Featured Designer: Kristin deNeeve of Semi Sweet Press

semisweetpress_holidaycards The holiday season is quickly approaching, which means you’ve gotta make sure your card game is strong. Semi Sweet Press has you covered, with hand-illustrated cards featuring items like half-eaten cookies (one of my faves) and inappropriate holiday desserts. California-based designer Kristin deNeeve is all sweet, with a predilection for drawing desserts and baked items. Her greeting cards are mostly sweet, with a dash of irreverence and a pinch of humor – sure to please everyone on your list!

I love that many of your cards feature baked goods (baked items are near and dear to my heart). Tell me why you decided on the name Semi Sweet Press.

Deciding on a name for my company took months. I wanted a name that gave me license to include designs with sweet illustrations and sentiments, as well as snarkier ones that had a little more bite. Bittersweet Press was my first idea, but I think Semi Sweet Press sums it up better. And it just happens to be the name of a kind of chocolate, which is a bonus!

While we’re on the topic, what is your favorite baked good?

Hmm. It’s a toss up between scones and donuts. Wait, do donuts count as baked goods since they’re fried? Then I’ll have to go with scones (especially if there’s chocolate in them).

Tell me about your design process (do you start out sketching and move to digital?).

I usually jot down my ideas in words, then develop them into ugly little doodles. Once I have an idea of what exactly I’m drawing, I’ll do a more detailed sketch. I draw best at smaller sizes, so once the sketch is finished, I’ll scan it into the computer, enlarge it, then print it out and trace it. Then I’ll scan the tracing in and color it in Photoshop. It sounds like an arduous process but it works for me. I’ve switched over to coloring the illustrations digitally, rather than painting in watercolor because it allows me the flexibility to change the color easily. It also allows me to be indecisive which isn’t always a good thing, lol. You can tell which designs are my earlier designs because they are done with watercolor.

Anatomy of Christmas was the first card you designed. Where did the inspiration for this awesome card come from? (I really hope you have an Uncle Bob!)

In the fall of 2012, I started freelancing, and I decided to do a promotional piece to send to prospective clients. I wanted to highlight my random sense of humor as well as illustration skills, so I made the Anatomy of Christmas card. I decided to print a bunch extra to send to friends and family, and it was a hit. Unfortunately Uncle Bob wasn’t really based on an actual uncle of mine, but he represents that odd family member that everyone has. The person that you only see a couple times a year and wouldn’t otherwise know if you weren’t related to him.
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Your holiday cards are super fun. I love the series of wrapped items – a friend once gave me a tennis racket wrapped exactly this way. What is it like dreaming up a holiday collection during the summer months? How do you get yourself into the festive spirit?

I wish I had thought to include a tennis racket in that design, lol! It can be difficult and bizarre to put yourself in that space, especially when it’s sunny and warm outside. I usually put on a Christmas movie (The Nightmare Before Christmas is a good one) to get myself in the spirit. I don’t actively watch it, it’s more in the background while I brainstorm ideas. But having Christmas on the brain in the spring/summer makes actual Christmas feel late. Like, didn’t we already do this?¬† breakfast_pouch_styled_IMG_3653_square

You’ve recently added zipped pouches to your line – any other new products or projects we should look out for?

Ah, yes the zipper pouches! The idea to make them has been rattling around in my head for so long, that I’m glad they’re finally here. They were so much work though, it made me realize how much time, money and effort goes into developing a brand new product. So for my next release I’m not designing any new categories, but new designs for existing categories: cards, tote bags, notepads, etc. I’ve had many people ask me for Mother’s and Father’s Day cards, so there will be some of those, as well as new birthday, thank you, and congratulations cards.

Happy Thanksgiving y’all! We’re thankful for you, dear readers. The lovely Kristin has a fab Black Friday sale ¬†running from today through Sunday, with 25% off everything in the shop (except zippered pouches)! Time to stock up on your holiday (and other) stationery.

Photos courtesy Semi Sweet Press and Madeloni Photography.

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