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Becoming a Greeting Card Designer

Updated: Jun 15, 2023

My family moved from the UK to New Zealand when I was five and my first creative memories are aboard the emigration ship where I drew and made things to pass time on our 12,000 mile journey to join my dad in his new job. That is where my business journey began!

Every day of that six-week voyage, I spent hours in the kids club immersed in worlds of my own creation - making plasticine models of home interiors, drawings of travel brochures, cross-sections of cruise ships, and hotels with tiny intricate bathroom layouts. I loved playing "shop" AND I designed my very first greeting card - a Valentine’s card to give to my dad when we docked in Auckland.

Nine Year Old Emma Lutz being presented with her Holiday on Ice competition prize, a Raleigh Chopper Bicycle

After that, I was always either drawing, making or reading. I won some art competitions too - the best prize was a Raleigh Chopper bike for the "Holiday On Ice" art competition.

As I started work, drawing was replaced with computer design, Corel Draw and Quark Xpress. Graphic design took me to work in the USA and Vienna for many years, from where I explored Europe and further afield. I carried on making things - soft furnishings for my first flat, gifts for friends, a fancy dress pantomime horse, and a full-size Bell Diver as a birthday gift. I loved the problem solving involved, experimenting with different materials and learning how they behaved. When my children came along, I moved to making baby clothes, patchwork quilts, painted wall murals, World Book Day costumes, set designs and props for school productions.

As the internet grew, I stumbled across a Surface Pattern Design event online and it was a lightbulb moment - drawing patterns to put on stuff was a job that people did! I joined online communities and enrolled in illustration courses to learn everything that I could about pattern design, illustration and how to use software needed to digitise drawings. I took my first freelance commissions and started to explore which creative direction to follow.

Luck (or fate) intervened on an art holiday in 2017 with some inspirational female entrepreneurs. During an enlightening week in Sardinia, we ate delicious food, talked art and creative business and three of us decided that greeting cards could be a good direction for our artwork.

We took advantage of all the events and publications that the greeting card industry had to offer and we asked a lot of questions which people were kind enough to answer. In 2019, I took the plunge and booked my first solo trade show to offer my greeting cards direct to shops. It was terrifying and exhilarating as I took my first orders - but I was hooked!

I now supply a growing number of independent gift shops and florists in the UK, and export all over the world. I work with some amazing small businesses to print my paper products in the UK and I have been nominated for an industry award in 2020.

I didn't know that my dad had kept that Valentine card until after he died, and it was a moment of reflection on how far I've come. Running a business is the most exhilarating and challenging ride and I love the fact that no two days are the same. I have a delightful commute to the studio at the bottom of my garden, I meet and work with lovely people. It feels as if every creative skill that I have cultivated since that early emigration trip are now utilised in running my studio and I feel very fortunate to do what I do. This is the perfect job for me!

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