How to identify trends that affect and influence the design of greeting cards … Amy Fitzgerald gives her expert advice

If you are a greeting card publisher or a greeting card designer, whether employed or freelance, knowing what will be popular is key to designing successful product; there’s no point in spending time producing a range of teddy bear cards, when all customers really want to see are cards featuring flamingos… or using a sugared almond palette when neons are in vogue. But how do you stay ahead of the market and ensure you are creating on trend, saleable designs and product? As a licensing agent, Amy Fitzgerald, needs to ensure all of the artists she manages are creating desirable, fresh designs that meet her clients future needs; so she is no stranger to sourcing and identifying up and coming trends. In this post, Amy kindly gives her tips on how to identify trends that affect and influence the design of greeting cards, as well as relaying what she considers are the four key areas of focus for 2021. 

Amy Fitzgerald

Many thanks Amy for agreeing to be interviewed for the Creative Card Collective blog, before we talk about trends, can you give us a little introduction to you, your background and your role at Bright?

I’ve spent many years working in talent and rights management agencies representing a wide range of creatives from debut authors & illustrators to global brands. What I like most about being an Agent and my role at Bright is supporting creatives in every aspect of their career and ensuring that their work reaches the widest audience across a broad range of mediums including licensing, products and publishing. It is fun to look for opportunities outside of the ordinary for our artists and grow their portfolios in a number of areas. 

Snapshot of the Bright Art Licensing website

How important is it for greeting card designers and artists to be aware of popular trends? 

Being on top of popular trends is incredibly important part of creating designs for the Greeting Card and Stationery market as publishers and retailers are often finalising ranges for the following year and even beyond. Artists, ultimately, want to ensure that their designs have commercial appeal so understanding the market and customers’ creative tastes is essential.  

Illustration by Bright artist Fiona Lee

If you haven’t got the budget to subscribe to a forecasting agency, how do you go about keeping abreast of trends? 

You definitely don’t need to rely on forecasting reports to familiarise yourself with trends. As long as you are keeping in touch with what is going on in the World and interpreting that in your own designs you will soon begin to recognise which aesthetics are popular with certain markets. 

Here are some of the ways I would suggest you can source trends that will help inspire your greeting card designs 

1. Social Events / Popular Culture
It would be impossible to discuss trends without looking at what is going on in the world around us. Greeting cards are fundamentally a means in which to stay connected with people and so it is important that they reflect today’s society. For 2021, this could be looking at how the pandemic has affected our day to day lives or even being familiar with popular TV shows such as The Queen’s Gambit and Bridgerton which could inform design aesthetics from chess imagery to muted florals. 

2. Digital Content Sharing Platforms
Platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr & TikTok are a great starting point to explore trends as they offer a digital mood board of ideas including patterns featured on the catwalk, Instagrammable street food and popular characters in children’s books and film. Ideas from all these areas and more will trickle down and inform and inspire greeting card trends from their content to their style. 

3. Interior Design / Wedding Aesthetics
Building on my previous point, interior design and popular wedding trends are a great way of finding out what colour palettes are trending within the design world. Retailers such as Made, Lick and Dulux often post a roundup of colours they think will be prominent in the coming year. Wedding aesthetics from the type of flowers used to the colour of the grooms socks are also a great way of seeing which palettes will dominate. 

4. Greeting Card Publishers & Retailers
Researching current designs that are being produced and sold by publishers and retailers respectively is an invaluable source in understanding what is proving popular with consumers. You will not only notice current trends but will also see what kind of designs/themes have longevity and remain popular for a long period of time. Industry publications like, Progressive Greetings, are also a brilliant source to keep up with industry news and trends. Some greeting card publishers create a wish list of the kind of designs they are currently looking for so it is worth keeping an eye of their websites and social media for any updates on this front. 

5. Be true to your style
Last but by no means least, don’t feel beholden to trends especially if they don’t feel right or reflect your style. You can use them loosely for inspiration (i.e. for colour palettes) but stay true to your own style and aesthetic as an artist. Trends are constantly evolving and publishers are always looking for those evergreen designs and themes that will remain timeless. 

We are currently in a rapidly changing situation, card designers and publishers are having to quickly turn new, often topical, product around to suit the mood of the nation. What do you see as the main key influencing factors for 2021?

After a year which disrupted lives globally, 2021 is looking to be more hopeful. Last year we saw people adjust to a new way of living as the coronavirus pandemic kept us away from social interaction and forced us to live our lives in an unprecedented way. While these practises are still in place, people seem to have taken stock of what is important in the midst of this chaos and kindness and connection remain key this year with people celebrating life events in new ways. 

Four key areas of focus for 2021 are: 

FEEL GOOD COLOURS
The rainbow motif was adopted as the symbol of hope in 2020 and I think it will continue to dominate in 2021 through bold colour palettes and joyful designs. Designers such as Versace and Christopher John Rogers are embracing mood-boosting prints and stripes in their Spring/Summer 2021 collections and I believe this kaleidoscopic trend will feature strongly across both cards and stationery. 

ELEMENTS OF NATURE
Having spent the majority of last year indoors people are more desperate than ever for a connection to the outside world. I believe we will see a growing interest in imagery inspired by nature. This trend could manifest itself in leafy patterns and indoor plant illustrations, earthy tones, bold florals or even beautiful exotic vistas as people dream of their next holiday. This trend is also reflected in the drive towards environmentally friendly products like ‘naked card’ and recyclable packaging.

AUTHENTIC REPRESENTATION
2020 shone a spotlight on representation with watershed moments like The Black Lives Matter protests. Agencies, publishers and retailers are taking steps to ensure their card & stationery offering better reflects and celebrates the diversity & uniqueness of today’s society. We are already seeing signs of this in new gender neutral kids’ ranges from Ricicle and Eureka and I believe diverse representation will rightfully continue to grow in 2021.

COTTAGECORE
The Cottagecore aesthetic is centred around quaint cottages and country life and is a trend that shows no signs of disappearing anytime soon. It is rooted in nostalgia, simple living and wholesome whimsy and feels very comforting in these unpredictable time. Imagery that is key to this trend including, gardening, floral patterns, woodland and farm animals and country kitchens. The colour palette is soft, warm and muted. 

Many thanks for all the good advice you have shared with us today Amy. Finally, can I ask which future trend are you personally most inspired by or looking forward to seeing and why? 

For me, authentic representation is essential and I am looking forward to seeing more designs that truly reflect the diversity of our society. Greeting cards allow us to stay connected and express all levels of emotions from celebration to sympathy so I think it is incredibly important that all people can relate and see themselves in the design and sentiment of the cards they send and receive. 

You can find out more about The Bright Agency by visiting their website or you can get in touch with Amy by email at amyf@thebrightagency.com 

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