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!
Find out how a background in fashion design developed into a fashionable card designer business with Emily J of Hartland Cards. Learn more about her favorite pastime turned into a colorful and spunky card collection and thriving business here.
How did you begin your card-making career?
I’ve always made my own cards and love all things paper. I studied fashion design, mostly because I was drawn to pattern and textile work. My first job at a ready-to-wear fashion company taught me everything from putting on a runway show, sales outreach and showing at market week, production in the garment district, and shipping to wholesale accounts. Various other work included concept design (color palettes), underwear design, and accessory design.
I found myself making greeting cards at my desk for co-workers, and eventually for their friends. I designed a tiny line of cards and showed them to a paper store around the corner from my apartment in Brooklyn. The shop owner purchased some cards! In good fortune, a customer that purchased a card from the store contacted me on etsy to make a baby shower invite… and the invite was for a buyer from Anthropologie. I sent the buyer samples, she purchased a couple cards, and my line and business grew and grew. Soon after, Paper Source found my work through a post on Design Sponge. I have been so lucky and I love what I do, and I hope it shows.
Where do you draw inspiration from? Food? Pop Culture? Timeless Motifs? Playful Puns?
I draw inspiration from my daily life, nature, and vintage textiles and wallpaper. I love a pun, but they mostly come after the design is complete.
What does your day look like as a card maker and designer?
About 9 years ago we moved to an old general store. Because it had a beautiful storefront, we opened a coffee/stationery shop, and my studio is nestled behind. Most of my days are spent fulfilling wholesale orders with my team. Being part of the warehouse keeps me in touch with what is selling and the shops I sell to.
What is your preferred medium?
I taught myself how to use procreate on an ipad and it has really streamlined my creative process. I toggle from my ipad to my computer until I am happy with the artwork, and then usually sit with it a few days to make sure I still love the card and message. Previously I hand sketched each design on paper, then scanned them into the computer to color with my neon pigments.
What does your creative process look like?
I usually do my designing in a few compact days when I need to print more cards. I really immerse myself in ideas for days. I have a folder I keep of things I love, places I’ve visited, or images I am inspired by that I reference. Then I just start drawing and see where it goes.
What are you most proud of as a creator and card maker?
I am so proud that I can help people convey their messages to friends and loved ones. There have also been a few shops that I was so excited to sell to, including many in other countries. Honestly, I’m happy every single time a card design works out. With the added neons in my printing process I don’t get to see proofs – so every card can be a risk but is also very rewarding.
I am also proud to say that we print all our cards on a 100% carbon-neutral press here in NY. Our paper and envelopes are both 100% recycled and our ink is vegetable-based based which is healthier for the planet.
Do you have any personal tidbits that you would like to share? Special talents/fun facts?
When I first started selling to Paper Source I hand-painted all the neon on the cards. Digital printing cannot achieve neons, so until I could print at the quantity I do today I was adding them with paint! Thankfully I no longer need to do this, and it opened me up to adding much more neon.
I just started taking pottery classes at a local studio, and I’m having so much fun doing something for myself and just playing! It feels good to make something without any expectations and try a new medium. I encourage everyone to learn something new and make something with your hands, it’s transformative.
Find Hartland Cards, such as Happy Anniversary My Love Card, You Brighten My Day Greeting Card, or Glowing Dinosaur Bones Birthday Card at our local store or online at papersource.com. For more inspiration and behind-the-scenes action, follow @hartland.cards on IG.
Photos by Autumn Jordan Photography