallets I’d be working in. Using these and my sketches I’d cut and collage shapes both physically and digitally depending on the piece to create a composition I’m happy with.
What is your favourite medium to use?
I like working in a variety of mediums but my favourite would have to be a water based printing ink and my trusty roller for creating textures.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I get my inspiration from all over really. In non covid times I love an art gallery! The fashion and textiles museum in London being one of my faves. I love being anywhere you can soak up pattern colour and texture. I’m also a big fan of contemporary ceramics and often find myself drawing on shapes from these in my Prints designs and illustrations.
I hope you enjoyed the little insight into the Reflections collection and into this fabulous collaboration! You can browse the beautiful cards in this collection by following the links below: