The Card Designer Spotlight is a series featuring independent makers whose greeting cards you can find in Paper Source stores. Meet and be inspired by a new designer every month on our blog!
Juliana, sparked by her longtime love of cards and candid advice took her journey full circle from Paper Source admirer to seller. What started with 3 greeting card designs has grown into a thriving business with over 500 well-loved designs sold worldwide.
How did you begin your card-making career?
First, let’s go way back to elementary school. I distinctly remember having a little white Easter basket in my bedroom when I was growing up, and I would fill it with all the cards that I received over the course of each year. No one told me to do this—and I began doing it at a very young age (maybe as early as five or six). I have wonderful memories of pulling that little basket off of my bookshelf and re-reading cards from family members and friends. It was kind of like my first real conscious act of self-care!
Ok—fast forward to 2014. After many years, I had finally ended an unhealthy professional relationship with the acting industry (that’s its own story, but I’ll spare you the details), and I was in need of some serious professional self-care. I LOVED to draw, and I was delighted at the prospect of a new career where my creative output was not immediately tied to my own appearance. Believe it or not, I started frequenting Paper Source locations where I would stand in front of the card wall for hours, just reading cards and laughing or feeling inspired or being moved to tears…(nothing better than a good card wall, amirite?) One afternoon, I was shopping for a birthday card for my sister-in-law, and I picked up a delightful card from a company called Fat Bunny Press. It turned out Fat Bunny Press was based just up the road from me in San Francisco! So, I called the owner, Eva Hamden Grall (who’s now a lifelong friend) and asked her if she’d consider hiring me? She had an even better idea—she said, “Juju, once you realize that most card companies consist of one chick gluing things and packing things in her apartment until two in the morning, you realize that you, too, can start your own business. You don’t need an MBA, you don’t need to apprentice anywhere…you just need guts and a little bit of insomnia. Juju, just start your own company!” Two months later, I launched an Etsy store with 3 greeting cards. Now, we have more than 500 designs sold in thousands of stores around the world!
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I think the better question is where does my inspiration NOT come from…celebrated literature, the ocean, beautiful butterflies, ancient Egypt, toile, rivers and mountains and forests, Parisian architecture, the human experience…and laughter. Lots and lots of laughter. Thank god I have a team to rein me in, because I have far too much creative inspiration and far too little time. But I’ll say this—there’s NOTHING more entertaining than a Good Juju Ink creative team brainstorming session. My junior designers are absolutely brilliant/funny/empathetic, and they help push ALL of our work to the next level! Just look at our newest releases and I think you’ll agree!
What does your day look like as a cardmaker?
Literally no day is the same. And besides my morning cup of Irish breakfast tea, I’m not one for routines. So each day is very very very different. Therefore, I’ll tell you what I did yesterday, as it’s probably as good of an example as any! Part 1: I woke up, had tea and breakfast with my family, and admired my gorgeous cat, Wallace. Part 2: I prepared for our weekly Good Juju Ink creative team meeting with my two incredibly talented junior designers. We talked about patterns, dancing snowmen, walruses, antique clocks—and how we’d incorporate all of these things into upcoming deadlines. Part 3: I drew all sorts of ribbons for our summer puzzle release (GAH, I’m so excited for these!). Part 4: I got distracted and looked at gorgeous textiles for far too long. Part 5: I realized that I forgot to eat lunch so I ate some food. Part 6: I picked up my daughter from preschool and took her to swimming lessons. Part 7: We ate dinner as a family and got my daughter prepared for bed. Part 8: I stayed awake until the wee hours of the morning doing some combination of drawing/brainstorming/emailing/reading/looking at pretty pictures. Part 9: I fell asleep on the couch.
What is your preferred medium?
Somehow, back in the beginning of this journey, I created everything on paper before scanning and preparing for print. I’m talking colored pencils, scissors, charcoal, oil paint on canvas—and it took FOREVER. At some point, I got a gentle nudge from a fellow designer to take the leap into the scary digital world. Here’s the thing—my background is in performing arts and old school fine arts. Before starting Good Juju Ink, I was a professional actor, dancer, and choreographer. I had absolutely zero graphic design experience or education. So this was terrifying!
But you know what? Through sheer determination and Pinterest and the world wide web, I figured it out! And looking back, how did I ever do anything before my iPad Pro? Now, I create almost everything using Adobe Fresco/Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. My files don’t always follow the best organizational layer practices, and they’ve sometimes been known to crash computers, but the final product is all that matters, right?
What does your creative process look like?
It looks like a messy combination of Pinterest boards, typed notes on my phone, written notes on various pieces of paper/notebooks/notepads, typed notes on my computer, sketches on my iPad, emails, Instagram, Google Docs, texts to my husband telling him to remember an amazing idea that I really don’t want to forget, and five billion ideas that are constantly bouncing around my head. And then, after many discussions with my junior designers/production team and many MANY hours of digital illustration and rendering, all of those things miraculously come together into new products.
What are you most proud of as a creator and card maker?
These questions are TOUGH and I’m proud of so many things, but for the sake of all you readers, I’ll limit myself to two things. First, I’m unbelievably proud of the Good Juju Ink team. I love the people that I work with, including our junior designers, our printing partners, our fulfillment team, and my two business partners (one is my best friend and the other is my husband and it’s amazing). Second, I’m proud of the thoughtful, engaged, human connections that our products help facilitate. Life is filled with all sorts of joys and challenges and celebrations and devastation and magic. Knowing that we can help people navigate all of this—wherever they happen to be in their own specific journey—knowing that we can touch the hearts of tens of thousands of people around the world is something that inspires me every single day.
Find Good Juju Ink’s Lunch Box Mother’s Day Card and New Home New Adventures Card at your local store or online at papersource.com. For more inspiration and behind-the-scenes action, follow @goodjujuink on IG.