Cards are a hassle, you must admit when someone’s birthday is coming up, you dread having to traipse around Card Factory trying to find a half decent card. I have never really seen the point in spending £3 on a piece of card that you write around six words in and then promptly gets thrown in the bin.
This is why I make all my cards, I find that it is a much more personal way of going about it and it means so much more to the person than a generic “Happy Birthday” cards. My dad is an artist so I already have access to loads of art supplies which probably helps a lot and I’ve always hand-made my cards (at first because I was always skint) so I have a bit of an eye as to what works and what does not. I would not say I’m a talented artist, hence why I didn’t take art for GCSE or A-level but I think it’s the thought that matters. If one of my friends gave me a handmade card, which sometimes they do, it means so much more to me than having a store-bought card because it means that they’ve thought tonnes about it and put in a lot of effort, though I’m not averse to more personal store-bought cards that have something to do with my likes.
It doesn’t matter if you’re not good at art, just the fact that you’ve tried really makes a difference to how the birthday girl/boy feels about it.
First things first, look up inspiration on Pinterest. This is my holy grail, it has so many photos and paintings on that it’s easy to combine various factors into your card to make it yours. Make a board and pin them so you have something to refer to when you forget what exactly your idea was.
I would also recommend getting a piece of scrap paper and sketching the outline of your design in a square box to make sure that everything will fit in to complimentary scales while also ensuring the balance between the image and the background works rather than hindering the design. It doesn’t have to be an intricate sketch with shading and whatever but a simple pencil outline really does help.
For the card, I square blank, ready folded cards from Trago because it’s high quality and is dirt cheap considering. Card is better than paper for obvious reasons, it just makes it more professional in my opinion. Again, a lightly drawn pencil outline is key here, definitely light so if you need to redraw it doesn’t leave an imprint (that’s pretty self-explanatory I know)
If your painting your design I would recommend gouache paints rather than your normal poster paints simply for the reason that there are way more colour options and because you mix them with water, it’s really easy to use them to shade and get the perfect colour whether you want it fairly transparent or bold. If your inking your design, a more minimalist approach, definitely do not use a biro if you want it to look it’s best, they indent the card and leave harsh ink scratches. In my opinion, a simple black gel pen works best, leaving a distinct and clean line.
I think it’s great to think outside the box, I really like using sticky foam padded squares to make the image 3D, I think that this gives a unique and very personal air to the card as you can’t just print in bulk, you have to place each part on the card by hand.
A lot of you will be thinking that you just don’t have the time to do this, I’m an A-Level Student and I have time. Despite popular belief, you can’t study/work all the time and all those times you sit in front of mindless crap on the TV you could be doing something productive like making cards. I’ve got to say I don’t make loads every day, I usually make loads all in one day if I have a day off and it’s raining. They don’t take long to do (depending on your design) and I believe them to be the personal touch that says more than the words inside the card. Always great because I never can think of anything un-cringy to write in cards aside from the “Hope you have a great day” generic stuff which in many cases is already printed inside the store-bought cards.