My Top 50 UK Greeting Card Publishers - Part 2 of 3
Written by Jean-Paul Michael
Welcome to Part 2 of my three-part series in regard to my top 50 UK greeting card publishers. In Part 1, which you can read here, I wrote about how I was introduced to UK cards in the early 1990s and why I think this sovereign state is leading the way in terms of the greeting card industry. The facts really do speak for themselves.
A selection of what the UK has to offer
As I previously mentioned in Part 1, there are more than a thousand greeting card publishers in the United Kingdom but in this series, I am writing about my top 50. Here in Part 2, I would like to share with you 18 more UK publishers that I found to feature wonderful cards and they are some of the best in the world.
Hello Geronimo, Tunbridge Wells, Kent
With the tagline 'Innovative Playfulness', you just know Hello Geronimo is going to offer some cool and interesting cards - and they do. Since Victoria Kieldsen launched the brand in 2011, Kent-based Hello Geronimo has sold prints, stationery and artwork as well as lovely, colourful, high-quality cards, many of which feature luxurious handmade embellishments. I have a few favourites, some of which would look amazing framed, and I am sure you will too!
Honovi Design, Radcliffe, Greater Manchester
I've been following Honovi on Instagram for some time now and their posts never fail to make me smile. The fronts of their cards feature unique images from the 1950s to the 1980s, sourced from vintage 35mm photo slides, and the result is weird, wonderful and often hilarious. From Pig Boy to Happy Campers and Arm Wrestle to The Lads, these greeting cards are actually a fascinating insight into life in bygone times, and the ones adorned with UK images are a delight for this Canadian.
I am Nat Ltd, Fulford, York
I Am Nat is, of course, run by a lady called Natalie, a Yorkshire-based designer who specializes in prints and cards and also sells stationery and gift wrap. Many of her card designs feature funny quotes, while some are simply cute quotes, but all of them are stunning and original. The Alice in Wonderland cards in particular are excellent and deserve a mention. You can even have a handwritten message added inside so that they can send a card directly to your recipient.
I Drew This, Brighton
I stands for Ilona, whose surname happens to be Drew, so I Drew This is the perfect name for this artist's business. In addition to cards, Ilona designs a few other products, including tea towels, enamel badges and coasters. The cards themselves are unique, colourful and striking, with the UK landmark cards my favourites. From Buckingham Palace to Windsor Castle and Stonehenge to Edinburgh Castle, I can't get enough of the cool, quirky designs. Plus little kids will love the Mischief range.
James Ellis Stevens Ltd, Bristol
Since 1997, the small team at James Ellis have been publishing greeting cards and stationery, including personalized products. As well as supplying to multinationals, distributors and independent stores around the world, they also sell to retail customers on Etsy, with their adorable hand-finished Shakies range of cards in particular getting plenty of rave reviews. With a Shakie, the pretty card picture is put inside a see-through bag, which is filled with loose glitter and confetti, so when you shake it, it looks even prettier. It's a great touch and one which will certainly engage all ages.
Jane Faires Art, Totnes, Devon
Jane Faires Art publishes fine art greeting cards that are printed from Jane's individually hand-painted pictures, which are all created in Devon. The use of colour in all the card ranges is impressive and the images themselves are wonderful. Many of the cards feature animals and birds, and you'll find adorable domestic pets, farmyard cuties and even a dodo beautifully painted to life but this hare is a clear favourite of mine.
Janie Wilson Cards, Farsley, Leeds
For more than 17 years, Janie Wilson has been designing and making unique cards in Yorkshire and these days, once done, they are hand-finished by her team-members. By drawing inspiration from new trends, fashion and much more and using interesting techniques and materials, Janie creates charming, brightly-coloured characters and backgrounds that will surely appeal to everyone. I have a few favourites, including a lovable sausage dog wearing a rainbow sweater. Just delightful!
Jelly Armchair Ltd, Cheltenham
Jelly Armchair is a family business, with two sisters, Liz and Cat, at the helm, and the latter illustrating the cards. Even 'dad jokes' sometimes make their way onto the hilarious, pun-filled cards, courtesy of their dad himself. As a Canadian myself, I was drawn to the 'Sorry You're Leafing' card; have a look here to see why! To create the cards, Cat begins by doodling or sketching an idea, which is then hand-drawn in ink or pencil and painted with watercolour or gouache. You can buy the cute, funny cards online and in their own little shop in Gloucestershire's Cheltenham.
Kate Guest Ltd, Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire
Kate Guest started off designing cards for her family several years ago and after some encouragement from her husband, she began selling in local stores. She was soon selling further afield too and nowadays, you can find her range all over the UK as well as internationally. Not only are the colourful cards easy on the eye but from the start, 10% of the company profits have been donated to provide clean water in developing countries. A clear winner in my eyes.
If you're looking for colourful blank cards, kathcards is a great place to find a selection of quirky ones, especially if you have a thing about collage - and teapots, jugs and cups! Kathy MacEwen creates fun, handmade collage cards from found papers and photographs. You'll also find birthday cards on the site, as well as ones with flowers and shapes, and every one is blank inside, so you can add your own words.
Londonland Designs, Iver, Buckinghamshire
One thing I keep noticing about many UK publishers is the quirkiness of the cards and Londonland is no exception. Made in England using the finest card stock from responsible sources and finished with either metallic foil or a fine gloss, Hazel Ponting's Londonland has an array of fascinating designs on offer. She uses her own photography on her cards and then adds digital elements, so you'll find a card featuring a stunning fox that's wearing a crown of apples and is sitting on a huge apple as well as a red kite bird that's about to pinch some chip shop chips. A riveting collection!
Louise Mulgrew Designs, Brighton
For nearly three years so far, family business Louise Mulgrew Designs has been creating gorgeous cards featuring Louise's enchanting illustrations. She works with all kinds of paints, including acrylics, watercolour, and gouache, as well as pen and ink, and the resulting cards have a inky wash that looks hand-drawn. The cards are stocked in hundreds of independent stores, both in the UK and abroad, as well as by major retailers including John Lewis and Paperchase, and are even translated into several languages. I can certainly see why.
Lucy Maggie Designs, Liverpool
With Lucy Maggie Designs, Liverpool-based Lucy Spence combines humour with pop culture and trending topics to come up with a whole host of side-splitting cards. Peaky Blinders fans, millennials and Facebook obsessives all have plenty to choose from but then so do daughters wanting to send a funny Mother's Day card (because sometimes, only 'thanks for feeding me food so that I didn't die' will do). There are rude cards, empowering cards and cute cards but the funny ones are the best.
Obsessed with greeting cards, freelance designer Michelle Gemmel started Memelou in 2012. The brand name is a combination of Meme, which her family address her by, and Lou, which is her middle name and her sister's name. Michelle creates distinctive design-led cards that embody her personality, and they are so vivid and rich in colour. You'll find cards with puns, lovely cards, and cards featuring adorable characters, and many of them are the most colourful cards I've likely ever seen.
Molly Mae, Lutterworth, Leicestershire
Molly Mae is also a combination brand name, made up from the names Molly and Rosa Mae, who are two daughters of the two founders. Since 2009, Stacey and Jude have been selling the traditional hand-drawn cards that they create between them at many independent card and gift shops, and in bookshops, tea rooms and florists around the UK, as well as online. These original cards have lovely artwork and there are some nice surprises, like the Scottish Collection, with cards for a 'wee bairn', a 'top laddie' and more!
Natural Partners Ltd, Marske-by-Sea, North Yorkshire
A family-run publisher of fine art greeting cards and prints, Natural Partners Limited was established in 2010 by Joe and Karen Cole. All the cards feature original artwork and there are currently more than fifty artists showing on the website. So much of the artwork is fantastic and there are so many different mediums present that it would be difficult to choose a favourite.
Noel Tatt Group, Canterbury
The family-run, award-winning Canterbury business Noel Tatt is one of the biggest greeting card suppliers to quality independent retailers and has been around since the early 1950s. In addition to offering many ranges of non-charity cards, Noel Tatt sells Help for Heroes, Helpcards and RSPCA cards, which are well-known in the UK. Their Echo range of embossed foil cards is impressive and the lovely, glittery Carousel range is a firm favourite but their fantastic charity cards are clear winners in my eyes.
Paper Bird Publishing, London
London-based Paper Bird Publishing is another decidedly quirky UK brand, with original images created with different media types by different featured artists. Founded by artist and illustrator Una Joy, who also creates gorgeous cards for the brand, Paper Bird Publishing's products are visually stunning, unique in style and actually some of the cutest ones I've probably ever seen. From calligraphic drawings to abstract art and mixed media to textiles, if you love art and you love greeting cards, this is a fantastic place to start.
So, tune in next week for Part 3 of this three-part series, when I will be writing about more of my top 50 greeting card publishers in the UK.
As a disclaimer, I should say that this is by no means an exhaustive list of UK card publishers and is the next 18 of my top 50 favourites. Moreover, it only includes UK card sellers who have a website.
In the meantime, I truly hope you take as much pleasure as I have wandering through these wonderful websites. I know among them you will find more than one special card you’ll want to send someone as an expression of caring or celebration.
Jean-Paul Michael has spent his entire adult life in the greeting card industry. He co-founded Northern Cards when he was 18 years old and over the last 3 decades, he has held many varying positions in the company. Today, he is proud to be Northern Cards' Publisher and a lifelong greeting card geek