We're always trying our best to address issues that we see in the card industry. That’s why we’re keen to continue diversifying our card range to make sure that everyone who walks into one of our stores, or shops online can find a card that relates to them. We’ve teamed up with the incredible Nina Bombina to bring her wonderful, diverse card designs to you.
Want to learn more about Nina? We did too, so we sat down with her to chat about how her colourful creations come to be.
Above: Nina Bombina
Tell us a bit about yourself and your brand.
Hey, I’m Nina. I'm originally from Newcastle-under-Lyme in the Midlands but I went to uni in Cardiff, where I studied photography. So fun fact, I’m actually a photographer too. I've been living in London for the past five years and do all of my work from my one-bed flat. I started my brand in the first lockdown and it was kind of a long time coming. I've always been really into arts and crafts. Even when I was younger, I wasn't into playing with dolls, I just drew all the time and loved to make things. With lockdown, because I had more time and fewer distractions, it just naturally came about. I started with card designs and then expanded into prints. All of this of course coincided with the Black Lives Matter movement, which made me realise that we don't see many black and brown people on cards. So that's really where everything started.
How would you describe your design style in 3 words?
Colourful, cheerful and inclusive.
Above: Nina at her market stall
Can you tell us a bit about your design journey?
It started with a bit of a bang because as I was designing the cards, I decided to reach out to Moonpig and Funky Pigeon, not thinking anything would come of it, but they ended up taking my designs on board. So that was huge for me, I just didn't think something like that would be possible. Then they featured me on their Instagram page and newsletter and that's when a few magazines picked up my designs. I definitely didn't expect it to blow up like it did. My Instagram following has grown as I've made more products, and I sell on Etsy as well. Then in the last six months, I've started selling my things from market stalls as well.
Can you take us through your design process? How long does it take on average to complete one of your prints?
I actually use a digital collage technique, so I don't draw the individual elements but instead use a pre-existing library of graphic elements that I pull from. Then I collage on the page, changing the colours and adding text. My latest design was a ‘here for you’ sympathy card. I knew that I wanted hands to feature in the design, so I started with that as the main focus. Then I thought about the words that I wanted to be on there, so I used ‘here for you’ as the main heading, and then ‘rain or shine’. I knew I wanted to add a cloud with rain and a sun in there somewhere as well, so I gathered those elements and played around with different colour combinations. I'd say from start to finish that took me around two hours.
What helps you get in the mood to create?
I usually work in silence, I like to have no distractions and be completely focused, and I tend to hate my first draft. I'll put all the elements on the page, and I won't like it. Then I'll tweak things. That will probably take an hour and then the next hour I'll spend tweaking it until it’s perfect.
Above: Nina's workspace
You’ve had an incredible journey since you began selling your designs in 2020, what advice would you give to other young creatives starting out?
I'd say try not to be put off by how competitive the market is, because I feel like there's space for everyone. I thought when I first started everyone is doing this, so nothing will come of it, but it all worked out really well. Also, don't be afraid to reach out to those big companies that you dream of working with, because you never know what could happen. You may have designed something that’s just what they're looking for!
What were the main inspirations behind the cards that will be sold in Paperchase?
Well, I wanted to address the fact that there's a gap in the market for diverse cards. So, I wanted my designs to be inclusive. I also just wanted to capture all different types of occasions, not just birthday cards, all while incorporating bright, bold colours and celebrating fun. I love to create occasion cards that stand out and bring joy to their recipients.
Above: One of Nina's colourful designs
Inclusivity is obviously very important in your designs; what do you hope the future of the greeting card industry will look like?
I think it would be great if everyone could walk into a shop and find a card that reflects them. It's about finding those niches and making a card that represents each. I recently made a card that featured black men dancing on the front and I had someone reach out to tell me how nice it was, her son was actually a black dancer and she bought it to celebrate his birthday. I thought that was really nice, so I think if we can just create cards for different types of people that would be great!
Is there anything else that you would like to see mainstream retailers do to improve diversity?
There's a lot to cover. I think it’s important to work with a diverse range of designers, as this will naturally produce more diverse work. Also, celebrating all kinds of religious holidays and different events is really important.
How important are bright, bold colours in your work?
So important! I'm obsessed with bright colours. Everything I make is colour focused, I like my designs to stand out. When I'm selling at markets, my stall is usually the brightest and it's so nice to see people's reactions. As soon as they clock eyes on my store, they smile and that's really lovely to see. I've always been like a magpie to bright things.
Above: Birthday Queen card
Do you have a favourite of the cards going into our stores?
Yes, I do! I really love the Birthday Queen design. It’s so colourful and I love all the different types of women and accessories that are featured.
We hoped you enjoyed learning all about Nina. Ready to discover her amazing cards for yourself?