What is the best gift you’ve ever gotten? Think for a moment… Bring up the gift in your mind. What was it, who gave it to you, how did it make you feel? It gives you a nice warm fuzzy feeling, doesn’t it?
I’m going to take a wild guess… It probably wasn’t the latest electronic gadget or a kitchen appliance. It was probably something special, something where the giver thought about you in the choosing. Maybe it was something they had made.
I must admit, I’m partial to the handmade gift. I don’t get excited about the whole holiday shopping thing, but I love to give gifts, especially of my art. The problem is… It’s hard to give art as a gift. Choosing art for the walls of your home or office is a very personal thing. So if you give your art to someone, you risk that it may sit gathering dust in a drawer or closet, never to be used.
Over time I’ve learned that there is a great way to gift art that can work for everyone: Greeting cards.
Each year, for holiday gifts I create greeting card packs with new art pieces I’ve created in the last year. This way, I get to share my art in a format that everyone can use. The cards are blank inside and they can be used for any purpose, just write your own greeting and voila! You have a birthday card or a thank you card or whatever kind of card you choose. They are nicely packaged and can be re-gifted, if desired. I make different size packs, from three to six cards in a pack, and give these packs to coworkers, friends, and family. They have become quite the popular gift, with people letting me know how much they look forward to them!
Today, I’m going to share the ins and outs of creating your own greeting cards. I’m sharing all of the details from the card stock I use to the packaging I put them in. What I would like to encourage is less shopping and more creating this holiday season, because creating connections through art is one of the best gifts you can give.
Step One – The Paper
Finding a good greeting card paper is not easy. You want a paper that will give a nice-looking print, with good color and detail. You also want a paper stock that is enjoyable to write on, since it’s blank and the user will need to write in a greeting. You might also want the card stock pre-cut and pre-scored, so there aren’t a lot of extra steps to turn the paper into the card after printing.
I wanted all of these things, and after a lot of searching, I found Red River Paper inkjet greeting card stock. I first ordered the Sample Kit to test out the different paper stocks they offered, and then settled on the 60lb Polar Matte cardstock. This paper gives very nice detail and color and has a smooth finish which is lovely to write on. It is also pre-cut and pre-scored, which makes it super easy to create your own cards.
I buy the 7×10″ size which folds into a 5×7″ (A7) card.
Step Two – The Print
I do all of my printing through Lightroom, and if you do too, I’ll make things easy by providing a few templates for greeting cards. I’m not going to get into the details of getting a good fine art print, because that goes beyond this simple tutorial. (If you want to learn how to make a good fine art print using Lightroom or Photoshop, I recommend the eBook Making the Print by Martin Bailey.)
I’ve created three templates for the 7×10″ greeting card stock from Red River which you can download for import into Lightroom. These templates have a photo on one side and your name or website on the back. You will need to choose the correct template to ensure your image is oriented such that the card will open correctly. Download the templates here:
Square – Use for square photos
Horizontal – Use for rectangular photos in Landscape orientation
Vertical – Use for rectangular photos in Portrait orientation
To use these templates, first go into the Print Module, then right click on the template browser to create a new folder for your templates and then to import a template. Once your template is imported, click on it to select. You should see your chosen photo loaded into the template. Before printing, you will need to change the nameplate which current reads “Your Information Here.” Type in the information you would like to print on the back of the card. This would typically include your name or website address.
If you are using the square template, you need to have the bottom of the image facing toward the right side on the screen, as shown above. Unfortunately, the image will not auto-rotate to the correct orientation with a square format, so you will need to manually rotate the image before you print. Go into the Library Module and then rotate your image 90 degrees right before printing.
Before printing, check on your Print Job settings (right side menu) to ensure you have the correct printer settings and ICC profile loaded. You can get the printer settings and profile information on the 60lb Polar Matte stock from Red River here.
When you first use these templates, I recommend you run several test prints to ensure the color settings and orientation are correct. There is nothing worse than printing multiple cards that open the wrong way! Once you confirm everything is working correctly, you can print to your heart’s content.
Step Three – The Package
After the cards are ready, I add matching envelopes and then package as a gift. I’m all about simplicity, so for my gift packages, I use a simple clear bag or box with a stretch loop around it. The stretch loop gives it a nice gift-y feeling and can also hold a personalized holiday tag or note. Here is an example of a finished gift bag with three card/envelope sets inside:
I buy all of the packaging materials, including envelopes, from ClearBags. You can buy matching envelopes from Red River Paper, but I’ve found the ClearBags envelopes are also nice and are a bit cheaper when you buy in bulk. Here are the links:
Envelopes – White A7 size
Stretch Loops – The 10″ size works well for the A7 card bags and boxes below
Clear Boxes – You can easily fit 5-6 card/envelope sets in a box
Clear Bags – You can fit up to 3 card/envelope sets in a bag
I hope this tutorial helps you create some gifts with your art this year. Not only are greeting cards a great way to share your art, they also lead to meaningful connections between others as they are used. It’s one of the few gifts that truly keeps on giving.