Babies, weddings, grown-up stuff…

Certainly amidst my circle of acquaintance, 2011 should – I feel – be christened the Year of the Squawking, Wrinkly Infant (or Baby, if you prefer): no less than six are scheduled to arrive within the first five months of this year so, accordingly, my drawing desk is littered with cute-teddy-shaped sketchings, and my palette primed with the powderiest of pastel-hued paints. Yes, alas, I have thundered headlong into the gaping maw of Convention for these first forays into birth-celebrating illustrative greetings, but – depending upon how well these are received (i.e. smiles = good; yawning sighs/shrugs/accidental […] discarded-with-the-envelope = distinctly less good) – also intend to mine more abstract terrain in the hope of striking, if not greetings-card gold, then at least semi-precious pyrite. Or perhaps some lovely chalk…

As I mentioned, I shall have ample opportunity to practice exploiting this particular subject from a range of angles over the coming months, but need to remain alert to a few other pretty monumental events lurking betwixt the usually-innocuous days of February and March. I think I am now, irrefutably, marooned upon the vast, tumbleweed-bestrewn (and frequently mirage-inducing) plains of ‘grown-up-ness’, and as such, find my requirement for increasingly rarefied, paper-based greetings multiplying at a rate quite unmatched by my local ‘fancy goods’ purveyors (this is, after all, Staines – and, while I’m about it, dear councillors, I don’t feel that appending ‘-on-Thames’ to the aforementioned is going to miraculously add creative flair and a surfeit of well-stocked gift shops…). This month, then (yes, I know we’re already half-way towards February, but please bear with me in my efforts to claw my way back to normal operating speed), I’m planning to swell my repertoire from a modest/woefully restricted Christmas and bespoke birthday collection to a vast behemoth of Greetings Glory, encompassing weddings, anniversaries, births, (possibly not deaths, just yet – I’m quite glum enough [it still being January] as it is), 10th birthdays (or incur the wrath of an alarmingly fast-growing niece), 21st birthdays, 30th birthdays, 90th birthdays, get-well-soons, exam congratulations, driving test triumphs, and myriad more besides.

Acknowledging, as I have learnt to, that the greetings card market is utterly inundated with sheaf upon sheaf of new, emerging and established talent’s work, and that submissions to a card publishing establishment would be jostling for a few seconds of attention alongside many thousands of other more wonderful, eye-catching and commercially attractive designs, I have begun investigating the possibility of enlisting printing and card/paper-supply services to launch my own modest production outfit. Principal among my considerations will be environmental impact (so, recycled card/material produced from sustainable forests), quality of print (I’d be aiming for an image almost indistinguishable from the original watercolour), and, naturellement, economic viability. I must also, though, collate from my many and disparate past and current illustrations a cogent selection suitable to take forward to print, and one thematised to complement planned and prospective designs yet to be realised. Towards this end…

…COMPETITION! (buried herein) While I am rifling through the selection box of potential suppliers at my disposal – hoping to truffle out the prized pralines and delicious turkish delights, while solicitously avoiding the heinous coffee cremes and punishingly rock-like toffees (apologies: a bit distracted by my own metaphor there…) – I would be most grateful for any suggestions you might have as to other greetings cards you would like to see more readily available: have you ever felt compelled to honour some sort of achievement/milestone in a friend/relative’s life but found the shelves bereft of an appropriate card? (I appreciate that, with the inexorable rise of the paperless, email-transmitted greeting, the answer – and probably in a disappointingly large number of cases – may be a slightly perplexed ‘No’, but please humour me.) Any and all suggestions welcome, as obscure or as niche as you like (although I’d prefer that they weren’t merely more-tortuous variants of existing products, e.g. To a Dear Niece, Twice Removed, and Her Latest Boyfriend – Congratulations on Your Two-Month Anniversary!).

I promise to consider them all and, on 31 January, will select one, or several (depending upon how ingenious they are!), suggestion(s) to draw up into a card design for addition to my expanding flock of greetings – crediting the brain behind the original proposal alongside my details on the reverse, of course!

SO, if it rankles somewhat that I managed to stave off the resumption of work in the initial post-festive period (albeit by, quite literally [and guiltily], hiding under the duvet for a few days), and you feel I really ought to be subjected to a little more pressure than I have managed to inflict upon myself of late (always a challenge…), you have until Sunday 30th January to submit an irresistibly intriguing request. You can do this by firing a message at me on Facebook (if we’re chums!) or Twitter (@amandapollard), or by leaving a comment here (click on the ‘Leave a comment’ link, below): I’d be nothing short of delighted to hear from you!

As an aside, I have this week bitten the proverbial bullet and decided to follow my Bologna Illustrators Exhibition submission to Italy at the end of March for the Bologna Children’s Book Fair http://www.bookfair.bolognafiere.it/en – I am already feeling a little woozy just thinking of it (and no, I’m not still on the 11 a.m. G&Ts…), but thankfully this nausea is mitigated by a (gradually) burgeoning excitement at the prospect of circulating amidst/in close proximity to the brightest and best of the industry’s innovators. And a frivolous hope that I can assimilate even a few atoms of the swirling maelstrom of talent within that giddying Fair structure to inspire progress and bolster spirits in the months (and years) beyond… If only I had paid more attention to elements of conversational Italian other than ‘a large glass of white wine, please’ and ‘yes, three scoops of limoncello gelato, thank you’ (I find ‘Aaaaargh!!!’ in the face of a perilously fast scooter is the same in most languages…) *sigh*.

‘Til next time, then, I hope you all have a quite wondrous rest-of-week and a truly fabulous weekend!

AP x.

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About illustratedbyamanda

Illustrator and time-fritterer extraordinaire
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