cards

Embracing Our Inner Chic
August 7th, 2012
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When we first starting talking about what we wanted our cards to be, a word that came up often was chic. But, for some reason, we were reluctant to go right out and say it.

Maybe it was memories of watching focus groups stumble over the word: on magazine covers, “cute”, “pretty”, and “hot” appealed, while “chic” did not. Particulary when it was often pronounced as — truth, readers, truth — “chick”.

Or perhaps we were swayed by British fashion designer Sir Hardy Amies’ famous pronouncement: “There’s something cold and rather cruel about chic.” So instead we talked up color (which we love), modern (which we are) and graphic (ditto). And kept chic to ourselves.

No longer! Since we can’t afford focus groups anyway, and also feel poor Hardy might have been embittered by his long years as the Queen’s dressmaker, we have decided to shout chic loud and proud.

So here it is, our new tagline (see our new landing page, below). After all, given the choice, who wouldn’t want to send something chic?

Dot Mania from Marc Jacobs — and from us, too!
July 18th, 2012

Fashion can be a fickle thing to predict, but generally you can be sure that wherever Marc Jacobs leads Louis Vuitton — the giant fashion house that he designs — legions of fashionistas are sure to follow. Check out the new windows at the LV flagship in New York (above), and get ready for a summer of spots.

Polka dots have long been a favored motif in Jacobs’ fashion collections, so it was only a matter of time before he hit upon a collaboration with the dotty queen of spots herself, Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama (above, arriving at the launch party in New York last week). Learn a bit more about her, here.

This summer, her arresting, lady-bug patterns will be found on everything Vuitton from shoes to skirts to bags to sunglasses (that’s actually a waxwork of her in one of the windows, above, with a bag from the new collection).

To cap it off, Jacobs is putting out a new perfume of his own this month, called – what else – “Dot” (see the bottle, above).

But enough about MJ and LV, how about JF? Well, we’re in the spot game, too. We’ve always loved the cheerful, graphic appeal of dots, and as we drew and doodled for inspiration earlier this summer (see our original idea sketch, above), a whimsical spot-saying leaped to mind — and became a card.

So there you have it. “You knock the spots off everyone else” — our new anniversary card just happens to be on-trend. And we’re hoping to create more spotted cards soon. After all, as Marc Jacobs once sagely opined, “I don’t think there is ever a wrong time for a polka dot.”

Nautical Summer Dreaming
July 2nd, 2012

As July 4th races towards us, and temperatures edge past 100 degrees across the country, our minds inevitably turn to thoughts of the sea. After all, is there anything that better sweetens a summer than being at the beach?

So it’s no surprise that one of our most popular boards on Pinterest (yes, we’re addicted — check out all our boards at JFalkner Inspire) was our collection of Nautical Themes.

Many of these images (a selection, above) coalesced into cards: anchors, lifesavers, a red-striped bikini, the crisp color combo on a J.Crew bag … and everywhere a rich cyan blue, deep as the sea.

We’re delighted to introduce our new “Nautical & Nice” collection: a boldly colored thank you (above left), a birthday card full of summer spirit (above right) and a devoted pair of fish for an anniversary (below). Blue, white and a punch of red were the only colors we needed.

For this collection, we also spoiled ourselves with a new font. Sitting on the charming side of whimsy, the ropey ligatures of Memimas are also a wink at the nautical theme of these cards.

(And here’s a did-you-know for font fans: Memimas, now a darling of indie fashion labels and invitation designers, was originally created as the standard typeface to teach French school children proper handwriting. Amusant, non?)

Of course, not all nautical is created equal, so for these illustrations we went to our chicest source: London-based fashion illustrator Adrian Valencia (see his delightful portfolio here). In fact, we were so charmed by his work, we couldn’t resist going one step further with this collection and creating a little trio of Nautical Notes (above), with wavy-edged frames and light sea-blue envelopes.

If only we didn’t need to save the stock for our stores (it’s already one of our most popular new releases), this is the stationery we would use all summer long. Order a set for yourself, or any of these nautical cards, here.

A Day for Dad
June 14th, 2012

If, on a father’s day card, you’d like a pattern of neckties, a medal proclaiming “No. 1 Dad”, or perhaps a BBQ grill, you’re all set. On the other hand, if you think some of those ironic motifs are maybe a little played out, you’ll have found yourself in a greeting card emergency this week.

Charming Mother’s Day options abound, but somehow Father’s Day seems to leave cards tongue-tied. Call us old-fashioned, but with one day a year to celebrate fathers, why not send something genuine?

No matter how tall we grow, we know that fathers always remain large in our lives (above).

Are we the only ones to remember that first thrill of riding a bike on our own? With dad’s last, strong push, we took flight. Visually, we like how these two bikes seem to be cycling across the whole card (see above). And — spoiler alert, Dad! — this is the card we sent our father.

Because, let’s face it: one thing you can’t choose is your family. It’s all about luck.

These cards were created just this week for our staff, and will go into production for everyone next year. But, meanwhile, feel free to take a screen grab, or share this link – there’s still time to email your dad!

Lights, Paper, Action … Stationery Show!
May 28th, 2012

Once a year, in May, the stationery world converges on the Javits Convention Centre in New York to celebrate (and hopefully sell!) all things paper. And so naturally there we were last week, happy as a clam in our own cheery little J. Falkner booth (above).

We decided to let the colors of our cards do the talking and go crisp white with all our fixtures. It made a bright sunny statement, and more than one passerby told us, “It feels like Florida in here”.

The first night of the show brought the Louie Awards ceremony, the pre-eminent prizes for cards in this country. Though we didn’t get our podium moment, we were delighted to have two cards among the finalists — terrific recognition in our company’s first year.

There was a beautifully designed catalogue of the finalists, and there we were with our “Amazed Anniversary” card (above), one of the first cards we ever designed — and still a personal favorite.

The show also brought us some great press. This shout-out (above) appeared in the daily show magazine.

There was much ingenuity among the design of the other booths, but to us, Crane & Co always delivers the most elegant one. Evoking a Madison St boutique, it’s a purring piece of luxury, with a trio of chandeliers, cream carpeting and exquisitely detailed window displays.

As regular readers know, we’re mad for moodboards, so we were smitten by the charming visual vignettes from the Crane windows (a couple are featured above). The richly engraved salamander, with its red spotted coat (see detail, above), is a card we’d chose to send ourselves — if only we weren’t already stationery-committed.

With nearly 800 stationery companies at the show, each aisle brings a spirited range of creative delights. In our little block alone, we were able to put together this great card collection (above).

Clockwise, rom top left: A lovely silhouette of a bear from Banquet. A cool surfer’s desktop from Dear Hancock. A simple shell, letterpressed by Double Bravo Designs. Two bears make a charming father’s day card, from Fugu Fugu Press. A charming notebook, the cover made of birchwood, from Night Owl Paper Goods. And an imaginative use of the subway map, from Tastement.

We ourselves had a terrific response to the new collections we launched at the show, and we’ll be sharing those with you in our next few posts.

A Trio of Cards Takes Flight from the Runway
May 8th, 2012

We love following trends. What’s better than discovering the new?

Jewel tones, like purple and teal from Gucci (above, left), and flirtatious bird patterns, like those from Carolina Herrera (above, right), dominated fashion runways the last couple of seasons — and made us wonder how we could bring this luxury and whimsy to a range of cards.

First, we explored different paper options. We found a premium opalescent paper stock that gives flat color a wonderful, luxurious shimmer: mere purple and green alchemizes into amethyst and emerald (above).

Then we discovered a new font, Carolyna, with a lovely hand-lettered feel, to bring added flourish to these cards. See how the descender of the letter “y” swirls off the page and back again (above).

Speaking of showing off (above), imagine our delight to see, just last night at the Met Ball in New York, a further evolution of the fashion trend. Jewel tones and bird motifs suddenly combined as one in purple feather dresses, worn fearlessly by Beyonce (in Givenchy, below left), and Diane Kruger (Prada, below right).

Might we gently suggest it could be a little easier to stay on-trend by sending one of our cards than trying one of these dresses? “Flights of Fancy”, our trio of cards, is one the new collections we’ll be bringing to the National Stationery Show in New York (May 20-23). It will be in stores and available online from June.

We’re in Real Simple Magazine this Month!
April 16th, 2012

One little circle, but a whole lot of delight. We really had to pinch ourselves this week when we were able to slap the “As Seen in Real Simple” button onto a set of our cards (see above).

For a stationery company, scoring a credit in Real Simple is a bit like an actor getting the call from Scorsese: it’s what we’re all secretly waiting for. We vividly recall when Real Simple magazine first arrived on the scene in 2000. We were in London, so the first few issues appeared sporadically, and were passed around our offices like samizdat.

What was this magazine trying to do, with its clean crisp typography, its luscious, languid, photography, and the audacity to put a few bowls or a single flower on its cover? (A pair of early magazines, above.) Surely, it wouldn’t last on a newsstand teaming with neon colors and ravenously smiling models?

Today, of course, Real Simple is a publishing behemoth, with a monthly circulation just shy of 2 million. Which goes to show it’s never wise to underestimate a market. There is space for sophisticated, measured design — and naturally this encourages us immensely.

How proudly our Leaping Zebra card sits among their other choices on the page (above). Charles Masters, a celebrated still life magazine photographer, has created a beautifully — dare we say it — simple shot.

Order a set of Zebra blank cards directly here.

4 Quotes to Live By
April 12th, 2012

Long, long before we started our card company, we were collecting quotes. Scribbled on little notes, distributed in emails, shared at dinner parties. When we found one that really resonated, we wanted not to forget it.

But, now that we’re in the biz, how to make our quote cards distinctive? Here at J. Falkner, when in doubt, we bring the sun in. Let’s make these cards as bright as they can be. Then let’s draw on our magazine days, and get bold and inventive with type.

So here they are — our “Colorful Quotes”, from Oscar Wilde, Emily Dickinson and Cole Porter (top, left to right).

Let’s face it: no one says it quite like Oscar.

Who knows where this one came from, but it spoke to us.

It’s true, isn’t it? But, like any bit of wisdom, this quote can be interpreted in different ways.

These cards are part of our current collection and all available online here. We also offer them in a great mixed boxed set of each of the 6 different quotes.

This collection has been such a success for us, we are creating a new trio, and here’s a sneak peek at one coming in June, a quote from Cole.

What are your favorite quotes? We’d genuinely like to hear: leave us a comment. Who knows, yours might be perfect for a “Colorful Quote” …

A Bounty of Blossoms for Easter
April 7th, 2012

Happy Easter! One of our favorite thoughts about this holiday comes from Betran de Born, a 12th century French troubadours. “Well pleaseth me,” wrote de Born, “the sweet time of Easter/ That maketh the leaf and the flower come out.”

So it is these delicious flowers and colors of Spring that we are putting in a Easter basket blog for you.

New York, being a super-size city, has a tendency to conjure up the most massive floral arrangements. These sensational branches of cherry blossoms (above) are found in the lobby of the Metropolitan Museum in the Springtime, and must stretch over 10 feet tall.

And yet a simple pair of hyacinths (above), with their dewy scent of Spring, are equally beautiful. Look at the luscious color combination nature provides: the rich green stalk and cerulean blue flowers.

Blowsy yellow tulips echo the pastel colors of a bowl of sugared almonds, to us one of chicest Easter indulgences.

How easily the magnolia blossoms bruise and fade (above), but in the right moment their pinky cream colors are matchless.

The perfect square patch of grass (above) is unexpected, but holds the fresh promise of Spring.

A perky little rabbit guards the napkin, while tangerine colored rununculas tumble out of a silver beaker. … And, remember, rabbits aren’t just for Easter. Our bunny birthday card (below) is a year-round pleaser.

Color Symphonies at Sea
April 2nd, 2012

We recently had the occasion to sail the high seas on a Caribbean cruise. Sure, the buffet plates were the size of serving platters, and the best-dressed couple on the boat were the Italian magicians, but surrounding us — and soothing us — was the bluest of blue seas we ever did see.

In fact, simple blue quickly became an inadequate description, as the approach of each island seemed to bring its own unique shade of sea.

The promenade deck was pole position to watch the constantly shifting colors of the sea. The navy cushions and varnished teak chairs (above) were appropriately nautical chic.

Arriving at Eleuthera (above), in the Bahamas. This emerald green reminds us why, for many centuries, the oceans on maps were depicted as green, not blue.

The flash of a white boat (above), against a deep rich blue sea, seems to welcome us as as we cruise into the port of St Maarten.

How adorable is this dolphinfish tile work we discovered along one of the pretty streets of Marigot, le capital of St Martin.

Look at this palette of blue laid out in the harbor of one of the Turks and Caicos islands (above). The progression from inky blues to rich cyan to shimmering turquoise could be a masterclass in color.

John Burroughs, the 19th century American naturalist, wisely remarked: “I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.” We know when our senses begin to align, because fresh new ideas start to bob up to the surface.

And naturally we were card-inspired on this trip. The result is this anniversary card (below), which celebrates the beautiful colors of the sea we saw, and the sweet serenity we felt, cocooned in our little portside cabin.

(This card will become part of our new card collection that we’ll be presenting at the National Stationery Show in New York at the end of May. Stay tuned for more card sneak peeks to come!)