How to get into the greeting card industry

May 13, 2021 | GCA Events, Resources for School & College

The GCA meet students – the next generation of card designers!

The UK greeting card industry thrives because of the talent, innovation and enthusiasm of a wide range of people all with very different skill-sets.

To continue to grow as an industry, and maintain our world leading position, we are always looking to recruit the next generation of greeting card designers, writers, publishers, retailers and entrepreneurs who share our love of cards.

The GCA was delighted to accept the invitation of Dr Thomas Cuschieri, Senior Lecturer in Illustration & Graphic Design, School of Creative Arts University of Hertfordshire, to talk to students about the card industry.

The GCA team was GCA CEO Amanda Fergusson, vice-president Chris Bryan from card publisher Second Nature, Adriana Lovesy GCA Council Member and owner of Mrs Lovesy, and Grace Elphinstone from GCA member Carte Blanche.

Chris Bryan, Thom Cuschieri, Adrian Lovesy, Amanda Fergusson and Grace Elphinstone

Different ways of entering the card market

The GCA spoke to second and final year illustration students about our industry, giving them some background on different card businesses and the ways they could join our industry.

Amanda Fergusson, GCA CEO, shared some interesting facts and statistics about the UK industry. The presentation then continued with stories from three very different businesses, Chris Bryan, vice president of the GCA, spoke about the business he works for, Second Nature. Chris talked about how the business had started and grown to the size it is today, employing a team of 50 members of staff.

Adriana Lovesy, an artist who owns her own business and also sits on the GCA Council, spoke about her journey to decide to set up her own business and build the Mrs Lovesy brand. Adriana also gave some tips for artists wishing to succeed in greeting card design.

Grace Elphinstone, Head of Marketing at Carte Blanche, spoke about the company’s journey from just six cards in 1987 to the well -know brand it is today, and also talked about some of the artists who work as part of Carte Blanche’s team.

Adriana Lovesy, Mrs Lovsey and GCA council member, and Grace Elphinstone, Carte Blanche and GCA member, share their top tips

The stories and experiences shared gave the students an insight into three very different businesses operating in our industry, and examples of ways they too could join the greeting card industry.

Student Brief

The GCA team left the students at University of Hertfordshire with a brief to design a card!

A group of GCA members joined together to provide a brief for the students to design a Thinking of You card. Retailer House of Cards, printer Loxleys, envelope manufacturer Enveco, Max Publishing (owners of PGLive, Progressive Greetings magazine, and the Henries), and Briffa specialist creative lawyers, all contributed to a comprehensive brief (see Members’ Library for more details).

The three winning designers will have their cards printed by Loxleys, packaged in 6’s with Enveco envelopes and sent to the students, who can sell them, or use for their portfolios and for family and friends. All 3 winners will be invited to attend PGLive and have their design featured in Progressive Greetings Worldwide Magazine.

The overall winner will also have the opportunity to sell his or her design to Miles Robinson,  joint owner of House of Cards, to be sold in in his stores for Thinking of You Week in September.

What the Students thought!

Thomas Bryan, student rep and son of Chris, shared student feedback on the GCA team’s presentation:

“The presentation was an amazing insight into the greeting card industry and was very engaging. Unlike other external lectures, where companies tend to promote themselves, this lecture allowed us to see not only how different companies within the industry started out but also how they’ve grown”, said Thomas,

“This neatly tied into the section regarding the different paths into the industry you can take as an illustrator, and again was both refreshing and enlightening as there was no corporate agenda, just a very simple explanation of the options”.

“The brief was fantastic, leaving us all really excited as we haven’t had an opportunity like this before. It genuinely felt like a real opportunity for us rather than being used as a free/cheap resource for creative ideas. Many thanks to those who made it possible and for the opportunity to help out the future generation of the creative world!” finished Thomas.

Thomas Bryan shares student feedback with Dad Chris, Amanda and Adriana


The winners were selected by a panel of judges from the Greetings Card Association. The Judging panel was

  • Chris Bryan, Second Nature and GCA vice-president
  • Adriana Lovesy, of Mrs Lovesy and GCA Council Member
  • Amanda Fergusson, CEO GCA
  • Grace Elphinstone, Carte Blanche
  • Miles Robinson, House of Cards
  • Jakki Brown, Max Publishing, GCA Council Member
  • Alice Buck, Loxley’s

The Winners!

The students were given a month to design their entries, then, after lots of deliberation, the results were announced to the students, and in the greeting card industry trade press and on social media.

The standard of student entries was very high, the stories behind their cards were heart-warming some giving a particularly poignant insight into the impact of the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown.

The winning design (below) was from Joana Dionísio, who received lots of positive comments from the judges:

“Effortlessly stylish! The use of colour and pattern is gorgeous, I particularly love the incorporation of the hands into the graphics, the little details in this piece are so aesthetically pleasing”.

“Hugs are set to be a trend this year and love the fact the student has picked up on this with a card that I think is commercial in its appeal. I like the clever use of hands and hugs within the typography”

Joana was delighted “Thank you so much again for the initiative and for the amazing feedback on the designs, it was an amazing brief to work on!”

Joana Dionisio’s winning design

Runners up were Anna Zelasko and Ally Williams, both of whom produced designs that the judges also felt were very commercial.

Anna remarked on how grateful she’d been for this opportunity “….it was a really lovely experience! I am delighted to have been a part of it and chosen as one of the runner ups.”

Ally, who was “…absolutely thrilled that the judges found my design ‘heartwarming’ and the fact that it resonates with others is a wonderful feeling”.

Chris Bryan and Amanda Fergusson join Dr Thom Cuschieri to tell finalists Joana, Ally and Anna the good news

Getting involved

The GCA is keen to talk to more students, so please get in touch and join in:

For teachers, lecturers and students

If you are a school, college or University with students who could be interested in a career in our industry, please see the ‘Handout of Schools and Colleges’ below which has lots of useful links and information.

If you teach younger children and are interested in using greeting cards in lessons please see our Resources for School and College. Also we are always keen to share the positive benefits communicating through sending and receiving cards so please get in touch.

We have members across the country, use our Members’ Directory to find greeting card publishers in your area if you are keen to link up with a local company. Alternatively contact the GCA at and we will be able to put you in touch with someone and help arrange a similar presentation.

Further Information

The GCA is keen to encourage everyone in our industry to connect with the next generation.

Maybe visit your children’s school, former/local colleges or University and talk about our industry to the next generation of greeting card senders!

Visit the GCA members’ library and watch our presentation to the students at Herts Uni, and use find the toolkit to help you do this. The toolkit includes a copy of the presentation delivered to Herts Uni students and our brief. Use these and amend as necessary, adding your business story and own brief.

Do contact the GCA if we can help at

Reminding the next generation about the connection created by sending and receiving a card, and encouraging students to think about a career in our industry, will ensure the UK card industry continues to grow and flourish.

Amanda Fergusson, GCA CEO & Miles Robinson of House of Cards


GCA Handout for School and Colleges Feb 2021
File size: 185kB

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