Behind the Scenes: Designing our new collection

Behind the Scenes: Designing our new collection

February 20, 2023

We released our first collection of wedding and anniversary cards this month! I thought it would be fun to share some of the inspiration behind these new designs. 


The Color Pink

Color is often one of the first elements I start with when I’m working on a new collection. I work best with a set of creative restraints, so choosing a limited color palette helps me narrow things down and get the ideas flowing. We used a fluorescent pink ink in the risograph Art for Change posters and postcards we released last fall, and I liked working with it so much I decided to reach out to our ink tech Jim (we have our inks custom mixed by a wonderful company called Kennedy Ink in Cincinnati) to see if he could match it in a letterpress ink. So fun to add a new color, especially when we started layering them using off-prints of older designs to see how it would layer up with our existing Heartell palette.

Seasons of Life

It took me a long time to design wedding cards. I’m working on another post about that, but the reason is that in my experience, weddings are complicated. Yes, they are opportunities for joy and communion, but they also bring into stark relief any loss or pain that is present in a couple’s life at the time of the event. More than anything, I wanted this collection to be nuanced enough to hold both the tremendous love and happiness that is expressed when two people join their lives, but also any sorrow that may also be part of the mix of emotions generated by such a momentous, transitional moment.

The Calendar Garden is about an hour from my home. It’s arranged in a circle, with a brick in the path for every day of the year, and divided into four quadrants, one for each season. I always find inspiration there, and many of the drawings for these cards were based on photos I took there. This photo is the first photo we ever took as a family of four after my youngest son Charlie was born. It reminds me of how lucky I am to be in a marriage that has weathered all the seasons of our lives so far.


Dancing the Hora

My little brother got married in 2011, and earlier that year he was diagnosed with MS. It was amazing to see how my future sister-in-law supported him and forged ahead with their plans despite knowing they may have a tough road to navigate. I remember this day as being full of the powerful joy you feel when someone you love has found someone they love that you know will be there for them when the going gets tough.


Trees Intertwined

Last fall my husband and I attended my cousin’s wedding in Madison, WI. It was the first time I’d seen a lot of my mom’s family since she died, and it was wonderful to reconnect. We went on a hike with my cousin Dave and his partner Kim, someone I’d been hearing about for years but had never actually gotten to meet. It was a beautiful day, and we saw these two trees that had wrapped around each other as they grew.


Adventures Together

My husband Eric and I  were lucky and got to travel a lot before we got married and have children, and this road trip down Highway 101 was one of my favorite trips we took. We got to go on some beautiful hikes in LA and Big Sur. It’s amazing to find someone who loves the same things you do, and I love that my relationship with him has led me to so many beautiful outdoor places.


Saying We Do

Weddings are about the vows that two people make to each other but there is almost always an important part of the ceremony when their community pledges to support them in their marriage. At our wedding celebration (we were actually already married…that’s another story!) with our friends in the community garden we helped create in Brooklyn, we had a part of our ceremony where our friends laid hands on us and it was so powerful to feel all the love and support they were offering us expressed that way.

Another source of inspiration lately has been exploring the white line printmaking tradition (also known as Provincetown Printmaking) developed in New England in the early part of the 20th century. I especially love the work of Mabel Hewit (pictured above). This was an alternative to the Japanese style of woodblock printing where each color has its own block. They would carve the design out in lines, and then use paintbrushes to paint the color onto the sections of the wood in between. They’d have to reapply the paint for each impression so it is more a style of monoprinting, and that is not practical for a wholesale card maker. We still use a separate block for each color, but I used the white line style of composing the image for a few of the new cards. For this We Do design, I liked how the slight wiggle you get when you register two colors together created kind of a glowy effect in the white lines, almost like you could see the love passing through the hands of the guests into the bodies and hearts of the people getting married.


Beauty in the Off-Season 

Another place I often get inspired is at our family’s cottage on Syracuse lake. I spent some time there in the fall, and I loved seeing how much beauty there was in the garden even though the plants had gone dormant. We are releasing nine new art prints with this collection, and this one was based on drawings and photos from the lake.

I hope this has been fun, thank you for reading! You can find all our new designs here.

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