When it comes to style, greeting cards are probably as much subject to fashion trends as anything else. So anyone involved in designing with the hope of making money from it, probably wonders whether their sales would increase if they made a conscious effort to keep up with the current fashions in design.
Many articles and blog posts would advise us that anticipating trends is essential. But is it?
Early last year I came across a florist’s shop in town that I hadn’t previously noticed so, as I had some of my floral cards with me, I decided to go in and ask the shopkeeper whether she would be interested in selling my greeting cards, based on the assumption that occasions that call for flowers nearly always also call for a greeting card. The florist pointed to a range of cards in a rack along the back wall and politely told me that they stuck to this one range of cards.
So should I have gone home and tried to design something in that style?
Maybe there are two equally valid ways to go?
Maybe we could design for the younger end of the market, the demographic group that is likely to be far more concerned with keeping up with the latest fashions? Or, alternatively, we could recognise that it’s possible to be ‘stylish’ without necessarily being ‘fashionable’ and stick with our own natural style?
"You do not create a style. You work, and develop yourself; your style is an emanation from your own being." Katherine Anne Porter
Some years ago I attended series of fascinating lectures at the Victoria & Albert Museum by well-known designers of the time. I’ve forgotten almost everything I learnt there – apart from one thing! One of the lecturers – I think it was Charles Jencks - began his lecture with the questions, ‘What is ‘style’? and surprised us, earnest students that we were, with the answer, ‘Style is whatever I, and my friends, like’.
People are different! Many follow the rapidly moving cycles of fashion but just as many know what style they like and choose it, whether it is the ‘fashionable’ one or not! So we can choose which of these groups to target.
But if we choose to stick to our own ‘style’, disregarding fashion, we need to recognise the ‘niche’ market where we are likely find sales and not expect to sell in great numbers to anybody and everybody!
Quentin Blake has never been bothered by fashion – he continues to do what he has always done best, what he has become known for. I could say the same for Greeting Card Universe artists Carole Barkett, Chris Fothergill and Diana Ting Delosh, among many others. They have their own ‘style’ and their work appeals to people who enjoy that style and/or subject matter, regardless of the changing fashions.
It’s simply a case of realising the importance of finding your niche market. I have discovered that my style is mostly suited to the older age groups, which is hardly a surprise, given that I’m no spring chicken myself! So I will bear that in mind when deciding which outlets to approach. My foray into the florist’s shop now seems decidely naive and I won’t make a mistake like that again!
I’ve read that ‘insects’ are going to be all the rage this Spring so maybe a few will creep into my designs if it seems appropriate. But if they do appear, they will be in one of my own styles!
I am enormously thankful for the diversity of artists’personal styles. Just imagine how boring it would be if everyone followed the fashion trends!