We recently hosted our very first webinar in partnership with the GCA (Greeting card association), sharing our experience in preparing greeting card designs for print production. Paul Brooks, our pre-production director, shared his ‘golden rules’ for print-ready designs, including the advantages of designing ‘envelope first’, how to understand resolution and colour profiles and handy programme shortcuts for InDesign and Illustrator.
Paul also covered the best method for setting up and separating artwork ready for multiple process print runs e.g. adding foil, die-cutting and embossing. Allowing digital designers to take the first step towards utilising the specialist print finishes available to the greeting card market.
The webinar, aimed at publishers of all sizes, would be of benefit to all GCA members and greeting card publishers who are experiencing challenges in transitioning their initial designs and illustrations in to finalised card layouts. If you would like to read through the presentation slides and have them on hand for future reference, please click on the followinglink.
Along with the webinar slides we would also recommend members of the GCA to make the most of their library of print production support including guides on bleed and trim, image resolution and print finishes, you can do so here.
If you’d like more information on how the GCA can support you as a business in the greeting card industry please visit their ‘about us’ page.
Take a look through the print ready check list below, If you’ve got the green light, great news!
Contact the Loxleys team and we will give your artwork a final check through before sending your designs to press: [email protected]
Over the past 6 months we have had the pleasure of working with Harry (Raggy Media) a student based at Sheffield UTC college. Harry has assisted our in-house marketing team in building a library of film and photography suitable to share on the Loxleys website and social media. We recently had a catch up with Harry to discuss how he was finding his placement at Loxleys and to share his plans for the future are.
What is your role at Loxleys?
At Loxleys, I carry out the role of Marketing intern, in this role I use my skills in photography, videography and graphic design to share updates with Loxleys new and existing customers. I assist Heather in scheduling content for social media, Loxleys’ website and email newsletters, with the aim of gaining engagement and attention, which will hopefully translate into sales.
What Skills Have You Gained/ Built Upon?
The most notable skill improvement since I started my placement at Loxleys is in my photography. Compared to my first photos at Loxleys, I am now able to position greetings cards and frame images in such a way that they are visually appealing. After being at Loxleys for a few months I have been able to gain a deep understanding into how social media can be used to effectively market a brand and establish/ represent a brand identity.
What Project Are You Most Proud of So Far?
Within Loxleys, I would have to say that my proudest project is the interview blog and Instagram post we created in collaboration with Dialectable. Creating this post required understanding of brand identity to be able to simultaneously represent the two brands involved (Loxleys and Dialectable) using their brand colours.
Outside of Loxleys, my favourite project is currently in the works, it is a short film I am producing as a part of my technical media coursework at UTC Sheffield (this short film is currently advertised on my Instagram page @raggy_media). Loxleys flexibility in my work placement schedule has allowed me to put as much effort into what I produce for them as personal projects or coursework without being stretched too thinly.
What are your next steps?
After my time at Loxleys comes to an end, and once I have finished my college education, I plan on going to University to pursue a BA in Film and Television Production and potentially even an MA in Documentary Production.
My work placement at Loxleys has already significantly increased the skills I will need for the future, they have given me access to this wealth of information on social media strategy and plenty of opportunities to put my skills into practice. The media I have produced for Loxleys has been added to both my digital and physical portfolios, which I will be using in applications to university and future careers.
From your experience what are the benefits of work placements?
Work experience offers a unique experience that the regular education system doesn’t. It enables you to explore the industry you want to work in and get a better understanding of roles and responsibilities. For me it has been a great start into entering a serious career that I have any passion in.
I would highly recommend anyone who is given the opportunity to enter work experience to do it. Especially at Loxleys, the staff (even outside of the department I work in) are friendly and approachable and always willing to help.
We’d like to share our thanks with Harry for taking the time to answer our questions and for his continued hard work as a valued member of the Loxleys marketing team. If you are feeling inspired to get involved with Loxleys and would like more details on work experience placements please contact [email protected]
If you would like to follow Harrys journey please follow him on social media or Youtube:
This years GCA AGM, held at the Leeds Royal Armoury, was truly a grand day out! The annual event held by the Greeting Card Association brought together over 180 members from all across the industry from publishing, to printing, to share their experiences, catch up on industry news and celebrate the strength of our wonderful card-munity.
The day started with the GCA’s annual market report, supported by research from Kantar, reflecting on the current state of the greeting card market and celebrating it’s continued resilience to the cost of living crisis. This presentation was followed by guest speakers Sarah Laker (Independent shop owner) Wendy of Wendy-Jones Blackett (Designer) and Adam Dury of Cardfactory. Each talk was engaging and inspiring, sharing a different perspective of the greeting card industry.
This years event also included a mixer element, with individuals from different businesses seated together for dinner, this was a great opportunity to meet new faces, discuss the days talks and connect with different areas of the industry. The Loxleys team attending enjoyed this fresh take on the annual get together and left the event feeling inspired and informed about the future of the industry.
We’d like to share our thanks to the GCA council for organising such a successful event and celebrate the friendly and inclusive community of greetings cards. If you’d like to learn more about the GCA and how they can support your business visit: About | Greeting Card Association
That’s right we’ve hit the big 169! Founded in 1854, as a stationery and printing shop on the Sheffield high street, Loxleys has evolved into an established print partner serving the greeting card industry and producing over 100 million cards a year!
As we reach this milestone we’d like to share a huge thanks to all our employees, customers and industry partners for their ongoing support. Whilst a lot has changed over the years at Loxleys we are proud to continue operating from our historical factory in the heart of Sheffield which continues to serve us well to this day.
If you’d like to read more about the history of Loxleys including details on our founders (with links to Robin Hood) and our humble beginnings as a book binder and stationery shop, you can read the story in full here.
Join us over on Instagram and see how we’re celebrating this years anniversary and keep up to date with what’s around the corner for Loxleys.
The most glamorous get together in the greeting card calendar
Last week saw the return of our favourite event on the card industry calendar, the Henries. The annual award ceremony, hosted by progressive greetings, shares the achievements of greeting card designers and publishers across 20 award categories such as ‘Best Humorous Range’, ‘Best Photographic Range’, and ‘Best Diversity and Inclusion Range’.
As a print and production partner Loxley regularly hosts a table at the Henries, inviting a selection of publishers to join the celebrations. Hosted at the Royal Lancaster Hotel, this year’s Mardi Gras inspired Henries began with a buzzing drinks reception accompanied by music from The Steel Panthers – a Carribean steel drum band. Then it was time to get down to business and announce this year’s wonderful winners. As a key sponsor of the award ceremony Loxleys Managing Director, Tony Lorriman, was invited to the stage to present the award for ‘Best Childrens Range’ to the 2023 winner Raspberry Blossom (see video below).
The night ended on a high, with the incredible drag act Ruby Violet getting the 500+ guests up onto the dance floor, where the party went on until the early hours of the morning!
The Loxleys team in attendance had an incredible time and would like to send a special thanks to the GCA (Greeting Card Association) for hosting such a memorable evening! Their continued support of the greeting card industry plays a pivotal role in fostering connections among industry peers, promoting collaboration, and nurturing an exciting and forward-thinking community that we are proud to be a part of.
A special shout-out goes to our wonderful table guests who made the 28th Henries one of our favourites so far. Filled with laughter, wine, and plenty of confetti!
We can’t wait to do it all again next year!
1st Image – Table decorations, 2nd Image -Tony announcing the award winner, 3rd Image the table a few glasses of wine and confetti cannons later!
Loxleys and Greentings collaborate in reusable ‘Thinking of You’ cards
To celebrate this years ‘Thinking of You’ week we’ve partnered with fellow GCA member Greentings to create a re-usable ‘Thinking of You’ card design. The bright and bold card will be posted across the UK during September to share the message of spreading love, care and happiness through the gifting of greeting cards. The reusable Greentings’ design can be shared again and again carrying the sentiment for weeks and months to come.
Each of the cards printed for this promotion is packaged with additional inserts, spare envelopes and stamps to encourage at least three uses. On receiving a card, the recipient can enjoy their personal message, remove it for safekeeping, then send on the card with a clean insert to someone else who could use a thoughtful gesture. Recipients of the card can even use the serial number printed inside to find out where in the world their card ends up!
This years collaboration with Greentings offers a new approach to the annual ‘Thinking of You’ event for Loxleys, celebrating collaboration within the greeting card industry while acknowledging the importance of sustainability.
We are really excited about this concept for ‘Thinking of You Week’ as it actively encourages the ‘Thinking of You’ sentiment to be shared again and again with a chain of kind messages.
The limited edition print run will be used by Greentings and the team at Loxleys to post to their friends, family and neighbours to champion the GCA campaign and share the ‘Thinking of You’ sentiment far and wide.
Kerry, Greentings had this to say about the project ‘We love taking part in Thinking of You week and this year will be even more special due to the collaboration with Loxleys. We are beyond happy that our reusable design will be shared far and wide for this campaign and can’t wait to hear where in the world the cards end up!’
Heather, marketing at Loxleys commented ‘We see each print run as a partnership and this project has been no different. It’s been a great experience being a part of the design process as well as production of a card. The team are excited to post out the finished card to family and friends and see how far we can spread the ‘Thinking of You’ message’.
If you are lucky enough to receive one of these special cards please use the serial number inside to help track it’s journey, and tag both @greentingsofficial and @loxleysprint on Instagram.
To find out how Greentings combines reusable greeting cards with show-stopping art work please visit greentings.co.uk. If you’d like to know more about printing at Loxleys head over to loxleys.co.uk, @loxleysprint or contact the team at [email protected].
In today’s digital age, where screens dominate our lives, it is imperative that we recognise the value of sending and receiving traditional greeting cards and advocate this age-old practise to future generations. Rather than reviewing the negative impact of screen time on our physical and mental health lets shine a light on the positives for both sending and receiving greetings cards and celebrate the enduring significance of sharing a tangible message through greetings cards.
To get a better idea of how opening a special card makes us feel we asked individuals from different age groups and backgrounds to share their experiences:
“One of my friends has moved to Berlin, It’s great getting post of him and thinking how far it’s travelled.”Dave 20, Student
“There’s something really lovely about having a physical item that holds a message. It’s not the same as a text or a call, it’s more permanent.” Suzie 31, Florist
“When someone sends a card with the right design and wording that you can really relate to, you know they’ve really thought about you and understand your personality.” Hayley 35, Transport Officer
“My daughter makes all my birthday cards (she’s 5) so the drawings are always very funny!” Mike 41, Teacher
“If it’s a special milestone birthday I like to keep hold of the greeting cards in a keepsake box along with a few photos, it’s a good reminder of the friends and family that were around to celebrate with you.” Rachel 54, Shop Assistant
“I appreciate when someone has made the effort to think of me and pick a design which reflects my interests or something we have in common like gardening or drinking cocktails!“ Julie 62, Retired
The joy of sending cards
In a fast-paced digital world, writing offers a slower, more deliberate mode of communication while demonstrating thoughtfulness and effort. Unlike instant messaging or social media, writing greeting card messages provide an opportunity for expression and compassion. Taking the time to handwrite a message has been shown to create a sense of joy and accomplishment.
The joy of receiving cards
The act of receiving a physical card brings joy, warmth, and a sense of connection. Unlike digital messages that can be easily forgotten, physical cards have a lasting impact. Holding a card is a tangible experience, stimulating our senses and generating a deeper emotional connection. Greeting cards allow individuals to feel seen, valued, and appreciated, contributing to improved mental well-being and stronger relationships. Unlike an email, WhatsApp or social media message a physical card is often kept for many years, added to photo albums or journals as a memento of the thoughtful message long after it initially lands on the doorstep.
In a world increasingly driven by digital interactions, we are nevertheless drawn to tangible objects that hold sentimental value. The act of writing and receiving a physical card holds a special place in our society, allowing us to foster meaningful connections and to create sentimental memories.
Send a card to celebrate ‘Thinking of you’ week
If you have been inspired to celebrate the power of greetings cards, now is the perfect time to post a card to someone special. The GCA’s annual ‘Thinking of you’ week is just around the corner, find tips for card making, card messaging and examples of the best card designs to post to loved ones on their website www.thinkingofyouweek.cards
Before you even pick up your camera (or phone) having a clear plan of your shoot will help make the experience stress free. These are the things I like to have lined up before shooting:
Check your ratios and requirements if you are shooting for a specific platform like NOTHs or Etsy
Make a plan covering the colours and theme of your shoot, if your not sure where to start with this take a look at your website, social media and designs and pick out the most used colours (see example below)
Select your backgrounds (papers, tiles, fabric, vinyl backgrounds)
Gather your props (envelopes, pens, stamps, themed props that fit your shoot e.g. candles for a birthday or confetti for a wedding) have these easy to reach to swap in and out of photos
Manage your lighting whether you are using natural light from a window or an artificial light you will likely need a photography reflector or a white piece of card to bounce the light across your photo. This should be placed opposite the light source and tilted towards the focus of the photo.
The little things – Blue tac, washi tape or post it notes, these always come in handy for clasping cards together, keeping envelopes in place and even creating depth by placing them inside a card in a flatlay.
Finally, If you are looking to take consistent shots for website listings I’d recommend doing a test run with one card, setting up a tri-pod or makeshift stand for your camera and marking where each card should stand with a faint pencil mark or washi tape. This will save you a lot of time and stress when it comes to editing the photos – giving a clean, consistent frame.
Take care of your cards – Make sure there are no scuffs or marks on your card that detract from your design
Don’t forget the purpose of the shoot, it’s easy to get carried away with colours and props but check in and make sure you are selling the design, it’s in focus and front of stage
Showcase your selling point find a layout that works for you and shows any finishes or design features in your greeting card design e.g. you could have your eco credentials on the back, so photograph one card forward facing and one card showing the back. If page 3/4 of your card has a particular colour, design, or message show that off, retailers and customers want to see exactly what they are buying.
If you are shooting a group of cards use height to add visibility, a gift box, shelf or unbranded packaging will do the job if you don’t want to invest in plinths.
If your looking to build your photography set up with key pieces and props I’d recommend the following:
Recently we had a catch up with Yorkshire Legend, Julia owner of Dialectable. Julia has generously shared her experience of becoming an established greeting card and gift designer. Discussing her design influences, love for language and the building blocks of her Yorkshire brand.
Dialectable was started in September 2013 from a love for language and local dialects. Within 6 months the first range was created, launched and retailer ready. Almost 10 years on Dialectable has grown to a range of over 200 greeting card designs along with mugs, notebooks and even Jams! A one stop shop for Yorkshire lads and lasses!
All things Yorkshire…
What’s the best thing about being based in Sheffield?
The humour of locals, and the proximity of Peaks.
If you could collaborate with any other Yorkshire business, who would it be and why?
Yorkshire Tea. That would be a collaboration made in heaven. Nowt goes with our mugs better than Yorkshire tea.
What other Sheffield based independents/creators do you admire?
Pete McKee, James Green, Richard Hawley.
What is your favourite Yorkshire phrase?
Anything with ‘shite’ in it!
What is your favourite Yorkshire food?
All things Greeting Cards..
As the business owner, what does a day at Dialectable look like?
Every day is different. The basics are always fulfilling retail and trade orders. We do all the warehousing aspects directly from our office in Heeley now, so that side of things can be busy. It often means we barely have a square inch that isn’t covered with cardboard.
I’m also ordering, projecting, preparing marketing campaigns, doing artwork..all sorts of stuff.
My office manager Sarah is a total legend though, and she mops up loads of the graft. We get on great and I don’t know what I’d do without her.
Where are you from and how does this influence your work?
Hull. Definitely an influence as Hull dialect is very unique and different to the rest of Yorkshire. I’m now a hybrid of East and South Yorkshire after having lived in Sheff for 30+ years. The Hull accent is a bit of a talking point, as its flat vowel sounds are really distinctive. Maybe that’s where my interest started. Yorkshire people are very patriotic about their county and proud of their accents. It seemed right and proper to offer a card and gift line that reflected that.
Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
I think that colour is just about my favourite thing. I also love fonts. So Dialectable was kind of born out of being passionate about both. I love retro poster design and bold graphics. Classic Penguin book covers from the 50s and 60s are wonderful and definitely inspired me.
What makes Dialectable unique?
The products are humorous but the designs are classic and quality is premium. Sometimes cards and gifts that are considered ‘fun’ can also be a bit naff. We pride ourselves on being amusing and tasteful at the same time.
What is your proudest business moment?
Maybe being shortlisted for Gift of the Year the first time I applied. But actually I just love it when I’m working a stand and I hear people killing themselves laughing as they browse the cards. And then they say something like “‘av you come up with this?… it’s brilliant!”. Those moments are the best 🙂
Do you have any tips for designing greetings cards?
If you have an idea, draft it and keep reworking until it’s 110%. My design looks simple, but it wasn’t simple to create. I had the concept – but I had to harness it in a design that would work over and over again and stand the test of time. And whenever I do something slightly different with it – I have to rework it billions of times until I know it’s perfect.
A huge thank you to Julia for her time and honest answers. We love seeing Julia’s iconic (and sometimes very cheeky) designs pass through our printers here at Loxleys. The added benefits of being just around the corner means Dialectable is able to collect their latest greetings cards hot of the press, printed, banded and ready to go.
An insight into our history with RoSPA safety posters
Founded in 1854 by The Loxley Brothers William and Edward, Loxleys has a long and diverse history in UK print production. Over the past 160 years Loxleys have adapted to offer a range of printed items including stationery, magazines and catalogues and product packaging. Leading to our current specialism as a greeting card manufacturer turning over 150 million cards a year from our Sheffield factory.
By the 1930’s Loxleys had built a strong reputation for high-speed and high-quality print production with factories in both London and Sheffield, making us the printer of choice for many businesses including Rowntree’s, Batchelors and RoSPA (The Royal society for the Prevention of Accidents). Loxleys Sheffield based factory handled the production and distribution of RoSPA posters up and down the UK until the early 90’s, proving to be a very reliable and efficient partner.
RoSPA are an independent charity who focus on promoting safety in the home, on the road and in the work place. You may have come across RoSPA through their development of the green cross code, tufty the squirrel and workplace health & safety posters.
The charity are most renowned for their striking early poster designs, combining typography, illustration, and photography. Created by artists such as Leonard Cusden, Peter Ray, Roland Davies and Tom Eckersley. The eye catching posters play a significant role in the development of graphic design in the UK, along with giving an insight into social concerns and developments from the times they were produced.
As long-standing partners of RoSPA we are lucky enough to have a handful of the original artwork here at Loxleys (see below) and have recently had them verified and valued by Sheffield auction gallery. We plan to keep them safe in our archives, as an invaluable piece of Loxleys company history.
RoSPA are a fascinating part of Loxleys background, highlighting the companies versatility and ambition within the print industry. Loxleys has a long, proud history – surviving both world wars, two site fires and more recently a global pandemic. We hope to be a leading name in the print industry for many years to come and look forward to adding to the Loxleys legacy.