February 13 Creative Logo
 

bits

A bit of news, a bit of inspiration, a bit of new work... a bit random, a bit blogish. “bits” is where it all hangs out.

f13 Love Coupons on Momtrends blog

 

The Momtrends blog had a great write-up about Cardstore.com that features our Love Coupons collection as well as our sweet “cutie pie” design. Read all about it here.

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xoxoxo

 

We recently took a crafty detour to whip up some DIY Valentine ideas for an upcoming visit to View from the Bay. As we brainstormed various projects to share on the show, we wanted to be sure they used recycled materials or were otherwise kind to Mama Earth. And, of course, they needed to be zero-stress, super fun (for kids and adults), and totally affordable. Here’s a sneak peak at what you’ll see on the show (on February 5th), plus a little more detail in case you’re inspired to spread some Valentine love. Let us know if you do!

candy-gram





These sweet kraft envelopes (made out of grocery bags) are decorated using a nifty printing process you might remember from elementary school. The printing blocks are made from styrofoam. It’s a way to make something beautiful out of those troubling meat and veggie trays from the grocery store, since they can be hard to recycle. Like a potato print, the process imparts a naïve, spontaneous quality that we love—without the cruelty to potatoes! Plus, you get a little more printing area and, because the styrofoam is so much easier to carve, you can create more detailed designs. For detailed instructions and templates, click here.

polished gems



Have any long-neglected, half-empty bottles of nail polish lingering in your bathroom drawer or cabinet? Well, those colors are right on for Valentine’s Day! And their dazzling, lacquer finish turns simple shapes into jewel-like embellishments on little scraps of leftover card stock. Experiment with different methods to apply the polish (dotting, dripping, pouring, pushing) and keep your work small for best results. Please be kind to your brain cells: do this in a well-ventilated area and plan to make just a few, for your most precious Valentines.

valensigns


Here’s a novel e-Valentine idea. It starts with a low-key scavenger hunt where you’re looking for words and/or letters to spell out your particular message of love. Use your camera to snap signs and portions of signs. Look for the most interesting letterforms and a variety of media (neon, plastic, painted, wood, metal, stamped, etc.). You can go on a more leisurely “sign safari” and just snap away; come home and see what you can put together with your findings. Or come up with a few very specific phrases and go in search of your exact prey. Assemble your phrase in one jpg file using photo editing software and attach it to an email. Send us a copy, while you’re at it. We’d love to see what you’ve found!

When looking for signs and words, here are a couple things to keep in mind. It’s OK if the angle is a little tilted, or maybe you get some reflection off a shop-front window. That’s all part of the variety that makes this interesting. You just want to be sure the letters and words are readable. For example, signs where the letters are all bunched together don’t work so well, unless you can use the whole word.

And, hey! If you just don’t have time to do your own scavenger hunt, or you don’t have the software to put the photos together, we’ve assembled over 20 loveable messages; feel free to pick through our treasure trove and find just the right message for your Valentine. Click here to go to our entire collection of free, downloadable valensigns.

Happy February 14th, from february 13 creative!

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the beginning of the story

 

So, like a lot of other people, you might be wondering: "Why February 13?" Well, the short answer is: It's my birthday!
But it gets better than that.

About 10 years ago, I was working in the advertising department at Macy's. Actually—at the time this story takes place—I was not working, because I had a badly broken wrist and was pretty useless as a graphic designer. One day while I was out, February 13th rolled around, and all my co-workers gathered on the speaker phone to call me at home and wish me a happy birthday; they introduced me to a new designer who had just started in the group that week; they ate cake while I sat on my sofa in a Vicodin haze; they sang happy birthday; they caught me up on all the good office gossip. Suddenly the new girl, Pam, chimed in with this afterthought: "Oh... today is my birthday, too!" It was a perfect introduction to Pam... It's a quality that I can't quite put into words but it has something to do with spontaneity, zaniness, and coincidences that seem to be too good to be true (but in Pam's case, always are). It was the beginning of a wonderful friendship and work collaboration.

So… February 13th is also Pam's birthday AND the day that we met. Over the years, we dreamed of starting our own design studio and naming it after that momentous day. Finally, in 2008, we were getting closer to making that dream a reality. And then...

Pam introduced me to an acquaintance of hers, Amy—another fabulous artist and designer, similarly obsessed with greeting cards, stationery, and other pretty little printed things. We immediately clicked as a threesome. And although Amy's birthday is not on February 13th, it's about as close as you can get... February 11th. It was in the stars! In fact, since then, we've come to believe that Amy was probably due to arrive in the world on February 13th, but made her debut a couple days early (She's faster than Pam and I are at pretty much everything, so this theory makes perfect sense.)

So, in case you were wondering: "why February 13?", that's why. It's kind of what our motto—"celebrate every day"—is all about; every day of the year is special for someone, somewhere, for some reason… no matter how random a date it may be to everyone else. I love looking at these photos of us in our respective birth years, thinking of all the celebrating that lies ahead for us—not least of all, this joyous collaboration as partners in February 13 Creative!

postscript:
In January 2010, after a whirlwind 15 months, Amy decided to simplify her art licensing business and spend more time with her family. Sadly for February 13 Creative, this means she has parted ways with the studio. It was one of the true pleasures and honors of my career to work with Amy and watch her realize her potential as a licensing artist. She was a dedicated partner in every aspect of the development of this business and I've been heartbroken to see her go. At the same time, I really respect her desire to find a happy work/life balance, and I know she has a glorious creative future ahead of her, wherever her path may take her!

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Surtex prep takes off!

 

We kicked off our Surtex planning yesterday... 4 hours bursting with excitement and loads of ideas for our very first trade show as february 13 creative. Surtex happens in mid-May, in New York City, and is held in conjunction with the National Stationery Show, so it's a great opportunity to get our work in front of reps from social expression, textile, apparel, gift and home decor manufacturers (among others!). The goal is to develop partnerships with these manufacturers; we want them to license our art for use on their products so that one day soon you'll be able to buy, oh say... beautiful bed linens with Amy's poppies... or gorgeous gift wrap with Betsy's snowflakes... or a fabulous photo album with Pam's butterflies. Who knows?! We're excited to see where this leads and are busy creating lots of new art to debut at the show. I hope to post somewhat regularly as our plans take shape, and show some work in progress.
We had the always-highly-anticipated lunch portion of our meeting down the street at the new-ish Stable Cafe (xoxo). Here you see the tantalizing french press coffee and a tempting hint of their amazing lavender+sea salt shortbread cookie, which fueled lots of happy note-taking.

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our debut!

 

Seems like a great time to start our blog, since we have something big to celebrate: our television debut!

The show was View From the Bay, an afternoon talk show that airs live, daily on the ABC affiliate here in San Francisco. The appearance was arranged by our friends at cardstore.com and we're so thankful to them for the opportunity. The View people wanted me to talk about a few ideas for DIY, easy, affordable holiday cards, so we threw in a couple other projects and saved the best—cardstore.com—for last.Take a look at the clip and try to imagine the color of the cards being a whole lot prettier (They’re right about the camera draining color… my lips were a lot prettier than they look here, too.)

We spent about a week preparing for this tiny 5-minute-long segment, which seems absurdly out of proportion, but I know that I would have been a jittery mess without all that preparation. Pam and Amy were my creative genies behind the scenes and I’m thanking my lucky stars all over again to have them.

I could not have wished for a better show to introduce me to TV land. Everyone involved was so helpful and reassuring, especially my host, Lisa Quinn. The whole vibe of the show when you watch is totally welcoming, upbeat, helpful—and that’s how it feels on set.

For those of you who may be wanting just a little more detail than we could fit in our allotted five minutes, here are some more tips on the projects we featured.

simple but sophisticated collage cards

  • We love the stylish results we get from a really simple technique: use one basic shape repeated over and over again.
  • Cut your pieces from magazines and other papers (catalogs, old greeting cards, maps, maybe even some of your kids’ artwork!).
  • Look for images with large areas that are more or less one color but have some interesting texture and depth. Believe it or not, photo close-ups of food, clothing, carpeting, grass, trees can all be used to fantastic effect with this technique.
  • By limiting your palette to just one color family (e.g. pinks/reds/plums), you make the whole thing easier and it you gives you a really sophisticated look in the end.
  • You can cut most of the shapes shown here freehand. Or if you’re more persnickety, use things you find around the house as templates—coins are great for making perfect circles—or make a simple cardboard template for yourself. Different kinds of craft scissors and punches can create interesting shapes and edges as well.
  • For the base card, we recommend buying pre-cut and folded blank cards, to save yourself some hassle. There are lots of great colors and styles available at places like Paper Source and they often come with matching envelopes.
  • Once you have a whole bunch of your shapes cut out, you arrange them on your base card to your liking, then glue them in place. We definitely recommend glue sticks—especially the kind that comes in a thin, pen-like tube—it’s easy to apply, keeps the mess to a minimum and dries quickly and smoothly. You may want to have a pair of tweezers to handle really tiny pieces.
  • If you don’t want to make individual collage cards for everyone on your mailing list (a nice idea, but really, who has that kind of time?!), take one or more of your favorites down to your local photocopy place. Most now have scanning services and inexpensive but good quality digital printing services so you can get multiples of your favorite design really easily.
  • Remember, you can also use your collage to make a frame for a photo, or for your annual holiday letter!

photo booth card

  • This idea was inspired by those great old vintage photo booths. A lot of people like to send photo cards and this is a really unexpected way to do it.The photos are always just fun and spontaneous and, of course, everyone looks great in black and white!
  • You can find photo booths around the Bay Area and I'm sure in many other places around the globe (a quick Google search will turn up some interesting lists compiled by photo booth aficionados). Our favorites are at the Musee Mecanique, on Pier 45 here in SF. They have two booths (both are the old-school, black-and-white versions that we love) and the added advantage of an attendant on the premises in case the thing misbehaves).
  • This project has a bonus: a really fun activity in addition to a totally personal holiday greeting.
  • You can use simple signs (hand-made or computer-generated) to spell out our holiday message...maybe some props… take it all down to the photo booth and just snap away.
  • If you plan it very carefully, you might be able to get it all one take, but honestly, this is so much fun that we recommend taking several strips. The photos usually come four frames to a strip, and cost around $3 each. Then you can just pick and choose the frames you like best and then cut and rearrange them to form a full strip.
  • Make multiple copies on heavy-weight white card stock and cut to size. If you have your own scanner and a decent printer, you could make the copies yourself. Or just take it down to your favorite photocopy store, as we suggested above for the collage cards. Note: you may want to enlarge the final strip (via copier or printer settings) by 10-15%, to get a better fit in your envelope (see below).
  • The finished size is a little unusual, so you might be wondering what kind of envelope to use. We like the business-sized envelopes that close at end with a looping string (We got ours at Paper Source). It’s kind of like getting a photo from an old-fashioned photo lab. If it bugs you that the card seems lost within the envelope, you could fold it up inside a holiday note printed on letter size paper!
  • This card is featured in a fun new book that’s just out in stores now: “Merry Christmas From…”. (The book is full of fantastic card ideas, all made by the people who sent them. It’s a great source of inspiration for doing your own thing!)
  • You could do this every year and make it a tradition. It’s really fun to figure out how to fit into the booth as your family grows!

february 13 creative cards, on cardstore.com

  • Check out our coordinated collections for the holidays. Send a party invitation, photocard or greeting card, and thank you cards—all in the same style. It's like having your own, personal graphic designer!
  • Write your own message and add your own photos to any card design with cardstore.com’s easy-to-use online editing tools.
  • cardstore.com will even take care of the addressing, stamping and mailing for you, with no extra charge for the service. (Stamps are not included in the card price).
  • It’s an environmentally-friendly way to do printed greetings. They only print the quantity you need, so there are no leftover cards, and they are mailed directly to you or your recipients… no fossil fuels to get the cards or you to the store.

And last but not least, remember: it doesn’t necessarily have to happen in December! You could knock something out this weekend and have it in the mail before Thanksgiving. Or just give yourself a break until the week after Christmas and send out a New Year greeting instead!

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f13 Custom Christmas Card designs featured

 

A few of Betsy’s custom holiday card designs were featured in this sweet gift book, just out from Harper Collins: Merry Christmas From... 150 Christmas Cards You Wish You’d Received. (a nice side note: author Karen Robert is donating 50% of her proceeds from the sale of this book to The Smile Train, a charity that provides free surgery to children with cleft palates in the developing world).

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