As we continue our series getting to know the incredible independent designers who have reached the finals of the Henries awards, we’re excited to shine the spotlight on Natalie Alex Designs. You can find her bright and colourful designs across the Funky Pigeon website, and now we’re getting to hear more about what goes into Natalie’s design process and what inspired her to get into designing cards in the first place.
Natalie Alexander, Natalie Alex Designs
As an independent designer, Natalie Alexander’s passion for cards shines through in every one of her designs. Her creative and colourful approach to greeting cards creates beautiful cards that are designed to spread happiness to whoever receives them, perfect for birthdays, thank you messages, and every celebration you can think of! Don’t forget to check out some of her amazing designs after the questions below.
Congratulations on your awards news! With over 14,000 entries, how did you feel when you heard the news that your work is in the Finals?
Was this your first award nomination?
I was nominated for a Henries award last year with the Storybook collection but in the children’s category.
Tell us a bit about your Henries nominated range…
I love old-fashioned book covers with really intricate details and beautiful illustrations, so I wanted to use them as inspiration and create my own updated versions with sweet characters, bold colours and lots of detail.
I wanted them to be inclusive and challenge stereotypes. A princess riding off on a dragon, not being rescued, and little boy fairies instead of just girl fairies with all the characters having different skin colours. For my new designs this year I added Space and Dinosaur themed cards which are gender neutral instead of being aimed just towards boys. I really want to see a change in children’s cards that don’t limit kids and that they see themselves represented. I believe its these small things that count.
How did you become a greeting card designer?
I graduated in Graphic Design and started work as a packaging designer for a gift company in Canada. Over time I worked more and more on illustration projects and then licensed my artwork, eventually creating my own line of cards where I had full creative ownership. I work from a combination of a home office and coworking space in Leeds, Yorkshire.
Describe your typical work day…
Always coffee x 2, followed by checking emails and any wholesale orders that have come in overnight.
My days are so varied, sometimes I work only on designs, so I will paint, scan, draw etc. Other days is admin, catching up on emails and following up with stockists. I co-own The Better Trends Company which is a trend forecasting business, so my time is split between the two companies. I love not doing the same thing every day.
What’s your creative process?
I look at the upcoming trends for the year and see which resonate the most with me. I always create rough sketches of what I want the range to look like for 6-9 cards and the general colour palette. I use a combination of drawing, painting and procreate for my cards depending on the range.
What are the challenges you face as an independent artist? And the joys?
There are definitely challenges to having your own business. Work-life balance is difficult to attain because there are so many things to juggle and I often end up working late in to the night. I also do this because I have two young children and work when they are snuggled up in bed so I don’t miss out on time with them too. The highlights do outweigh the challenges, I have creative freedom and I love my customers and stockists so much. I have gained so many lovely relationships with my stockists and they are so supportive of me and my business.
If you had one piece of advice for a fellow artist, what would it be?
Find an accountability buddy who has their own business too! It’s invaluable.