Behind the scenes of Vistaprint's holiday cards
What does it take to make Vistaprint’s annual holiday card collection?
The synopsis: Around nine months, 50 people – including researchers, strategists, trend specialists, designers, art directors, illustrators, and more – thousands of customer samples, and endless curiosity, inspiration, and creativity. We chatted with four of the key players in the making of our holiday card collection...check out their favorite designs and learn more about the creative process.
Remember - this year, your holiday card means more. It's a small way to deliver joy after a challenging year. Our 2020 card collection reflects the good that's come out of the past year: feelings of hope, gratitude, and togetherness (even from afar).
Getting into character: Knowing what customers love
Understanding the lead characters is key to any good story. For the Vistaprint holiday card collection, that means stepping into the customer’s shoes. After each holiday season winds down, our strategy team looks at how customers reacted to last year's collection, what they were searching for, and what they used to design their cards. We look for trends in the photos people upload, like weddings, new babies, or exciting travels - understanding the important life events customers want to share helps us create cards they love.
How do you figure out what our customers are looking for?
Katie Raabe (Manager, Product Design Strategy): We decide which new cards to create by looking at which cards were most popular last season and which new trends are popping up this year. We find inspiration in home décor, stationery, floral design, typography design, and more.
Jen Movitz (Creative Manager, Product Design): We research trends in popular culture, things like home décor and apparel. Then we work with strategy to look at customer data. This process helps us determine what will be popular this holiday season.
Do you get inspiration from friends and family?
Skylar Ridabock (Art Director): I definitely like to ask them for their opinion on my designs to get an outside perspective. My parents are both small business owners as well as Vistaprint customers, so it is helpful to use them as a sounding board.
How does Vistaprint cater to customers around the world?
Cultural awareness is an important part of the design process - this involves listening to feedback, observing how customers use our cards, and being aware of different festive customs (like sending New Year's cards in France!). We have translators from all over the world who can help us understand cultural nuances and cater to all of our customers.
Joanna Alves (Creative Manager, Product Design): By looking at holiday and design trends around the world, we are able to get a good idea of what is popular. We specifically have a strategist based in Europe to analyze what our customers purchase and to obtain customer feedback. We also have Product Designers around the world who provide feedback and their design expertise.
Jen: Many of the trends we identify have a global appeal. For example, this year’s Hope and Joy collection will bring positive messaging to our customers worldwide.
"I absolutely love this color block artsy card by Nick David. The colors and composition with understated text feels fresh and modern, and only subtly 'Christmassy.'"
Setting the stage: Trend spotting
We’re all influenced by the things we see around us. So, to create card designs that delight, it’s important to be aware of what’s on trend.
What is trend research and what does it involve?
Jen: Trend research is taking a deeper look at the aesthetics of popular culture. We pull from a range of resources such as fashion, interior, surface and print design, paying attention to colors and patterns. I find lots of inspiration looking at home décor accents like rugs, pillows and wall art.
What other trends will we see in this year’s holiday card collection?
Skylar: Customers will see a broad range of trends spanning across this year’s card collection. Some of the heavy-hitting trends that you’ll see include greenery, rustic, hope & joy, colorful typography, and intricate winter scenes.
Does Vistaprint introduce new trends? Or is it more about delivering what customers are looking for?
We try to push the design barrier while still giving customers what they want - so, each year we offer traditional cards along with more experimental and trend-forward options.
Katie: Our main priority is to deliver what our customers are looking for. We are constantly exploring new ways to execute these customer favorites. A great example is the rustic trend. Infusing an industrial or bohemian vibe can make the trend feel fresh without a huge departure from the trend itself. We also feel it’s important to showcase some new trends that might not be as popular just yet - customers can find these trends sprinkled throughout our gallery. We feel it’s important to have a wide assortment of styles and trends to fit the needs of our diverse customer base.
"I love this card because of the intricate typographic treatment, textures within the design, and overall classic vintage style of the card. It is really different from any of the other cards the team has designed this year."
Putting pen to paper: Designers get to work
So, the team has gone through months of research and planning, but the story has only just begun. Now it’s time for the card collection to start coming to life.
How do the designers get inspired?
Skylar: A lot of the designers on the team get inspired by looking at work from other fine artists, hand letterers, designers, even children’s book illustrators. I get a lot of inspiration from interior design trends, finishes, patterns, textures, and from being out and about in the world. If I see a pattern I like on a notebook while shopping, I’ll snap a picture of it. I also follow a lot of designers and hand letterers on Instagram that inspire me daily.
How do the designers work?
Skylar: Every designer’s process is unique to them, but many of the designers on our team start their design process by pulling inspiration first, followed by thumbnail sketching to get an idea of how they will approach the layout of their work. Then, they bring their idea to life on the computer using the Adobe Suite. Internal review and critique is an integral part of our design process. Designers are encouraged to show their work to some of the other members of our team to get feedback through every step of the process.
How personal is the design process?
Skylar: The design process is extremely personal to each individual designer. Even though there are certain aspects of the process that everyone has to go through, each member of the team has their own unique approach. Some designers hand draw on paper and scan their work in, others do everything on their iPad or computer, some folks hand letter most of their typography, others primarily use fonts. It’s the variance within each designer’s process that makes for such a diverse holiday card collection.
Jen: I think the creative journey always feels personal. Our designers have a lot of passion for what they do, which makes them great artists. But they also know how to balance that with the customers' needs.
"I love this 'Very Merry' card designed by Jon Decelles. It's such a simple card but the red text makes it a standout design. The casual hand-lettered script and subtle texture give it a handmade feel that I really love."
The big twist: Customers get creative
The best endings are the ones you can’t predict. And an essential part of the design process for Vistaprint holiday cards is making sure customers can finish the story their way, so they can give cards that feel truly unique and personal.
So much thought and creativity goes into each card. How do you leave room for the customer to add their personal touch?
Jen: Customers can upload photos, change colors, and move many of the elements on our cards. These features ensure customers and can add their own personal touch.
Skylar: Ensuring that each of our holiday cards feels personal to our customer is extremely important. We always design with the customer being top of mind. We leave room within the design for the customer to personalize their card but ensuring there are editable text fields on each card, a space for them to upload one or multiple of their own photos, and by providing different color options for the customer to choose from. Also, the addition of embossed gloss and foil accents to our offerings gives the customer another level of personalization to their card.
Joanna: We've learned over the years that customers purchase from Vistaprint in order to make their holiday cards their own. We set up our templates in the most flexible way possible so that they can completely customize. And of course being able to add their own photo is the most important part!
What’s it like seeing what customers do with the designs?
Katie: It’s always so fun to see which color options customers are drawn to and what holiday greetings they choose to add to really make the cards their own. Always exciting to see smiling faces and cute kids as well!
Skylar: I love seeing our cards out in the world! Seeing a customer’s family photos in one of the cards I designed is really rewarding.
Jen: It’s very rewarding to see customers create personal and unique cards with our designs. I love when I spot a Vistaprint design during the holiday months.
Joanna: It’s so gratifying seeing customers add their personal touches to our cards. Using their family photo and greeting to make it their own makes me feel like I played a small part in making their holiday season special.
What’s your favorite part of making the card collection?
Katie: I have two favorite parts! My first favorite part is doing the trend research to see how home décor or floral trends can translate to a paper card. The second is seeing how our team of talented designers interpret certain trends and ideas and turn them into unique, beautiful pieces of art.
Skylar: My favorite part about creating cards for our holiday collection is the ability to design cards for such a broad range of design styles, trends, and types of customers. No two cards in our collection look the same, and it’s really interesting to see how each designer interprets a creative brief differently...and adds their own style to it.
Jen: I love the creative process. Getting inspired for the holidays during the hot summer months is challenging but really fun. Exploring typefaces, colors, and patterns that will bring joy to our customers is very satisfying.
"I love the fact that this card includes greenery, which is a traditional holiday element, but combines it with more modern trends - like watercolor and typography. It feels festive, but not overly traditional."