Valentine’s Day is just three days away. The clock is ticking people. So, of course you’ve already picked out awesome cards for your fave people. Right? Or, maybe you’re like me and put the pro into procrastination and haven’t got everybody on your list ticked off.  (For me, Valentine’s Day is a reason to send love to my fella, family, gal pals and coworkers. That’s a lot of paper products!  And today’s featured designers are making it super easy for me you!

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Ready to roll up your sleeves and get crafty? Swell Made Co. has you covered. Designer Lesley has created a series of four printable tags featuring her six-letter sentiments. These sweet tags can be customized by printing on bright card stock, or on white card stock and adding a little watercolor. Use them for mini notes or decor. Added bonus, there’s a cute printable for mini flags that can be used to decorate baked goods and gifts.  Have a look at the Swell Made Co. blog for inspo.

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Inspiration Nook is one of my fave blogs to read. Lary, the seriously talented creative gal behind the blog shares her DIY projects, photos and recipes. I love the combo of Lary’s (pronounced  l-o-t-t-i-e) distinct lettering, watercolor and sweet sayings. You will too. So head over to her blog and download her Valentine’s printables – there are three to choose from.

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Hip-Hip-Office-Mini-Designs_Digital_DownloadRemember the super cute mini-Valentine’s that you received when you a kid? The ones with the punny sayings? I loved those. I still give them out to my coworkers. That’s where the  magic of Allison at Hip-Hip comes into play. Allison’s designs are vibrant and fun – in short, they are irresistible. For $2, you can download a set of six designs (there are three fantastic sets in total). Print them out on card stock, do a little cutting, and you’re set!


awesome sauce

They say the way to a man’s heart is through is stomach. I believe this to be true of women too…or at least true of me. If this food comes in the form of chocolate – even better. Here’s a round up of some of my fave punny food-themed Valentine’s cards. Be forewarned, you made need a snack.

I’m pretty sure Michele of Lucky Horse Press gets me. Her letterpress and silkscreened stationery line is funny, nostalgic and all around awesome. She creates great designs and lovingly prints her cards using a hand-mixed inks that make up a great color palette.

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Hea-Mi and Nova, the dynamic New York based duo behind A La Carde, love good eats, and their cards reflect this.  Hand painted and lettered, their cards are seriously well-crafted. They bring their fun sense of humor to each caption and come up with daily designs that they share on Instagram.


 

Paula of Paula & Waffle is another talented NYC designer, and her line of cards combines heartfelt and sweet sentiments with smile-inducing illustrations.

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Toronto-based Lichia is the artist behind Gotamago, a stationery line that features hand-painted and lettered designs. Each card is a mini work of art, and is frame-worthy.

a perfect matcha

apple of my pie

 

Montreal-based Chris Henschel is the artist behind Raccoons and Robots. His hand-painted cards feature what I presume to be two of his great loves: beer and cheese.

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stout of this world

 

 


Carins Paper Party

My love for my girlfriends is constant and I am so grateful for them everyday. I try and let them know this throughout the year, but especially on Galentine‘s Day (February 13th). I find this to be the real reason for celebrating Valentine’s, or at least the fun part. Girls always appreciate the fun aspects of Valentine’s Day from the fun candies to the thoughtful cards. Here’s my top 14 picks this year that definitely share my friends humor/feelings on this made up holiday.

{first image via Carin’s Paper Party}Julie Ann ArtJulie Ann Art Sorry Not Sorry

Julie Ann ArtEmily McDowellEmily McDowell StudioSparkvitesSparkvitesKiss and Punchkiss and punch 
Lark n RavenLark+RavenSea +Lake Paper Co.Sea+Lake Paper Co.Hartland BrooklynHartland BrooklynQueenie's Cardsqueenie’s cardsGalentine Nocturnal PaperNocturnal PaperMonkey Mind DesignMonkey Mind DesignBenchpressedBenchpressedDesign By ErykahDesign by Erykah


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Shifting Status Kuo is a playful, super sweet line of stationery and lifestyle goods designed by artist Tiffany Kuo. Trained as a printmaker, Tiffany uses this art form to make greeting cards, prints and textiles – all of which are lovingly hand-crafted in her studio. Her innovative designs include a line of tea-themed cards that incorporate individually wrapped teabags. And, Tiffany’s pillowcases are the perfect gift for Valentine’s Day (and weddings, and just because).

You studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and fell in love with printmaking. What about that particular medium resonated with you?

During my time at School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), I really got to experiment with woodblock printing, etching, and of course screen printing. I fell in love with how versatile screen printing can be. It gives me the freedom to print on fabric, paper, cork, wood etc. Regardless of the printmaking technique, I was always drawn to the hands on process of mixing ink, pulling a series of prints, and embracing the perfect imperfections. Printmaking lends itself to creating multiples or an edition of something, and it just made sense for me to incorporate printmaking with how I create my greeting cards.

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Please tell me a bit about what your creative process is like. How does a design move from an idea to a finished piece?

  1. Most of my designs start out as a short phrase that gets added to a bullet point list on my phone. It can be a pun I want to play with or a concept I want to incorporate.
  2. Then I go through the list and pick a few to sketch out with pencil. These rough sketches often include notes to myself in the margin and arrows pointing here and there to assign ink colors for printing.
  3. I use a light table and my favorite black pens to ink my sketches and manually do color separation of screen printing layers. My process is quite low tech in comparison to other designers’ but I really enjoy the process drawing directly on paper.
  4. During my design process I have to be mindful of how the ink and paper color will inform the final piece. Sometimes I’ll mix a small batch of ink and test the color out on swatches of paper before finalizing my design.
  5. Lastly, the designs are exposed onto a silk screen and each layer of ink is pushed through the stencil to create a print!

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Your Cup Of… cards are so very sweet. I love the idea of reading a handwritten note while pouring yourself a cup of tea. What was the inspiration for these cards?

Yes, that would definitely enhance the experience of receiving and reading a handwritten note! I wanted to create a card that was also like a tiny gift in itself. When I think about thanking someone, I thought it’d be a sweet gesture if the card had a little something extra. Once I had “Cup of Thank You” designed and the tea bag assembly figured out, the rest of the series followed.

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What appeals to you about snail mail?

I’m a very sentimental person and have kept almost every card or letter written to me in a giant tin box. I love that snail mail is a tactile keepsake of a handwritten note from someone. When I get a particularly funny or sweet card, I tape it up around my desk area so I’m reminded of the sentiment. Email is fast and convenient but let me ask you… regardless of how meaningful the message, how often do you display a printed email? Probably less often than a thoughtfully written card or letter, right? Snail mail takes more thought and there’s always that moment of delight when you get it in your mailbox!

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Your pillowcases are simply genius! Any new projects on the go, or dream projects that you’d like to create?

Thank you! The “Next to You” pillowcases have a special place in my heart because they are directly inspired by my long distance relationship. Sometimes love is about appreciating the comfort of each other’s company and it’s such an honor when sweet couples young and old choose my pillowcases to share the love.

Aside from dreaming up more card and pillowcase designs, I’d like to add more gift items to my line. My dream project would be to publish an illustrated children’s book! I have a couple of books that I worked on several ago but put on hold while I focused on my card and gift designs. I grew up loving all of Dr. Seuss’ and Shel Silverstein’s books and it would be amazing if I could create a book that little kids love. I welcome all and any advice to make this happen!

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Valentine’s Day is around the corner – how do you feel knowing people are spreading love by sending your cards?

Let me start by saying that I’m a hopeless romantic and love all kinds of romantic gestures (even the cheesy ones). Knowing that other people chose MY cards to spread love all across the world gets me all sappy! Just think…. my cards could be in someone’s snail mail keepsake box!

What was the most memorable Valentine card you’ve received?

As with most long distance couples, my boyfriend and I often send each other snail mail and care packages. My favorite ones are always with his funny doodles and captions. We have an inside joke involving a mischievous koala character and my favorite Valentine includes his drawings of the koala saying some pretty funny things!

Because we love you 8balloons readers, and Tiffany is awesome, she is offering 20% off of her website shop with the code 8BALLOONS20. It  expires 2/14/16 and is not valid for the Shifting Status Kuo Etsy shop. 


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With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I found myself thinking about spreading love and kindness (through stationery, of course). Atiliay is a gorgeously hand-crafted stationery line that incorporates hand-lettering, stamping and stitching. These cards are created to bring happiness to their recipients and beyond. Atiliay is committed to supporting charitable causes through the sale of each card. Olivia Lin, the designer behind this line of paper goods that give, understands and embodies the spirit of giving.

I always say that everything sounds better in French. Tell me about the origin of Atiliay’s name. 

Atiliay’s name is based on the French word “atelier” which means a workshop or studio, especially for an artist or designer. I have always loved the sound of the word and spelled it the way I pronounce it. The meaning was perfect, too, as Atiliay is my space for making and creating.

moonandbackIn addition to creating unique and pretty greeting cards, you are committed to supporting charitable causes. What inspired you to making giving a part of your everyday life?

I think it actually started back when I was a little — I remember being 5 or 6 and seeing those commercials that were asking people to donate to help feed hungry children. I might not have fully understood it back then, but I feel like those images stuck with me. As I got older, I started to learn more about world hunger, human trafficking, women’s rights, and animal rights. The more I learned about the horrible things that were happening, the more I felt a sense of urgency and need to do something about it. I also realized that I didn’t need a lot of money, power, or fame to help — I could use what money I had, what time I had, my voice, or change my own lifestyle to contribute.

In 2007, I had the opportunity to go to South Africa with TOMS shoes on a shoe drop. We met a non-profit called Food4Africa (F4A) who acted as our guides. We went to the same towns and schools they provided meals for to give out shoes. F4A is a small organization but they help so many children and are incredibly passionate about it. It was really touching to see what they were doing as well as meeting the little ones they were providing meals for. I left knowing I wanted to support their efforts and somehow incorporate that with my creative work. Even though we are miles apart, I am really happy to say that we have kept in touch and I continue to support their work through Atiliay to this day.

Food4Africa is not only a huge source of inspiration for me, but they are also the reason why Atiliay exists! Four Valentine’s Days ago I decided that for a donation of $5, I would make a hand stamped card and send it to your loved one for you with the proceeds going towards providing meals for a preschool I started sponsoring through F4A. I was able to secure over a year’s worth of meals, which was so awesome! The fundraiser made me realize that my first love has always been art and crafting and that making cards for a cause was a way I could fulfill my own passion while enabling others to join me in making a positive impact.

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How do you select the organizations that you donate to?

I want to make sure that each customer’s purchase is going towards a good cause and making as much of an impact as possible. I try to select organizations that I have personally volunteered with or know someone who has. I have also researched and found great non-profits to support on my own. I look for organizations that are 4-star rated on Charity Navigator and I also try to choose non-profits where the funds go directly to the programs. As cards aren’t very expensive items, my goal is to pair each one with programs where a small amount can make a large difference — for example with Food4Africa, one meal costs only 5 cents, so donating a portion of a $5 card can make a substantial impact. It’s also very important to me to donate towards programs that are vegan-friendly — when I am making Kiva loans I make sure to choose ones that do not bring harm to animals.

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Your stationery items are hand-crafted with great care and some incorporate multiple art forms. Please tell me a bit about your creative process. 

Each card starts with an idea — sometimes it’s a sentiment or phrase I like, a picture I have in my head, or imagining up something I wish existed. I try to write down/make rough drawings of everything, otherwise I forget! I take whichever idea is really resonating with me and sit down to figure out how I can incorporate stamps and stitching, or whether it should be hand-lettered and all text. Sometimes I know immediately what I want to do and sometimes there’s a lot of playing around with different ideas and tweaking. For example, with the long-distance love card, I had everything finalized except I wasn’t sure what to connect the states and heart with — stamps were too hard as each path would be different and I didn’t think drawing matched the look of the stamps. Out of the corner of my eye I saw some embroidery thread on my desk and that is where the stitching on cards began! It can sometimes take a bit of experimenting, sketching, and trying out concepts to see what will work. Once the sketch is finalized, I move on to creating the stamps or lettering. I make a sample card, make any last adjustments, and the card is complete!

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How have you developed your hand-lettering? Any sources of inspiration? Any advice for someone starting out?

I’ve made a conscious effort to invest time into practicing lettering — I will write letters and words over and over again until I like how it looks and experiment with different looks. Sometimes my hand is so used to writing a word a certain way but I’ll do something different and go super loopy or really long and narrow etc. to experiment. Practicing and trying new things has really helped me improve and develop my style.

I was really inspired by Sharisse of @PiecesCalligraphy to really focus and to begin exploring lettering. I came across her feed because she was donating to a fundraising IG auction I had heard about. Her feed is beautiful and she gives a lot of useful tips and advice. She is one of the founders of @HandletteredABCs which is a wonderful community of folks who letter! They provide different prompts and challenges (the first one was writing a letter of the alphabet each day, hence the name) and everyone is so encouraging and inspiring — I have made some awesome friends there and am currently participating in this year’s round of ABCs. I also find a lot of inspiration from Nina at @anintran (the other founder of HandletteredABCs), Lindsay of @thepostmansknock, and Amanda at @AmandaArneill. They all have different lettering styles and I love seeing what they are creating!

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For someone starting out, I’d say to dive right in! Start small with the different strokes then start putting them together to create letters (a lot of the IG accounts I mentioned post lettering lessons and tips which are so helpful). I’d also recommend looking at examples of work that you like and try to imitate the lines and shapes to get started. Most importantly, don’t get discouraged — there are some days when I don’t like anything I have written! But if you keep writing and working at it, you will get to a place where you see yourself improve and are happy with your work.

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You use lino cuts, hand lettering and embroidery in your work – are there any other art/craft mediums that you’d like to experiment with?

I LOVE the look of letterpress and would love to dabble in that!  I have also always wanted to take pottery classes and work with a wheel — it’s a goal of mine to someday live in a house where I make all the dishes, plates, and mugs (it might be sometime in the very, very distant future!). Another thing I’d really like to try my hand at is macrame — I feel like there are so many possibilities with this craft, from the designs to the type of fiber you use.

 


DJ KhaledIt might be the beginning of the year, but for me it’s winding down with my favorite holiday to celebrate with cards until, well, this coming December. Obviously, I believe you should tell your loved ones you love them everyday blah blah blah, but come on, how much fun is Valentine’s Day! I love it for the cheesy cheap heart-shaped chocolate boxes where every piece is a mystery and you bite into each one and then hate yourself later for eating the whole box. Especially the pieces that were disgusting (but you ate them anyway). I don’t believe you if you tell me you didn’t ever buy yourself one.

And well, we all know the other reason as to why I love this holiday…the CREATIVE CARDS! Remember receiving little cards in your cubby hole in elementary school? I do! Whether you love to hate V-Day, are a complete sappy romantic, or if you love pop culture and hip hop,  I got you covered. So let’s start this week with the best hip hop themed Valentine’s Day cards.

2016 Kate Spade Planner

There is something about a fresh new planner that gets me every time and I am pretty sure I am not alone. Like the New Year, it symbolizes a fresh new blank space for anything and everything you want to create. How much better does it get? Everyone has there own needs for a planner, some may just look for aesthetics for inspiration, others may need the perfect amount of space for numerous projects.

I aim to look for both, but when in doubt I always pick the best layout as I need it for all that I am working on. Either way, I got you covered with these great options. You can’t go wrong. Here is to a new year of many more creative inspirations!2016 Kate Spade Planner Quote

Kate SpadeRifle PaperRifle Paper Co.2016 Paper Source Foil PlannerPaper Source2016 Paper Source Brushstroke PlannerPaper Source


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Whimsy + Wild is a line of stationery and art prints created by artist and letterer Julie Wylie. Hoping to inspire people to send snail mail, Julie strives to create greeting cards that will bring joy to recipients. Julie’s designs feature a limited color palette, with striking black and white designs that highlight her gorgeous script and lettering. (And, her snail mail stamp is simply the sweetest!)

Why is snail mail important to you?

I love snail mail because it’s a very intentional process. Sending a piece of mail means that you took the time to sit down and write a note to someone who means something to you. You carved a little time out of your day and to me that says a lot. It says that you care about the recipient and you want to brighten their day a little bit. I think something like that is really important. Especially in this time of technology and moments passing by so quickly—snail mail is there to remind you to slow down.

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Tell me about a memorable piece of snail mail you received. 

A while back before we were married, my husband sent me a piece of snail mail. Just a simple letter that he wrote to me for fun complete with silly drawings of snowflakes and a snowman. I loved it. I actually ended up using it as part of a still life for a drawing I was working on in art school that included items that meant a lot to me. I still have the letter in a box where I keep all of the little notes my husband leaves for me!

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How does your love of the handwritten word impact your design process?

A majority of my designs become greeting cards, so the handwritten word is really important for my process. Trying to think of new designs that can speak to the person receiving them and make them smile—that’s a big goal. And I love having a blank interior for my cards. It’s fun that the first thing someone sees is my design on the front, but the note on the inside… that’s the really important stuff, and I want people to keep writing that—being able to give them a beautiful canvas to do that is key.

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Your hand-lettering is gorgeous. How have you developed your various scripts and fonts?

Thank you so much! It has definitely taken the last couple of years to really hone in on my skill and create consistent work that I’m proud of. A lot of it just comes from practice, which is something people always recommend when you want to learn a new skill. Practice makes progress! It’s totally trial and error, though. Sometimes I’ll try out a new style and it just falls flat. Finding the styles that feel right and feel like me can be hard but totally worth the effort.

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I see a lot of creatives practicing their lettering each day. Is this something you do as well?

I wouldn’t say that I do every single day, but multiple times a week for sure. Usually it’s not even for new products but for fun. Sometimes I’ll be sitting there and a quote will pop into my head and I’ll get the urge to letter it, so I do! Other times I’ll pull out my favorite tools and letter anything and everything just for a little bit of practice—every once in awhile a new design will come out of these moments, so that’s really special.

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Who are some of your favorite designers?

There are seriously so many amazing designers in the industry, it’s super hard to pick a few! I’m inspired by my peers constantly. Some of my very favorite stationers are Kristen of Worthwhile Paper, Yas of Quill & Fox, Amy Heitman, Ashley of Evermore Paper Co, and Eva of Sycamore Street Press. I just really feel like they are all killin’ it with their work & business! Honored to be among them in this industry. Also to note is Molly Jacques who is a seriously rad hand letterer!

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What do you do when you need inspiration during your creative process?

I’m a very visual person, so often times I’ll hop on Instagram or Pinterest. Some people may disagree with this tactic, but I find that it works really well for me. I’m not looking for specific things but just seeing so many amazing photos in one place gets my creativity flowing. Although, I’ll be honest in saying that I really want to make it a goal to find inspiration elsewhere too. I’m looking to spend more time outside this year (when the weather gets warmer!) to really draw inspiration from one of my favorite places: nature.

Any goals for 2016?

Of course! My biggest goal is to just keep creating and making beautiful things for people. It’s so much fun to see a design all the way through from the initial idea to the final product, so getting to experience that over and over is great. I have some new screenprints that have been in the works for months, so I’m eager to finally get those in the shop soon! I’d also love to expand my wholesale side of the business and find new stores that are a great fit for Whimsy and Wild. It’s a huge honor when a store wants to carry my work—kind of like a “pinch me” moment—so I’m looking forward to growing in that area.


youaremyjam

Back in 2014, my New Year’s resolution was to write a letter/send a card every day of the year. It turns out that sending paper correspondence is habit forming, and I continued throughout 2015. With another year upon us, I find myself  putting pen to paper each day, writing letters to penpals, family and friends, and sending paper greetings to mark special occasions. It goes without saying that I hoard paper products have a stash of cards on-hand at all times. Here’s a round up of some of my fave letterpress cards.

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Little Goat Paper Co.

chezgagne chezgagne_friendship timeline

Chez Gagne Letterpress

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Wayfare Press

candles_dearlola cutebebe_dearlola

Dear Lola Letterpress

 

 


lets kick somePAGEFIFTYFIVE

Happy 2016 friends! I’m kicking off the year with some snail mail love. I’m so glad New Year’s cards are a thing. It’s the best time of year to send loved ones well wishes for the weeks and months ahead. Clean slate, fresh start, endless possibilities. (And, if you’re like me and put the pro in procrastination, New Year’s cards are your solution for holiday cards that didn’t go out!) Want to take the year by storm, PAGEFIFTYFIVE offers up a perfect sentiment. Starting off the year with a good deed? Read more about Atiliay’s paper goods for a cause. Looking to craft your own message? A simple ‘Happy New Year’ will do!

atiliay

Atiliay

happiest new year

bimpressed

B.IMPRESSED

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HNY1_grandeThe Paper Cub Co. 

Hennel Paper Co.