Job Market Tips

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How do I know what to say in a greeting card?

You're the Host!

When you design a greeting card, your card is actually becoming a "host" or intermediary from one person to another. Your card sends a message for the purchaser. Some of the reasons to send a card are:

Birthdays
Religious Ocassions
Inspirational Reasons
Friendship (support, wish-you-were-here, pleas to pay attention "please write," and thanks)
Formal Thank-Yous
Romantic Love
Sympathy

   
What do I put in my portfolio?

What's In There Now?

If you have a degree in graphic design, that may get you in the door for a job in the field. The most important accreditation you can have is your portfolio. If you want to illustrate medical texts, have a clean and creative portfolio showing your skills with anatomy. If you want that job as project manager, you best have some projects already behind you. Or, at least, have the experience of already working with a team on a project. Applying for project manager requires a portfolio of work as well as a resume of management in the graphic design field.

   
How do I develop a line of greeting cards?

Developing a Line

Most greeting card publishers like to see a line of similar styles they can publish as a package. Pick a style of rendering, such as realistic, whimsical or humorous, and develop a series of ten to twelve cards that you can try to market to publishers. They can be for various ocassions, but often sympathy cards are sold individually. Think birthday, all-ocassion or thank-yous for your series.

   
How do I sell my greeting cards?

Missed a Season?

If you've missed the market for the spring season in greeting cards, don't forget that the other hemisphere is ripe for your finished work. When it's spring up north, it's fall down south. The perfect place for year-round greetings are in the online greeting card markets.

   
How do I frame my work in a greeting card format?

Frame Your Work

There are many styles in the greeting card industry. When you do your research at stores, notice how many cards have their own "frame" or border. Use pattern books from the textile industry to come up with your own creative motifs to frame your artwork in within the card's format.

   
How do I develop greeting cards for the online market?

Online Cards

There's a whole new market of greeting cards that are now available online. Some employ the use of animation or Flash, some are rendered as blank postcards. Take a long look around to see who might be interested in your style, and send them samples as required on their submission forms.

   
How can I simplify my greeting card market?

Your Market

Unless you want to spend a great deal of time figuring out who your market is, and develop the line of greeting cards yourself, you will be dealing with a greeting card publisher. When you sign on with this publisher, the company itself becomes your market. They will tell you what they need, and the format they want the cards illustrated. This will simplifiy your greeting card market research!

   
How do I update my resume?

Active Verbs

The goal is to mention accomplishments and results, not just activities. Avoid phrases such as "participated in," "researched," or "was a team member" as they give no clue to your participation in the final result of a given project. Try using active verbs such as "increased," "built," "finalized," and "exceeded" to get your point across.

   
How do I render a card that is called "charming?"

Charming Style

The "charming" greeting card is mostly for the women's market. Often you will see caricatures of animals rendered realistically in a scene of activity. Motifs include hearts, balloons, flowers and patterns that are found in wallpaper designs in backgrounds and borders. The printing process is often four-color, and the style is more traditional.

   
How do I know my market for greeting cards?

Who sends cards?

When designing a greeting card, remember your market. Women buy and send approximately 90% of all greeting cards. Is this because cards are often too feminine? If you want to design cards for men to buy and send, have a strong selling point for the company who might buy your cards to develop.

   
How do I use animals in greeting cards?

Animals, animals, animals

Drawing animals in realistic, whimsical, humorous or any other style is popular, no matter what the ocassion might be. Keep seasonal and regional content in mind. Kangaroos are not found anywhere but Australia. Certain birds are not found in some parts of the world. You often won't find bears in snow. Unless you're rendering a card that is humorous, keep these tips in mind.

   
How do I find inspiration for greeting card text?

Write Your Own

Often, a greeting card publisher will require you to write your own text. Don't worry - just head to the library and loan some books on quotes and poetry. Don't plagiarize! Just take ideas and make them your own in your own words.

   
How do I chose my colors for the greeting card?

Plan Your Colors

Plan your colors before you begin. If your cards are for a certain season, such as Halloween, your palette is already limited. On other ocassions, such as a birthday, you have unlimited palettes - but - remember that soft pinks will not sell for men, and browns will not be popular with women. Often, a bright and primary color palette will fit both genders in this category of card.

   
How do I know what the ad for work is really saying?

Read Between The Lines

When applying to classified advertising, beware of what the prospect is defining in their terms for employment. When you read a job entry for a desktop publisher, yet you see the skill level to include qualities for a creative director, then you are actually applying for a CD position at a desktop publishing pay scale. Some employers may not realize they are asking too much for too little. Others are trying to get as much as they can for as little as possible. The only way to define this is to apply and try for the interview.

   
How do I design humorous greeting cards?

Humorous Cards

Men will often buy cards that are realistic or humorous. This is a very open card market, and people use these cards for almost all categories except for sympathy or religious reasons. The cards can be rendered as realistic, but more often you see whimsical or simple line drawings that put the text into focus.

   
How do I design cards with little or no text?

Graphic Style

The graphic card is good for any ocassion. Often you will find no text on the front, and the illustration often bleeds on the format. The style is good for pattern work - you might design a line that is similar to tiles. It's also good for simple yet dramatic use of color and contrast. This style is good for "blank" cards.

   
How do I learn to do a country greeting card?

Country Look

This is a popular style with women. The best way to learn this style is to study the artwork of American Primitive artists like Granda Moses. The style is simplistic, and can be printed either in flat or four-color process. This style is popular with many reasons for sending a card, and the market is still strong for this type of rendering.

   
How do I use a whimsical greeting card style?

Whimsical Style

Whimsical cards often use caricatures to represent the focus. The style is less traditional, and these cards are often printed in flat color rather than four-color process. These cards are good styles for birthdays, wishing well and other light-hearted messages. You won't find "whimsical" in the sympathy card market.

   
How do I render type in greeting cards?

Design With Words

Often you will find cards that have an emphasis on words. Is the wording done in a serif or sans serif? Or is it a script? Is it legible? When you design cards for a publisher, you can often use transfer type to stylize the wording. This is a great way to make your final work look very polished.

   
How do I design cards for men?

Designing for Men

Men will often buy cards that are rendered in deep, rich colors - brown is a good choice to start your palette. Use angular edges and hard lines. Sports equipment, cars, outdoors and animals that are on the opposite extreme of teddy bears are good. Remember this is just a generalization for the majority of men's preferences. Many men may not prefer this look at all.

   
How do I illustrate a greeting card?

What's Your Medium?

There are various ways to render greeting cards. Coloured pencil is becoming more acceptable. Cards can also be rendered in watercolor, gouache, inks, pastels, oil pastels, and crayons. Your publisher will have a preference on your medium.

   
What are my chances of employment?

Growth in Industry

Employment of visual artists is expected to grow 21% to 35% for all occupations through the year 2008. This includes the fields of fine arts and graphic arts. You can increase your earnings and potential by constantly observing and practicing new techniques and skills.

   
How do I find out about a prospective employer?

Check 'em Out

If you are in the process of finding a job, check out the web site of the prospective company. If a company's site appears to be amateurish to you, you can bet your peers and colleagues will see this, also. If you are applying for a job as web designer, this will give you a heads-up as to what possibilities you have. If you aren't applying as a web designer, you might ask for the company's printed material, also. If there isn't much difference between print and web in quality, you definitely have your work cut out for you.

   
How do I study greeting card design?

Know The Industry

If your interest is in illustrating and developing lines of greeting cards, then you need to know your industry. Every time you visit a store that sells cards, visit the card rack and study what they've bought. If the store manager isn't busy, they can often answer your questions as to what sells for them and why, and what card purchases might have been a mistake.

   
How do I use a realistic style in greeting cards?

Realistic Style

Rendering a card realistically does not necessarily mean it is "photographic." This style is more traditional, and it often illustrates outdoor scenery, still lifes or other inanimate objects. The card is used for many reasons, and is most appropriate for a market that is serious about its message. This style requires a four-color process to print.

   
How do I know what to avoid illustrating in greeting cards?

Do Not Do This!

The only card that will not sell is one that show an individual's face rendered in a realistic style. People buy cards that reflect their own tastes and styles, modified by the ocassion. There are very few people who will buy a card with someone else's face on it, unless it is a humorous photo card or it is rendered as a caricature.

   
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