I love a good challenge and always have! This one came to mind one morning in January when Bob and I were having our coffee and working on our Goals for 2021. Every January, we make a list of intentions that we hope to accomplish here at El's Cards for the coming year. When I was just starting El's Cards, I started this practice. Back then, the goals were different. I remember when I was waitressing and El's Cards was just a side gig, in the first couple of years of business. My goal was to be running El's Cards full time by 2002. I had written it down in a little notebook and put it in a drawer. At the end of 2002, I found that list of goals-not even remembering I had written it. By that time, I had gone full time with El's Cards. Things did change for a few years after I met Bob and moved to New Hampshire, when I went to work at JetBlue as a flight attendant. I would crack up my crewmembers on trips when I brought my paints and different projects with me to do on layovers. (That's a totally different blog post!-so many adventures and stories)
From 1999-2005, all of my cards were individually painted by hand. The designs were very simple-flowers, starfish, shells, with more of an emphasis on calligraphy. Even the wedding invitations were painted by hand! A simple hydrangea at the top, snowflakes, and flowers and fruit were popular designs. (Sidebar: have you seen our 20 year video? It talks about the early days of El's Cards and how things were when I was just starting out! Check it out if you haven't seen it yet)
Then in 2006, I found a high quality printer that could be used to print cards. This changed everything! Even though our cards are now printed, every design is painted by hand with paints and a brush-the old fashioned way. We don't use any digitally created art. If I make a mistake, there is no delete key. I start over again!
So, back to the goals. We are so excited about all the new items we added to our line in 2020 and have plans for expanding those all this year too. But we are finding that people are really keeping in touch via the mail more than ever these days. So it made sense to grow our card line. Hence, the 10 card a month challenge began-with the ultimate goal being 100 new greeting cards for 2021. So for January-October, my plan was to create 10 new cards a month! We decided October would be the last month so as not to overlap with our busy holiday season in November and December.
As I got going on this goal, I have really been getting into it! And as some of you may know about me, I like to be a bit of an overachiever. So here we are at the beginning of March, and we already have over 37 new cards added to the website. For mid-winter during a pandemic, I'm incredibly inspired and hopeful. I have mentioned this before, but when I was a few years into running my business, I had this moment of fear-what if I run out of ideas? But my experience has been just the opposite. Each idea that springs forth, brings another idea right behind it. More ideas than time is my problem these days.
Another of my goals for the year ties into this fun challenge. I love expanding our offerings and create my own fonts from my different calligraphy and writing styles. There is a new font style I have been picturing in my mind for awhile now. It reminds me of some of the special hand lettering I did much earlier in life! It's clean and easy to read. I'm calling it Amanda, named after a wonderful friend! You can see it showing up on several of our new card designs already. I have a couple more new font ideas that I hope I will have time to create this year....but like I mentioned-so many ideas, so little time.
Amanda font on some of our new cards. Left to right- Dahlia Get Well Card, Attitude of Gratitude Recovery Card, and Pooh Honey Pot Card
As the winter progresses, I can't help but think about spring coming right around the corner. Flowers are my favorite, and there are plenty of flower designs in our new cards I have added. Our new spring/Easter additions were really a delight to create. The colors of spring are so bright and cheerful. We lost power on the day I was painting the last few Easter designs-winter in New England!
I thought it would be fun to show you some "befores" (in painting form) and "afters"! Mixing just the right colors, brush size, and keeping things harmonious are all important to each design. I like to keep things true to the original painting without doctoring things in Photoshop. You can see that done in these photos!
This new Easter Basket card is one of my favorites!
This crocus painting was perfect for a First sign of Spring card.
Our little El's Cards team is off to a great start for 2021. Bob is busy organizing his workspace and making it more efficient. I continue to be impressed by Bob's vision and methods of organization. His workshop runs like a well oiled machine. He is laying out an invitation suite to print tomorrow for a wedding later this spring. It feels good to be working on weddings!
My studio space is a little different than Bob's I know where everything is...but it's a bit more chaotic. Lots of tubes of paint, kitten toys, jars of ink, and random notes, sketches, and scraps of paper cover most surfaces. But it's colorful and cheerful. I love all the creative time I have taken already in 2021. Typically, I'm spending a lot of time on weddings at this time of year. We are excited for our wedding season, but it was really time to expand our other lines of products too!
And everyone loves a little behind the scenes...so here are some Kitten Bloopers. Setting up pretty photos can be challenging with kittens.
Hope you are staying safe and well! If there are any card categories that you would like to see increased, please shoot me an email. I would love to hear from you! Can't promise I will be able to take every suggestion, but will certainly do my best. Here's a link to all the new cards so far!
Thanks for reading and have a great day,