With a heritage that stretches back over 100 years, Hallmark is a household name. Three BA (Hons) Illustration students were awarded placements at the iconic Hallmark studio for two weeks, to learn how to design for every occasion.
Worldwide, Hallmark has over 27,000 employees with their creative staff consisting of around 800 artists, designers, stylists, writers, editors, and photographers. Together, they generate more than 19,000 greeting cards, gifts and related products per year. Producing work with some of the worlds most recognisable brands, including Disney, Marvel, Lucasfilm and Dreamworks, the company has a reputation for being industry leaders in the world of greetings cards and gifts.
How did you get the opportunity for the placement?
Adam: Representatives from Hallmark came to the college and assigned us a two-week task to design a style guide for Disney themed greeting cards and wrapping paper, with the specific aim to appeal to the young adult market as they felt it was an audience they wanted to offer more to. We had a range of franchises to choose from and at the end of the two weeks we all displayed our style guides on our desks and they selected the best ones. I was even highlighted as the standard expected by Hallmark which was a great honour!
Dominique: Hallmark had just renewed their contract with Disney, so our subject matter could range from Disney princesses and Pixar characters to Marvel and the Star Wars universes. We produced in-depth style guides to show to the Hallmark representatives on deadline day and they chose a shortlist of students to give feedback to and award the placements.
What was your average day like?
Dominique: In order to have artwork to play with, when mocking-up the cards and wrapping paper designs, we spent the first week drawing and painting like crazy so we had plenty of material to work with.
Danielle: During the day, members of the team would come and talk through our work and give art direction and advice.
Adam: We even had our own desk space in their studio which was full of artists producing unique cards for all occasions. We had our own table, mac, cutting mat and drawers.
Dominique: Then the last few days were spent printing and putting together the work we had produced and adding all of the finishing touches such as glitter, foil, ribbons and cords.
What was a highlight of your placement?
Adam: The highlight for me was the ability to experiment with the foiling machines they had. This basically allowed us to take our card designs and make any element of them into any type of foil we liked and they were perfectly shaped to the part of the image you selected. I was able to give my superhero card shiny red laser beams that made the design jump out at you from across the room!
Danielle: I agree, the highlight for me was also learning their techniques for foiling, as that’s something I'd never done before.
Dominique: For me, it was being able to produce work based on Warner Bros franchises, specifically Justice League and the Harry Potter Universe, and being able to see the work come to life and look professional after the mock-up process. Unfortunately, we're not able to share the work that we produced during our internship until it's used by Hallmark.
And what was the biggest challenge?
Danielle: The biggest challenge for me was trying to make my best work in a short amount of time, and also working with a medium that I wasn't 100% used to. I am most confident with watercolour and painting, but without those materials I focused on digital drawing.
Dominique: I also found the time restriction to be the biggest challenge. I am very meticulous with my drawings and can spend hours working on them but with less than two weeks to complete the projects, our time was very limited. I pushed myself to reach the deadline and finish all the work I set out to do, and I am very proud of the outcome.
Adam: The biggest challenge for me was producing the same ‘Hallmark standard’ of work I was praised for with such a short deadline. We had a range of superheroes to choose from but we only had a week to do each, so two weeks for two varieties of cards and wrapping. I produced three style guides, which was more than I or my placement manager expected.
What did you learn that might influence your future work?
Adam: I learned about the types of cards that are most desirable to customers, that humour is very popular in this market, and that there are many different ways of saying Happy Birthday and Get Well Soon!
Danielle: This experience helped me to narrow down how I work best, so for me, I like to add as much texture to a piece as I can, and that I enjoy sketching and making lines physically on paper but I prefer colouring digitally.
Dominique: I enjoyed working in a shared studio environment and being able to work with the franchise team was very exciting. Producing movie artwork is definitely something I would like to pursue further in the future.