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Nuts and Bolts: Incorporating Design Trends

August 23, 2012

We’ve talked before about incorporating the latest design trends into your greeting cards.

The things shoppers see when they’re looking at other goods – such as throw pillows, wallpaper, furniture, clothing, business cards, office supplies, stationary, letterpress, websites – schools their eye to a certain “look.” By capturing that “look” in your cards, you make your cards more appealing.

Today, I’ll let you in on three of the hot trends we’re seeing everywhere and give you tips on how to incorporate them into your greeting cards so you can offer cutting edge, fresh, and fashionable designs to your customers.


As design elements, chevrons are smoking hot. I’ve seen them used monochrome (white + one other color) and multi-colored, thick and thin, either standalone (which doesn’t really suit greeting cards) or as a background for other graphics (yes, now we’re talking!)

Caution: Keep in mind that the thicker the chevrons and the more bold you make them, the more difficult it’s going to be to add other design elements to your card. Whatever you slap on top of a very bold chevron background will be drowned unless you’ve taken care to ensure it stands out sufficiently.

Best use? In backgrounds, tone on tone colors seem to work best. Such as a background of lighter violet with the chevron pattern in a slightly darker violet. A subtle statement can be very effective without overwhelming other elements. See the example below.


Oh, my goodness, ribbons are popping up everywhere! Above you’ll see 3 examples of the kind of “ribbons” I’m talking about. Not 3D scrapbooking-style, but either simple flat ribbons, or more elaborate ones, all with writing inside.

Caution: You can pair ribbons with other design elements on a card, but be careful of your composition. There’s a fine line between a well composed design, and a design that looks like three disparate elements were slapped on a background at random. In addition, when the ribbon has a straight area for text, you’ll be fine. However, if the text area curves as in one of the examples above, more care must be taken with lettering to ensure it looks good and not goofy.

Best use? Highlight a single word or phrase you want to emphasize in the ribbon, and put the rest of the text on the card. Play with the composition a little. Experiment to find a placement that’s pleasing to the eye. In the example below, we incorporated the ribbon + a strong design element.


Over the last 15 years or so, most of the “nature” design we’ve seen incorporate lots of swirls and curls. This style is definitely on the way out as an up and coming trend is growing hotter. Sleek, simpler silhouettes of animals, plants, and recognizable flowers (think daisy, for example) are being used to good effect.

Caution: The silhouette doesn’t have to be black – choose a good color depending on your background and other design elements on the card. Just be sure your use of silhouettes makes sense with the overall design. Don’t fall into the trap of using silhouettes all the time, either. Sometimes, a silhouette makes a good card design great. Other times, you need the pop of color or contrast that comes with a colorful plant or flower, or the impact of a more detailed animal.

Best Use? In today’s contemporary, “less is more” designs, a well placed silhouette can speak volumes, especially on busier or brighter backgrounds where more traditionally detailed elements would be lost. In the example below, we created a silhouette of a pine branch with a bird silhouette to go against a watercolor effect sunrise.


So there you have it – three of the hottest new trends in design which look to continue for some time. Have fun incorporating these trends into your own work!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. August 23, 2012 9:11 am

    Very cool info to have. Thank you!

  2. August 23, 2012 12:31 pm

    GREAT article, thank you so much. Really informative and helpful!

  3. Audrey Ascenzo permalink
    August 23, 2012 5:14 pm

    Thank you for this trend update. Very helpful!

  4. August 23, 2012 11:42 pm

    Great Article Indeed … Thank You!

  5. Sharon Fernleaf permalink
    August 24, 2012 2:09 am

    Enjoyed this very much-thanks!

  6. August 26, 2012 2:24 pm

    Invaluable insights, and the writing and illustrations are wonderful.

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