Q: Is there anything better than getting home from a long day to see a stamped card with your name on it lying on your mat?
A: There being an animal on it 🐶
Receiving a card makes you feel like the most special person on the planet. The thought of someone going out of their way to get a card just for you makes your heart feel all warm and full. Knowing that the sender has taken their time picking out a card that they think will make you laugh, smile or cry and then walked it down to a post-box pretty much makes you Beyoncé.
In an effort to take the card receiving experience one step further than that, we caught up with illustrator and card designer Lousie Mulgrew to find out what inspires her cute watercolour cards. You never know, she may have had someone just like you in mind whilst she was designing her cheeky animal greetings.
Do you have anyone in particular in mind when you are designing your cards?
It can really help to have someone in mind when coming up with ideas, and often my designs start as an original that I’ve made for friends or family.
I like to try and capture a relationship in my illustrations and hope this might reflect the relationship between the people giving and receiving the card.
What do you think makes a great card design?
There are so many different card styles that I love; especially ones that are totally different from mine and I would never come up with myself.
I like simplicity and negative space and bright colours. I love when the caption and image to work together to make you laugh and I’m always partial to a pun!
How did you get started in designing cards?
It started really organically with a commission from a friend for a birthday card not long after I’d graduated from uni. At the time, I was doing a bit of freelance work and feeling quite confused about what direction to go in.
I’d actually always dreamed of being a picture book illustrator (and still hope this might happen one day), but I quite like the contrast of the logistical side of running a business which takes up about half of my time now and I don’t think I could just sit and paint all day every day.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Well, animals are my first love and they are the perfect inspiration for cards. There are so many different species of wildlife, shapes, colours that there’s endless potential for designs.
My favourites to paint are the more unusual ones like angler fish and anteaters and I try to create a bit of humour in their expressions and poses. I’ve been lucky enough to go on some amazing adventures in the last few years with a couple more in the pipeline and the animals I meet along the way invariably end up on a card.
Do you still enjoying sending – and receiving – cards?
I love receiving cards, particularly if it’s just out of the blue as it makes you feel thought-about. I do enjoy sending them but feel a self-imposed pressure to make everyone originals.
This is actually quite useful though when Christmas rolls round and all of the cards I make for my family can be added to next year’s Christmas range!
What’s the best card you’ve ever been given and why?
Probably The Little World of Liz’s ‘Carrots’ design, published by Redback Cards, although any of hers will do. They’re so funny and subtle and unique.
If you could send a card to anyone (could be anyone, someone you know, don’t know, past or present) today who would it be and what would you say?
Probably cliché, but Sir David Attenborough. Like for so many others, he’s played a huge role in bringing the animal kingdom alive for me and I must have watched all his documentaries twice, Africa and Planet Earth about nine times! I’d paint him a weedy sea dragon as I’ve heard he likes those.
Louise’s cards are all handmade in England so if you want to send a playful note to the animal lover in your life, she’s got you!
Shop her collection here
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