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I’ve been working on greeting card designs for Happy Print Club and wanted to share a bit of the process of how a simple idea can branch out into many design variations and ultimately a final product.

For me, the idea for a greeting card can pretty much spawn from all kinds of inspiration. Anything from seeing the patterns and colors in nature while taking walks to flipping through my favorite magazines to conversations and just taking notice of the world around me. Sometimes an idea comes out of doodling a particular motif and playing around in my sketchbook, but sometimes it’s like a eureka moment when an image just pops up in my mind. I create really simple thumbnail mockups for whatever ideas I have and certainly not all of them are followed through on.


When I’m sufficiently motivated, I decide if I’m going to create something more polished and pick my medium – either using traditional art materials by hand or working digitally on the computer. When it comes to digital design, it’s especially easy to create a lot of variations and test out different color combinations quickly. For this particular example, I wanted to create an everyday hello card and tried out a bunch of my sketched out ideas in Illustrator.


Varying the scale, layout and motifs – I usually spend quite a lot of time just playing around. Sometimes the design is very similar to my sketch and sometimes it can just go in a totally different direction. I find it helps to work on a design, then let it sit for a few days so you can revisit with fresh eyes. Somehow, I always have a different perspective when I work in this way, rather than rushing through things.

In the end, I scratched my own full-color sunburst option because I wanted something less ink-heavy for printing. I tested out a super simple classic option to oversized cutoff type and the cute sun motif… I’m still wondering what option is the best for this card design.


Do you have a preference? Usually, I keep all the source files for the variations I create, just in case I want to revisit the idea or use an element for another project in the future. In the end, I just have to choose the option I like the best and go with it. I think it’s okay to sit on things, but at some point you have to launch!

That’s pretty much my straightforward process from idea to final design. The timeline varies from one day to many many weeks. Sometimes an idea just sits in incubation for a long time because I’m not as motivated or it doesn’t turn out as planned when I dive in. I’m pretty sure most creatives have a whole lot of work they are sitting on – unfinished works waiting to be rediscovered and dusted off. Or just ideas that linger, but don’t really result in anything.

That’s probably why it’s important to keep exploring, sketching and ultimately creating a lot… but picking and choosing what to follow-thru with and actually finish up.

What’s your creative process like? Would love to know how you go from an idea to finish project!

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