Indie Designers Q&A: The Playful Indian

Published on: February 20, 2023

Meet Dina from The Playful Indian, the creative designer who’s spreading happiness through her fun card designs. Join us as we learn about what inspired Dina to setup The Playful Indian and what inspires her creative process in our latest independent designer Q&A. Plus, explore some of her brilliant designs below.

Introduce yourself…

Hi, I’m Dina. I design punny greeting cards and gifts such as mugs, coasters, stickers and art prints. I live in Stockport, Greater Manchester, and work from my office in Cheadle. I was working from home until lockdown when things got a little crazy and needed a bigger space to work from so I’ve been based in my office for about 2 years now. I started my business in 2011 but it’s always been alongside a full time job and it wasn’t until about 2 years ago I decided to give up the full time jobs and actually put my all into my business and see how it goes. I love that my work puts a smile on people’s faces because you never know what someone is going through and that little smile could make their day!

What are the challenges you face as an independent artist? And the joys?

Ah, there have been so many challenges over the years within my little business. From low sales and trying to make enough sales each month to keep going, stock/supplier issues and just general hurdles of changes you have to make and having to learn to wear all the hats that come with being a business person such as accounts and social media management to still staying inspired enough to create! The best thing about it is seeing people actually buy my designs and also the really sweet and kind messages people send because they’ve felt a connection or they just needed something that made them smile!

Describe your typical work day…

I don’t think I have a typical working day but I tend to arrive in the office at around 8-8.30am (I’m a morning person)! I will then answer any emails that have come through and also spend the morning printing and processing orders. I print some items from home such as mugs, coasters, tote bags but other items are ordered in, for example stickers, art prints and greeting cards. Once these are done I will usually have lunch and then go onto any admin tasks that need doing like website maintenance, social media posts, making tik toks/reels, photography etc or I will work on designing if I have any briefs or if there is a seasonal update. I will finish around 5ish most days.

What sort of cards do you love to design?

I LOVE designing cards for most themes. I like that it’s a challenge to think of puns that work to themes and it also keeps things fresh. I do struggle sometimes when it comes to inspiration but I find that sometimes, you just need to start drawing and you kind of get into a flow.

What are your favourite cards that you’ve designed & why?

I am really loving some of the recent cards I have designed for Funky Pigeon for Thinking of you / self-care week. They’re more along the lines of just reminding someone that you’re there for them and to keep going without being too soppy! Sending or giving a card to someone when they’re struggling with life or whatever struggles they may be having and making them smile might just be that extra strength they need to keep pushing through. I think also these mean a lot to me because of my personal struggle and I would have appreciated something like as a little reminder.

How did you get into greeting card design?

It started in 2011 when I left a full time job I was working in because I wasn’t enjoying it. The first card I ever designed was ‘You’re the chutney to my samosa’ which is still one of my most popular designs! When I started out there was a lack of modern Asian greeting cards and gifts and I wanted to fill this gap for my generation.

What’s your creative process?

I just start drawing. There’s a lot of scrap paper and scribbling and doodling involved. Sometimes I will get out my Surface Pro tablet and use Adobe Fresco and scribble digitally but there’s something just different about pen and paper doodling and seeing the mistakes possibly turn into a best seller! Once the scribbles and doodles are done, I will take a photo and put into Adobe Illustrator. I feel like this is the best programme for me as I can easily amend things if needed.

What or who inspires your work?

Usually food! I mean, it’s just one of those universal things that brings people together and unites everyone no matter what your background is, food will always make people happy. I also love creating motivational prints because I personally love a good positive and motivational quote and you never know when someone needs to hear it.

What do you like to do outside of work?

Outside of work enjoy going to the gym, listening to music, walking adventures and also just spending proper time catching up with friends – especially if there’s food involved!