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Picture this: You’re strolling through the greeting card aisle at the grocery store. Maybe you’re even more obsessed with stationery, and you’re shopping for cards at a specialty shop. Either way, one thing is pretty much guaranteed… you’ve got plenty of options! The days of boring cards for special occasions are long gone, and consumers now have all kinds of choices when they’re in the market for the perfect way to celebrate a birthday, holiday, or milestone. In fact, the demand for creative, unique cards is so high these days that there’s sure to be a place for a talented greeting card designer who is willing to invest the time and energy to get their work out in the world.
When it comes to greeting cards, the possibilities are endless, so if you have stationery ideas and an eye for design, nothing should stop you from exploring this exciting, creative field.
Interested in becoming a greeting card designer? Keep reading to learn more about this career path.
The art, lettering, and messages you come across when shopping for cards have to come from somewhere. Enter greeting card designers!
A greeting card designer is an artist, illustrator, or graphic designer who brings greeting cards to life. They are responsible for the creative journey of each card, starting with the seed of an idea until the card is complete. Then, they get to rest in the knowledge that their creation is spreading love and well wishes among friends and loved ones. That’s a pretty fulfilling way to use your natural creativity and artistic talent!
For a greeting card designer, it starts with the idea. Like all artists, greeting card designs must constantly remain in search of potential inspiration. Their next great card might be borne from something they hear, see, taste, smell, or touch. It might come from a meaningful conversation they have with a friend or family member. It might even come from a dream. The key is to stay open to those “aha!” moments.
Once a designer has the nugget of an idea in mind, they need to get that idea on paper. Some artists will draw or paint the designs for their greeting cards by hand. Others will work with programs like Illustrator or Procreate. Regardless of the medium they choose, greeting card designers should aim for originality and freshness in their work.
Completing the art is often only half the battle. While some greeting cards don’t feature words on the front and are blank on the inside, many consumers do expect the cards they buy to have the words they’re struggling to find. It’s up to the greeting card designer to decide how written messages will work into the overall look of the card. Whether by hand or using a digital program, they’ll then add the words to create the finished product.
If a card has added touches like ribbons or pop-up elements, those are also determined by the designer.
Basically, it’s up to a greeting card designer to conceptualize and bring to life every aspect of the cards intended to help people celebrate birthdays and other special occasions. Greeting card designers also have the tough task of finding the words and images best suited for people struggling with loss, grief, and other difficult experiences.
Here are a few steps you might take on the road to becoming a greeting card designer:
There’s no “official” educational path to becoming a greeting card designer, but a design degree can’t hurt! Many colleges and universities offer these programs, which expose students to elements of artistic theory and teach them the practical fundamentals of various types of design. Art school is, of course, also an option for aspiring creatives of all stripes.
One of the benefits of getting a design degree is that it will allow you to apply your artistic skills to other projects and media before, during, or after your journey with greeting cards, specifically. Plus, having a design degree will give you a bit more credibility when you’re seeking out opportunities in the creative industry.
While a design or art degree can certainly help an aspiring creator make professional inroads, many creatives would argue that experience is the best teacher. You can develop your own aesthetic and artistic perspective by dabbling in a wide range of design work. All of that can then be applied to your work making greeting cards.
Seek out opportunities to design anything and everything, either in a formal work environment or as a hobby. If friends or family members are building businesses or side hustles, volunteer to work on their branding. There really are opportunities for design everywhere if you’re willing to look for them.
Paint Cards by Hand
Hand Painted Greeting Card Design
ZipRecruiter notes that in 2021, the average greeting card designer earned $37,992, or roughly $18 per hour. The majority of designers earned somewhere between $25,000 and $37,500.
But, earnings really do depend on skill level, location, and experience. There’s also a significant discrepancy in the field as a whole, since some designers work for large companies, while others run their businesses independently and sell their cards via Etsy and elsewhere.
A greeting card designer can use their skills in a few different capacities and settings. Let’s break down a few of the biggest options.
Naturally, a greeting card designer’s abilities and talents are required by a greeting card company. Major brands like Hallmark and American Greetings produce the majority of greeting cards sold at large mainstream retailers. Designers with ample experience may be able to get their foot in the door with one of these companies.
But the bigger corporations aren’t the only way to go! Starting smaller will open up opportunities for fledgling designers and can offer a useful stepping stone for those who want to pursue design work with greeting card companies in the future. That’s why you might consider…
Freelance Greeting Card Designer Work
Freelance greeting card designers can create designs and sell them to card and stationery companies while remaining independent of those companies. As a freelancer, you can stay true to your creative impulses and work with brands that you love. While you get to call a lot of your own shots, you won’t reap some of the benefits of being an employee of a larger company. Plus, it requires a lot of hustle to stay motivated to create new designs and pitch them to potential partners.
Sell Your Cards Independently
If you’d like to keep your greeting card operation even smaller, you can produce your own designs with the help of manufacturing partners and then sell them via Etsy or other online marketplaces and at in-person fairs and events. You’ll maintain total control of your projects and can grow at your own speed. That being said, producing and selling your greeting cards calls for greater investment on your part.
Each route for a greeting card designer has its own drawbacks and advantages. No matter what you choose, though, you’ll be practicing your craft—and practice is key in all creative pursuits.
Greet a New Career!
If you have an interest in art and design and have thoughtful words to share, you might just have a future as a greeting card designer, whether you choose to work independently or for a larger card company. Next time you’re shopping for a greeting card at the store, think about how exciting it would be to see your designs for sale. That will keep you motivated!
Have Fun With Greeting Cards!
Explore Your Creativity: Create a Playful, Personal Greeting Card