Aparna Varma is the sweet as sugar designer behind Green Bean Studio, a Toronto-based stationery line and design studio. Aparna’s personality comes through in her cards, which are sure to make you smile with punny sentiments and hand drawn characters inspired by her background in animation. One of my favorite parts of the Green Bean line is a series of 3D cards, that come with glasses! These cards are super fun and innovative, a guaranteed hit with recipients of all ages.
You studied to be an animator, and in 2013, decided to start Green Bean Studio. What made you decide to turn your drawing talents to greeting cards?
Designing characters and story lines for TV shows/movies was a lot of fun and I considered it to be my dream profession. During my post-grad I attended a class on illustrating children’s books (which I want to do sometime in my life) and it made me realize that I missed the feeling of having a tangible finished product in my hand. Something I could feel, send and share with other people – like the cards I had been making for friends and family for their birthdays for as long as I can remember. I never knew it was an avenue I could really pursue until I moved to Canada a few years ago and attended a few craft shows, which opened my eyes to this wonderful world of possibilities…
Tell me where you draw inspiration for your cute characters from.
From childhood toys (I had so many!) to books I read as a child – mostly fairy tales, all which had this magical yet innocent feel. I try to incorporate all that into my cards. I guess I try keeping even my ‘adult’ cards pretty much cute and audience friendly Given your animation background, do you begin to imagine story lines for the characters in your cards?
Most definitely! There is usually a whole family of characters for one card –all with unique stories and names.
You have a seriously cool series of 3D cards! Where did this idea come from?
Most of my friends are working on TV shows/movies all with super cool effects/CG/3D – I wanted to incorporate that new age ‘cool’ factor with an old school kick to the cards – and so 3D cards with glasses came to life!
It made a simple card more interactive, not only for the person receiving it, but also for everyone watching the receiver try on the glasses and look amazed – everyone wants in on the fun experience!
Please tell me about your creative process. Do all of your pieces start as drawings and evolve to paintings?
Ideas come to me at the most random time – I always keep sketchpad to write or sketch them. Every 2 weeks or so these ideas make it into my IDEA BOOK – from where I choose one to work on. Then there is more doodling, sketching, assembling references for color, composition and then I lay it down using acrylics/gouache after which it is scanned and digitally corrected for print bringing my characters to life. I usually have more of a creative week or two where I finish 5-6 designs.
Your cards incorporate your hand lettering – how have you developed your lettering style?
My own handwriting had to adapt to different geographical preferences: as a kid growing up in India there was a lot of emphasis on practicing cursive handwriting in school and during summer holidays. I then moved to Botswana with my parents for a few years where the emphasis was on printing. I had to adapt to these varying styles resulting in a very flexible style, which I can switch easily as per need.
Any new projects in the works?
This summer I am working on range of 3D cards –which I promise will be so much fun! Keep and eye out for tote bags and lapel pins too!