Lessons I learnt as a in-house greetings card designer

I breathed out with utter relief, then danced round the room ( which I'm apt to do in times of high emotions) as a mini celebration that Lilla chose my holiday greetings card design in her assessment.  I had given greetings cards a wide berth for a number of years and its only now that I'm able to identify & understand my motives for this. The so called lessons I learnt from several years in the industry have been weighing me down like excess baggage for a long time. 

I was supremely naive & fresh out of uni when I started as a in-house designer for Tigerprint ( before Hallmark), and didn't fully understand the role of account handlers, marketing or production staff. Initially my role was to support for the more experienced designers, mock up products, and make tea. Quite quickly I was able to carve out a niche as icon cutter extraordinaire with fine scalpel handling skills - this was before Macs ruled the roost. 

LESSON 1 Artists are not worthy of celebrating success with.

It transpired that one of the toy/ jigsaw products that I had a small part in had won a major industry competition. There was a celebration in one half of the open plan office but none of the designers involved in illustrating the product were invited to sip champaign. That rather pained me.

LESSON 2 Your creative worth is measured in output.

Some time later the art director who was very vocal with her views, would openly discuss each designers 'productivity' with the other directors. What it boiled down to was how many cards could you produce in the 7 hour allotted budget. ( Incidentally this was the same art director who slated my character attempt in New Skills with Skillshare post March 10th)

LESSON 3 Major clients are more important than the welfare of designers.

The big name clients were becoming more exacting in what the wanted, how and when. Often it was a case of imitating what was already out there, leaving little room for creativity or exploration. It was a pretty miserable studio towards the end, and I left just as my maternity leave set in.

It been over 10 years since these events took place yet it has taken me this long to fully realise the effects of working in a sometimes belittling environment had on me. Just the act of writing it down has lessened the impact and put it all into perspective. Don't get me wrong the other designers I worked with are still some of my best friends and we had some rip roaring times. The best part is looking back and knowing I never want to produce art under those conditions. 'People buy your joy' Lilla will say at every opportunity - I say would never have had the opportunity or confidence to produce my gingerbread house card 10 years ago.