Expand your holiday business: Halloween Ideas

We know that weddings and Christmas are the biggest sales in stationery but Halloween is a growing opportunity. In 2014 almost 68% of Americans participated in Halloween fun and they spent $7.4 billion. Billion. With a “B”. Why not direct some of that spending your way?Halloween

Kids parties and treat bag decorating is a big hit at my kids’ school. If you have a wholesale account on stationeryhq.com you could get 12 stickers for just $1.44. You could get sets of 12 that are personalized or do a much bigger order and pay even less per sheet. These retail for around $5 for a set of 12. And placemats start at 4.25 each and retail for about $10.halloweeninvites

And adding invitations to your arsenal is a slam dunk. 5 x 7″ flat cards retail for $50 – $60 for a set of 25. These can be ordered here for $12.75 WITH rounded corners and blank envelopes. Just think what you could do with wraparound address labels, envelope liners and coasters!

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From a blank canvas to a fabulous welcome wall

The dust is almost settled at our new location. We just moved across town but dismantling presses and 40,000 square feet of machines, supplies and people is no small feat. When the guys found our new location, they said, “It’s a total craphole and it might be haunted, do you want to see it?” All I saw was potential and a place to show off our expertise and our customers’ talent. BTW, it’s not haunted, the boys are just a little easily spooked.

This is the 80s Fab entry before we worked our magic. I’ll do another post so you can see all of the building’s former glory and how we’ve upgraded to a super fun, colorful workspace. Soon as the last of the boxes go away.

Formerly Fugly, but with potential...

Formerly Fugly, but with potential…

And this is what happened when I threw out an invitation to a bunch of creatives. I asked if anyone wanted to work their magic on a canvas, no rules (almost) just whatever inspires them. I got even more enthusiasm than I hoped for but I shouldn’t be surprised because we designers are our own breed. We NEED to create. It’s even better when we get paid for it, but most of us are designing all the time, whether we’re on the clock or not. And we love a challenge, particularly without lots of rules 🙂

Can you think of a better way to welcome visitors?

Can you think of a better way to welcome visitors?

I LOVE the messages on both of these. Happy day was designed by Laura Thacker from Carolina Quill.    Quit Slackin’ came from the talented and witty Julie Wylie at Whimsy & Wild.IMG_2285

I want this trailer. Thank you to Kim Arnold of Barefoot Studios for this gem.IMG_2286

This gorgeous water color features a message that is close to my heart, thank you for the reminder Laura at And Everything Nice. And my coffee soulmate, Amy Sturn of Springlake Statonery illustrated this heartfelt message to caffeine-addicts everywhere…IMG_2288

A whole different take on water color came with this zen Welcome canvas, thank you to Lauren Crawford from Crawfitz Designs.

Another inspiring message combined with great type and a fabulous flamingo came from Krista Mullis at Pluma Paper.

Canvas3

This juicy persimmon colored canvas with a great business message comes from Adrien Frayle at MarieDesign.com

The happy floral comes from my very talented partner in crime in my other designer life, Ilene Guy at Simon+Kabuki.

And I LOVE this take on a map by Kim Harrington at greylein.etsy.com. Makes me want to go somewhere…

IMG_2283

And the last to be mentioned but first to arrive was this fantastic typography with key industry words by Becky Florence of Pineapple Princess Design Company. She sent it within a day or two and kicked off what turned out to be the most fun design collaboration ever! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me decorate our new digs and especially for confirming what I know about designers: We Rock.

Making modern watercolour effects: a guest artist post

Over the last few years I have had to adapt to the modern way of designing, having been taught the Adobe Creative Suite by my daughter in order to keep up with the times. I now mix Illustrator and Photoshop work together to create my unique range of cards, which I sell online at Decorque Cards, and I quite often delve into my archive to scan or photograph old work to use in new designs.

I am a fine artist and textile designer by trade, having worked all my life using watercolour paints. I don’t think you can beat the feeling of the paintbrush on paper and the amazing effects you can achieve with this versatile media. What I do love to see is some of these artistic methods, making their way into the stationery and greetings card world.

A trend for the 2015 Spring Summer season is Watercolour Painted effects mixed with simple typography to create cards. The Stationery Trends Magazine website has highlighted this as a Fresh Pick for the season entitled Painterly Elements. By scanning in and digitally printing designs on beautiful paper such as Savoy Cotton or Felt paper, you can still achieve texture and subtlety of the paint and modernise with bold and simple typography overlaid on top. All using a CMYK printing process.Painterly-elements-designs

The idea of mixing watercolour techniques with wedding stationery became popular last year, with a lot of blogs such as The Promise featuring it as a hot trend. It appears that with a lot of graphic and more simple designs appearing, people want to hark back to more traditional and unique methods. Bespoke designers such as Gemma Milly, and businesses such as Paper Bark and Arbee Cards are all offering watercolour wedding stationery as an option, to then be personalised for a couple’s big day. Their designs are a lot more decorative and floral, catering perfectly to the wedding market. They use delicate colour palettes that work across the broad range of elements required.

Watercolour-Stationery

The joy of watercolour painting can come from it’s simplicity and opportunity to layer colour in a vibrant way too. What I like about the designs that Matrick and Eve create are that they are not using a watercolour painted, cliché scene, or something that they have designed specifically in mind to take typography. They are using a design purely as a colourful, decorative background in order to allow and take a large, simple typography message.

They are also using colour in a bold way. That is what makes their designs cool and modern and not too pretty and feminine. It also makes them versatile, working not only on notebooks, but also gift tags and wine bottle tags (to name but a few). These designs particularly appeal to me, so I thought why not dig out some of my old textile watercolour designs and give this concept a go myself?

Matrick-and-Eve-designs

Below are a collection of my watercolour designs, au naturel, straight from the archives. As you can see my style mixes the floral and decorative with the bold and colourful, so I’m a real mix of some of the designs I’ve showcased above!

Lesley_original_designs

To create my first two cards, I’ve scanned in a couple of the more traditional types of florals and created two options. They are similar to that of the wedding stationery, and some of the designs I’ve seen on the Ivy and Ellen website. They are more classic, using swirly fonts and have a feminine look to them in tone and style.

Lesley_Ivy_and_Ellen_designs

In contrast to that, I’ve created a more contemporary collection by turning one design into a set of cards, by altering the hues in Photoshop, layering on an of-the-moment modern typeface in Indesign and picking a design that is more abstract. These cards are made striking by the vivid colours, graphic font, white border and black envelopes. In my opinion they would not look out of place alongside some more quirky and graphic cards on sites such as Oh Deer or Society 6.

Lesley_watercolour_cards

This method has not only brought life to old designs, but has given them a new purpose. They have gone from textile designs to card designs. I’m thinking of including these in my collection, and maybe embellishing a few of the more traditional ones with gems and maybe some delicate silver paint. I like the idea of painting back on top of the original watercolour design…..ooh I can feel another experiment coming on!

About:

Written by: Lesley Stevens – owner of Decorque Cards. I design and sell a selection of handmade and digitally printed cards and tags online, all made in the UK. My passion for design, pattern and colour stems directly from my love of nature; whether drawn, hand-painted, photographed or drawn in Illustrator, when brought together in Photoshop, my design comes alive and even more so when printed.

WTH is navy blue and why does it look purple?

What you see on screen can vary from the final printed product and this is often true when working with the color navy blue. It looks like the perfect blue on your monitor, but when you get your cards back, first you see purple and then you see red! Your monitor uses the RGB color model (red/blue/green) which differs from the CMYK (cyan/magenta/yellow/black) ink colors used in print, making navy a thorn in your side.

navy2a

The issue is caused by the amounts of cyan and magenta in the mix. Remember learning about the color wheel in school? You learned that when you mix blue with red, you get purple, right? It’s the same idea with 4 colors, too. Too much magenta mixed with cyan will leave you with purple, when you really wanted a dark blue. The color might look right on screen, but it will most likely print more purple than blue. Paper can also affect the way a color prints, but that’s a whole different story.

navy2b

A good mix for navy blue can vary a bit. 100C/85M/0Y/50K will give you a darker navy blue. You can always adjust the black (K) if it seems too dark. 100C/85M/0Y/30K will produce a lighter navy and even though it looks deceptively close to 100C/95M/0Y/0K on screen, don’t let your eyes fool you. Of course, there’s no absolute perfect mix, but these are good bets. Give one of them a shot next time you’re prepping files to upload to StationeryHQ!

The magical world of flat foil

11x14Since launching Flat Foil Art Prints last week, we keep hearing the same question, “How does it work?”

When SHQ Customer Success Representative Chris was asked this question yesterday, he replied, “It’s magic!” He’s right. It’s so easy, it practically is magic.

Here’s what you do:
1. Create your design using one color only. Your swatch needs to be 40C/40M/20Y/100K.
2. Save as PDF/X-1a, per the StationeryHQ File Setup Guidelines.
3. Upload your file and wait for the magic to happen.

Here’s how it works:
The rich black ink is printed on paper, then the printed sheet is run through a foil machine. The foil adheres to the ink and viola, flat foil fabulousness! You get the same shine as traditional foil stamping but not the slight depression you can feel on a foil stamped card.

And the best part? No die is required. That means faster production time and lower cost. And you can upload your files the same way you do for our other non-custom products.

The small type on this card is 7pt. ITC Lubalin Graph - looks great in foil

The small type on this 5″ x 7″ card is 7pt. ITC Lubalin Graph – looks great in foil

Large solids actually work really well and small type works too. I tested a .75 pt. stroke and the foil came out beautifully.

We’re calling them art prints but since they come in sets of 10, I’m using them as flat cards and 8″ x 10″ notebook covers. Yes, my friends are the types who prefer a bit of snark and a well-designed cuss word in their birthday/thank you cards 🙂

Foil makes a sassy notebook at a great price.

Foil makes a sassy notebook at a great price.

 

We are testing options for foil combined with digital color. We already know that it can be done but so far the results are inconsistent. Stay tuned for more options if flat foil sells as well as we are predicting!

I feel the need – the need for a bleed

You’ve designed a fabulous card and now you want StationeryHQ to print it! You saved a PDF/X-1a, just like the SHQ File Setup Guidelines say, but your file doesn’t fit the preview area. What happened? It could be that you didn’t account for bleed in the file.

Bleed is essential in print so the image goes all the way to the edge of the card. Without bleed, you’ll get white strips around the design that aren’t meant to be there. Even if your card has a white background, it can still be cut the wrong size if a bleed is not included.

There are two ways to add bleed to your file. This example uses Adobe Illustrator, but this process is universal with Adobe software.

Method 1: Add bleed to file by calling out a “Bleed”

The screen shot below shows how to set up your file from scratch using this method. When creating a new document, plug in the size of the final card size (we used 5 x 7) and then call out the bleed below. SHQ requires a .25 bleed to both width and height, so you’d add .125 on all four sides for a total of .25 to both dimensions.

bleed1

 

The screen shot below shows how the file you just created should look. The artboard is 5 x 7 and has a .125 bleed all the way around. Your design should go all the way to the red line around the 5 x 7 to cover the bleed area.

bleed1a

Then when you go to save your fab design, make sure to check the box “Use Document Bleed Settings” in the pop-up window.

bleed1b

 

Method 2: Add bleed to file by including bleed in the size of your artboard

The screen shot below shows how to set up your file from scratch using this method. When creating a new document, plug in the size of the final card size including .25 for bleed. We made a 5 x 7 card, so the dimensions would be 5.25 x 7.25. Leave the Bleed section alone because the bleed will be added in to the size of your art board.

bleed2

The screen shot below shows how the file you just created should look. The art board is 5.25 x 7.25. Your design should go all the way to the edge of the art board to cover the bleed area.

bleed2a

Then when you go to save your fab design, do not check the box “Use Document Bleed Settings” in the pop-up window. You’ve already added the bleed to your final size, so you’re good to go.

bleed2b

 

And for good measure, don’t forget to outline fonts, change all Pantone colors to CMYK and save as a PDF/X-1a.

Now when you upload your 5 x 7 card to the website, it should fit perfectly into the preview!

Printing and Pancakes

Here’s the 411: Printing is flat like a pancake. If your pancake isn’t flat, it won’t cook right. The same goes for printing! To ensure your file prints correctly, you gotta turn it into a pancake by flattening any transparencies it may have. Transparent objects cause problems in digital printing, so it’s best to get rid of ’em before you even start.

Here’s what you do:
1. Open file in Adobe Illustrator
2. Select all (of the design)
3. Go to top menu bar and choose Objects, then scroll down to Flatten Transparency
4. A new window pops up. Choose High Resolution and click Ok to save

BOOM, pancake city!

Something to remember:
The artwork may be grouped together or may have clipping masks. If it’s all stuck together like a stack of old pancakes, you’ll need to ungroup them or release the clipping mask(s) to flatten it. There may be more than one clipping mask, so you may need to do this more than once.

You can also release clipping masks by:
* PC: right click > Release Clipping Mask
* Mac: select option+click >Release Clipping Mask

Here are a few screen shots of where to find the steps in the menu bar:

Select All:

selectall

Release Clipping Mask:

clipmask2

Flatten Transparency:

flattrans

Window that comes up to Flatten Transparency:

flatwindow

And you can always refer to the StationeryHQ File Setup Guidelines to see the rest of the important deets!

Shipping Cost Changes

Shipping NoticeHi Folks,

Just wanted to give you a little warning that some of the items you may order might have a slightly higher price tag for shipping. We don’t try to make money on shipping, but with our low wholesale prices we can’t afford to lose money on it. The first product that will be affected is binders. The weight that’s been calculated in the past does not account for any packing materials and we’re pretty sure we all want your beautiful products to arrive in one piece.

Sorry we can’t give you a specific number, it will vary depending on the item, quantity, and shipping address. It could be anywhere from 5% – 25%. We apologize for the inconvenience and hope you’ll forgive us cuz we really hate to disappoint you. -The SHQ Gang

Guest Post from a Kick Ass Designer

Hello, I’m Melinda Hartz McElroy, founder and creative director of billet-doux. I’ve been dreaming up couture stationery, invitations and wedding suites since 2005. I love telling personal stories through something tangible, tactile and visually stimulating. But, as I was realizing visions for couture clients, I started to wonder, “How do you stay relevant in the broader marketplace?”

So, I decided to do something completely radical – launch my first ready-to-order wedding collection. What a novel idea! Having previously only collaborated with clients on a custom project basis, I threw caution to the wind and designed suites for imaginary brides and grooms. I immersed myself in fresh and current wedding trends and created a comprehensive collection across a variety of style categories.

It’s easy to get caught up in each and every delightful trend happening in our industry right now, but I kept focused with my targeted list of on-trend must-haves. Mixed typography, handwritten fonts, hombre color effect, monograms, polka dots, lace, floral patterns, and rustic and rhinestone details are among them. But, what are my top obsessions these days? [queue music]

brooklyn detail_website

1) All Things Whimsy

Whimsical elements will forever be at the tippy top of my list. At the core of who I am as a person and a designer, I love the element of surprise and the unexpected. The Brooklyn suite is a sharp detour from my typical design aesthetic; yet, it’s ironically my favorite of the collection. Brooklyn is modern yet whimsical, and perfect for the bride throwing an untraditional, offbeat wedding. [I heart that girl!]

Brooklyn Wedding Suite – billet-doux Spring 2015 Bridal Collection  Printed by StationeryHQ

Brooklyn Wedding Suite – billet-doux Spring 2015 Bridal Collection
Printed by StationeryHQ 

2) Glam/Art Deco/Metallic

So, I squeezed three trends in one, but let’s face it – they all go together like peanut butter and jelly. Dare to kick up the glam by adding to something that’s already glamorous in its own right (that’s you, gorgeous bracket die-cut pocket enclosure!)? Selecting a rich metallic color palette and pairing it with mixed typography (another design mainstay) in simple colors creates an added layer of formality. But it’s the gorgeous glam rhinestone embellishment that transports guests of this Gatsby suite back to the Art Deco era.

gatsby details_website

Gatsby Wedding Suite – billet-doux Spring 2015 Bridal Collection Printed by StationeryHQ

gatsby collection_website

3) Dreamy Paper

I find leveraging beautiful paper to be an uber refreshing design tactic. I mean, why reinvent the wheel with every card? Let thoughtful typography or custom monograms punctuate a suite, and rely on fine papers and gorgeous prints to take the lead in setting the tone. Together or on its own, printing on dreamy double thick paper can easily add a lot of impact and take your design to a whole other level. (Thank you, StationeryHQ!)

Petal Wedding Suite – billet-doux Spring 2015 Bridal Collection Printed by StationeryHQ

Juliet Wedding Suite – billet-doux Spring 2015 Bridal Collection Printed by StationeryHQ on double thick card stock; Rifle Paper Co. floral bellyband

petal collection_website

Petal Wedding Suite – billet-doux Spring 2015 Bridal Collection Printed by StationeryHQ

Enjoy my portfolio and billet-doux’s complete 2015 Spring collection at www.couturestationery.com. Keep in touch on Facebook at www.facebook.com/billetdouxinvitations or at melinda@couturestationery.com.

melinda headhsotAbout Melinda McElroy

Melinda Hartz McElroy is founder and creative director of billet-doux. From fêtes to gratitude, billet-doux has been spicing up mailboxes with one-of-a-kind cards since 2005. Melinda is the former National Marketing Director of a multinational billion-dollar accounting and consulting firm. Melinda oversaw marketing and advertising campaigns for 42 offices across the United States.

By pairing clients’ individual style with billet-doux’s unique brand of creativity, Melinda dreams up pieces that even make wallflowers bloom. Whether creating something couture from scratch or selecting from readymade collections, all items are fully customizable without limitations. billet-doux’s service offerings include wedding suites, social and business stationery, party and corporate event invitations, event details, baby announcements and holiday cards.

CMYK – The More You Know

Around these parts, we like four colors. Not three and certainly not one. EW. Stationery HQ files should be set up with CMYK, not RGB or Pantone/PMS colors.

To make it easy, we made a visual guide to show you where to convert colors using three different Adobe programs.

InDesign:

color_ID

Illustrator:

color_AI

Photoshop:

color_PS

When in doubt about how to set up your files, please check out our File Setup Guidelines.

 Note: We’re using the Adobe Creative Cloud version of these programs, so they might look slightly different than yours.