With digital communication continually on the rise, handwritten notes and letters are sadly less popular than they once were. Email and social media are slick and shiny, but can the electronic ping of a new message hitting your inbox even begin to compete with that hopeful feeling of finding a bundle of snail mail waiting for you? Doubtful. Yes, digital modes of conversation are substantially more efficient and convenient than their analog counterparts, which means they’re here to stay. But if you love sending and receiving snail mail, you can help it make a comeback… with the right stationery courtesy of a stationery designer.
For personal exchanges, at least, higher-tech forms of communication have nothing on the charm and uniqueness of beautiful letters and cards. Stationery designers have the power to create the means by which people share their thoughts with each other! If you love art and design and have an affinity for sending mail, it’s a career path worth considering. Read on for more information about what it takes to be a stationery designer and how to look for stationery designer jobs.
What Is Stationery Design?
Stationery design refers to the process an artist or designer uses to create one-of-a-kind letterhead, greeting cards, business cards, and other paper products used for personal—and even professional—correspondence.
Stationery design of the professional variety typically focuses more on branding. Companies will often look for designers to apply their logos and additional signature elements to letterhead and other materials. The finished product can be used to really make a statement to customers!
Other types of stationery design allow for a little more room to play and be creative. Designers who don’t specialize in professional branding apply their artwork to greeting cards and other pieces of stationery that a customer might send to celebrate a birthday, new job, wedding, anniversary, or promotion. Their stationery may also be used to console someone in a time of grief or to make amends after an argument.
Stationery can play many roles. Stationery design can too!
What Does a Stationery Designer Do?
A stationery designer is responsible for every step of the creative process behind a piece of stationery. Here are some of the tasks they’ll need to complete:
- Brainstorm concepts and occasions. Before designing a piece of stationery, a designer should get clear on what they’re trying to achieve with their work. There are a few questions to consider. Is there a particular moment or occasion I want to celebrate or commemorate with this stationery? Who is my target customer? What is the proper balance of art and text? What style am I going for? Answering these questions will help a designer begin to focus on a new project.
- If necessary, meet with the client. If a stationery designer is creating stationery products featuring a company’s logo and/or branding—or working on a super personal project like wedding stationery—they’ll need to spend some time talking to that company about their overall vision. Once they’ve received marching orders from the client, they can approach the design process with an extra boost of confidence.
- Make art! Now it’s time for the part of stationery design that is probably most appealing to artists and creatives—the actual design! Designers might choose to draw or paint illustrations for their stationery by hand. Alternatively, they may opt to create designs in software like Procreate or Adobe Photoshop.
- Add text. While stationery always leaves room for a handwritten note (that’s kind of the whole point!), it often also includes lines of text conceived by the designer. The designer will come up with the words they’d like to share, then write them by hand, typeset them, or create a font all their own.
- Choose materials for the final product. Stationery designers that work independently from larger companies (more on that below) will need to play a more active role in the actual manufacturing of their designs. They’ll choose the paper stock, envelopes, and other extra touches to help bring their vision to life.
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How to Become a Stationery Designer
Like many other jobs in creative industries, stationery design doesn’t necessarily have a predefined career path. Aspiring stationery designers, however, can take certain steps to set themselves up for success. Here are some things to consider if you’re interested in working as a stationery designer:
Consider a Design Degree
A degree isn’t technically required for stationery designers in most settings, but it can’t hurt! A design degree or art degree is a good place to start.
Pursuing a degree in a creative discipline will give you the chance to learn the basics of all kinds of artistic forms, including illustration, drawing, collage, and painting. As a stationery designer, you’ll want to be comfortable working in these forms so you can create unique visuals for your stationery. Studying design at a college, university, or art school will also give you exposure to the design software you’ll be expected to use when creating your products.
Last but not least, these programs will introduce you to the principles of art and design that will ensure that the stationery you make is as appealing as possible to the eye. You’ll be grateful for that knowledge when you’re putting your designs out there for potential customers!
Gain Other Design Experience
For aspiring designers, it’s about more than just a degree. Experience goes a long way!
If you dream of designing stationery products, you should take advantage of every creative opportunity that presents itself to you. Seek out jobs that will give you access to a wide range of creative projects. Pick up freelance design work. Volunteer to help friends with any art and graphic design needs they have for their side hustles and other personal endeavors.
If all else fails, spend your free time practicing art and design for fun! Practice really does make perfect, and it’s helpful to have a portfolio of work to present to potential clients.
Stationery Designer Salary
According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual salary for a stationery designer is $52,202. This equates to approximately $25 per hour. Designers who have more experience and who work on larger, more lucrative projects will earn more than their less experienced counterparts.
Jobs for Stationery Designers
Talented stationery designers can look for work in a variety of ways and settings. Here are a few notable stationery designer job options:
Naturally, a stationery company is an obvious fit for a stationery designer’s skills. Companies that produce cards, letterhead, and other stationery in large numbers will always need plenty of creatives to offer their artistic eye and aesthetic to the product line.
Freelance Stationery Design
Freelancing is always an option! As a freelance stationery designer, you can create stationery designs and sell them to stationery companies as an independent contractor. You might also offer your design services to a company that needs help with their branded products. In any case, you’ll need to negotiate the terms of the agreement, set deadlines, communicate with the client, and deliver your best work in a timely fashion.
Small Stationery Business
If designing greeting cards and bespoke letterhead is more your speed, you might also consider setting up an Etsy shop or selling your work at local craft fairs. This way, you’ll have full control over the direction your work is taking.
Remember: snail mail isn’t dead! As a stationery designer, you can help ensure that it lives a long and healthy life. Your work deserves a place on the cards and letterhead that people use to share their thoughts and feelings with those they love.
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