design process

Putting “Pan Am” Glam into a Card
October 16th, 2011
FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestLinkedInShare

Like a lot of America, we’ve become rather taken with TV’s new guilty pleasure, Pan Am (above, with Christina Ricci and Margot Robbie). Sure, we’d be a little less embarrassed watching it if one the ditzier stewardesses wasn’t also working undercover as a CIA agent, but what’s not to like about those JFK days in the early 60’s when planes were chic and spotless, and air travel itself was as glamorous as any destination.

Well it didn’t take us long to think there could be card in there somewhere. The palette alone — the sky blue outfits with their crisp white accents — represents a sunny optimism we’ll definitely get on board with. (And, no, we never knowingly resist a good pun.)

We found a great piece of airplane art that felt suitably retro, and then we thought to delight the eye by letting the words themselves create an elegant arcing slipstream. So far, so good. But how could the card be that little bit better? Back to our travel inspirations for more help.

Suddenly: what about those marvelous airmail envelopes we never seem to see anymore? And look at the difference (below). A simple graphic border transformed the birthday card into something as jaunty as the stewardesses’ hats.

This card, which has a greeting of “Happy Birthday” on the inside, forms part of our new collection that will be released in the next few months. But we couldn’t resist giving you this sneak preview now.

Artist Profile: Adrian Valencia
October 12th, 2011

One of our best-selling cards features a pair of long slim legs clad in Prada kitten heels. Sure, the line “May All Your Gift Be Shoes” is hard to resist, but what makes these cards stand out are the super-chic drawings, courtesy of illustrator Adrian Valencia.

We first met Adrian over 10 years ago in London, when we commissioned him at a fashion magazine. He arrived at our offices, not long out of art school, and luckily for us his portfolio was as delightful as his Argentinian charm.

When we started J. Falkner, we knew we wanted a great line of fashion cards and our immediate thought was: get Adrian! Since we first worked with him, he’s assembled a pretty fabulous client list, including British Airways, Montblanc, Cartier, and Vanity Fair Italy. But he was as enthusiastic about collaborating as we were, and found the time to create the wonderful “Style Set” range, which features everyday cards, and also a new holiday range.

We are fascinated by how visual ideas come together, so we were delighted when Adrian agreed to share his creative process. Here, in his own words:

“Everything can be a source of inspiration. A woman getting out of a car … A couple waiting for the ski chair lift in the Alps … Elle McPherson taking her kids to school … The little toys I keep on my desk … A great music video … A fun night out with my friends …

“I don’t think I’m drawing fashion. I simply observe what is around me and then draw. I’m fascinated by how people carry themselves in certain clothes, and I hardly ever get bored.

“I see illustration going back to basics. I see a lot of illustration mixing watercolor and graphite. There are many trends around but it is still something precious to see hand drawn artwork.

“I love art that tells a story. I love Lori Earley. Her work makes me want to paint. Her talent is not only inspirational but sexy, fun and emotionally provocative. (See Lori’s work here.)

“Right now my favorite color is fluorescent orange. A friend gave me a beautiful orange folder to keep my desk tidy, and on sunny days it seems to glow with its own light.”

See Adrian’s full portfolio of work at adrianvalencia.com, and don’t miss his blog drawadriandraw.blogspot.com. His illustrations of fashion’s front row and Will & Kate’s wedding guests (see them here) are our favorites.

A Jackie Kennedy Quote That Deserves a Card
October 10th, 2011

It’s no surprise to us all the attention paid to the recently released Jacqueline Kennedy interview tapes, recorded shortly after the assassination of her husband, now nearly 50 years ago. They reveal that the sugary soft voice could also dispense a surprising bit of spice, calling Indira Gandhi a “bitter prune”, Charles DeGaulle an ”egomaniac”, and Lady Bird Johnson “a trained hunting dog”. Oh dear.

To us, focusing on those particular soundbites seems a bit of a shame. Instead we like to imagine Jackie’s comments being as unwaveringly chic as her outfits.

There is one Jackie phrase in particular that enchants us. Late in her life, when she was very ill, she had a lovely lunch of six (yes, six!) desserts with her good friend John Loring. It so lifted her spirits that, in a note to him, she wrote: “… Seeing you is always like champagne.”

Well, if that wonderful turn of phrase doesn’t call out to be a card, we don’t know what does. The quote itself is marvelous enough, but we puzzled — in a sea crowded with cards with quotes — how to give it a distinctive visual treatment? … And then, from the deep and occasionally creative recesses of our mind, an idea burst forward: what if the type was in the shape of a champagne glass? And there you have it.

This card will be going into production later in the year, accompanied by other quotes that have caught our attention. And certainly we’d love to hear about your favorite quotes. Let us know, and maybe they, too, could become a card.

Read the whole story of John Loring’s friendship with Jackie as it was published in Harpers Bazaar here.

Just Because: A Longing for Falling Leaves
October 1st, 2011


We confess it’s hard to have many regrets in all the Florida sunshine of Palm Beach, but one thing we do miss — especially as October starts today — are the leaves that begin to fall up North. Even a slightly moody existentialist like Albert Camus had to admit: “Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower.”

So while the palm trees sway outside, we look back with a little bit of longing to our memories of their deciduous brothers, and the clouds of color in Central Park that used to hover outside our balcony (above).


How many perfect shades of orange you can find in one simple tumble of maple leaves (above, at the New York Botanical Gardens).



The gingko trees (above, top), with their yellow helicopter leaves, were always our favorites. It’s no surprise to us that Irving Penn seized on their graphic shape for the cover of his 1991 book, “Passage” — one of the landmark photography books of the 20th century. If you ever happen upon an edition lonely at a garage sale, pounce.


In Lenox, MA, we were struck by the golden yellow of this maple tree against the white clapboard siding. And understood why the 19th century Massachusetts poet William Cullen Bryant once wrote: “Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile.”



We marveled how a single perfect oak leaf, blushing red, stood out in a pile — and it inspired us to create a similar cluster of leaves for this sympathy card (above).

In Defense of the Desk
September 27th, 2011

We’ve had a terrific response to this past weekend’s article (read it here) in the Palm Beach Daily News, and one thing that intrigued us is how many people wanted to know more about our design space. So we’re happy to take ourselves out of the picture — quite literally, see above top — and look at our desk.

Let it be said that sitting at your desk generally gets a bad rap. Anais Nin proudly declared, “My ideas usually come not at my desk writing but in the midst of living”, while John LeCarré warned, “A desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world.”

Which is all well and good if you can gallivant around 30’s Paris, or need to stalk the Cold War stage, but if like the rest of us you have to earn a living, you tend to be hunkered down at a desk. So we counter Ms Nin and Mr LeCarré with our favorite French proverb: Appetite comes with eating.

Day after day we sit ourselves down and design, and it’s only then that the ideas start to flow. Fortunately, our desk is a place we love to be. It at once reminds us of where we are, and where we’ve been.

Our desk itself, with its raffia and bamboo effect, anchors us here in Palm Beach’s golden light. The cane chair and lamp also speak to the good luck of our tropical locale. In front of us we often range a collection of mementos. Here we have our white porcelain dachshund, a small Fornasetti dish and a brass puppy — each one sourced from a different trip, these memories keep us happy company.

Perhaps this is our guide to a good work space. If you need to be at your desk anyway, populate it with fine things that you truly love — why not dump that old plastic pencil pot for a silver beaker? — and maybe you won’t always feel the need to escape it.

Bespoke House Stationery Gifts
September 2nd, 2011

One of our favorite things about the Labour Day weekend that begins today is the chance it gives us to visit city friends at their country homes. The last long weekend of the summer is often the sweetest, when everyone is in the mood to stretch that season’s happiness as long as they can.

Our host/hostess gift was usually a lovely big fashion or photographic book, just frivolous enough that no one would buy it for themselves. But these days, being in the stationery biz, we love bringing bespoke house cards that we personalize with a simple logo of the address. Wrap ‘em up with a silk ribbon, and you’re go to go. Friends enjoy them so much, we thought you all might enjoy seeing some of them as well.

(We’re hoping to offer this kind of bespoke service soon, but for a similar effect now: get a box of our “Little Notes” and run them through your own printer with your friend’s address. Presto! Martha Stewart would approve of your craftiness.)

A Card for New York
July 20th, 2011

One great thing about having a card company is that you’re never at a loss for the right card. Or you hope so. But sometimes that means you need to design one within 24 hours.

When New York reached its wonderful and historic decision to sign gay marriage into law, we thought we’d have a bit of time to create exactly the right card to celebrate this. But within that same weekend, a pair of our closest friends were engaged — suddenly, we needed a card pronto!

Here’s the result, above. We happened upon the idea of two knights — because let’s face it, arriving at gay marriage in New York was definitely a fight hard-won. And deciding to marry, whatever your orientation, is a very noble idea.

(This card is so new it’s not yet in shops. But if you’d like to place an order for your store, or just buy one individually, please let us know at info@jfalkner.com and we’ll make it happen! Stay tuned, we’ll be creating one for women, too!)

Color crush: Aqua
June 28th, 2011

It’s no secret we love color here at J. Falkner. We seem to spend an inordinate amount of time gazing at our pantone book, considering this shade of blue or that shade of green. One color we always return to is Aqua. You might see turquoise, or celadon, or green-blue — but we like to call it Aqua, which conveys that beautiful shimmery color of water on a summer’s day.

We have a favorite little vase — which you’ll see in the picture above — that has followed us over the years from London, to New York and now Palm Beach: its wonderful color and glaze delights us every time we see it.

We love aqua because it is a color that plays well with others. Consider it with chocolate brown; this is a pairing we’ve used on a number of our cards (for example, the elephant and balloon icons). It also works well with a crisp white, but it’s surprisingly effective with orange, too. There are very few colors that aren’t enhanced by aqua, which is why it’s become one of our go-to colors at J. Falkner.

And here’s an interesting bit of color history: for the better half of the last millenium, the sea was portrayed in western art as green. It was only from the early 1500s, due to the new popularity of the Virgin Mary and her signature blue, that artists started interpreting the seas and oceans as the blue we recognize as standard today.

* Aqua: our pantone reference is 573.

Natural inspirations
June 9th, 2011

The garden of the Four Arts is one of the most beautiful places in Palm Beach. The plantings have such beautiful details. For example, if you look closely at this little patch of green it is actually full of the most wonderful textures and shapes. I was especially delighted by all the clovers, and thought that this could be a charming pattern for a card. And there you have it – the inspiration behind our ‘Aren’t We Lucky?’ Anniversary card.

Our first booth!
May 25th, 2011


Last week we were in New York at the National Stationery Show for the official launch of the company, where we put together a bright white booth to display our collection. The concept was to create a simple, modern space in which we could show off the cards as miniature artworks. And it seemed to work … We had a terrific reception to all the fresh vibrant colors – especially the wall of bright cards – and we signed up nearly 20 new stores! We couldn’t be more thrilled about all the wonderful shops that will soon be carrying our collection.