As I detailed here, the brand new gift card range I designed in 2016 is one of my very proudest pieces of work. With the then existing gift cards in shops being either tired, mismatched, outdated, or all three, we decided to wipe the slate clean, re-invent the branding and launch twelve entirely new cards.
We reprinted the range this year with a few additions:
...Not a great photo. But I think we've made a range I still love even better.
Our previous Special Edition cards (by Chris Riddell and Coralie Bickford-Smith respectively) were huge sellers so we decided to add two more such editions to the range. Lauren Child was a no-brainer as the new Children's Laureate replacing Riddell.
Waterstones gift cards have featured the work of Lauren Child before. We've had at least one Charlie and Lola card and I believe Clarice Bean on another. The difference between this new card and those old ones illustrates (lol) the difference between the approach I took in relaunching the range. Before my time they were very publisher-led, vehicles for artwork that tied into franchises. But my feeling (in agreement with other parties working on the project) was that this was a little wrong-headed. Tying the imagery into specific characters and IPs defeats a large part of the object of gift cards: people often buy the things because they're not sure of the specific book tastes of the recipient.
So my rule is that if a card features a specific character or franchise the imagery should also be appealing independently of that reference. I chose Lauren Child's cover artwork from Penguin's anniversary edition of The Secret Garden because it's an almost archetypical image of children's literature, whether or not you recognise the specific context. And also because The Secret Garden is the best.
Same thing for Joe McLaren's Librarian image: it's a popular character from a popular series. But also it's a picture of an orangutan reading amongst bookshelves. And my personal devotion to Discworld and indeed McLaren's work had nothing to do with it (actually I was very well-behaved, presenting a range of shortlisted possibilities, but McLaren's Librarian was everyone's first choice.)
One of the smallish things I'm proud of with the gift card range is that we print the name of the illustrators we feature on Special Editions loud and proud on the front of the card carrier. It might not seem like much but there's a real problem in the book industry of disregarding the work of illustrators and designers even while heavily relying on their imagery.
The remaining two images above are of my own design.
The paper flowers replaces the previous 'blossom' design as our 'generic/feminine' option. Not much to say with such a simple design except that I like it better, and I think it does the job very well.
The other of my new designs doesn't replace anything, it's an addition - a new 'generic' card since they are our biggest sellers. ('Generic' meaning the most all-purpose, straight-forward designs where we use a central logo on the card instead of any message).
I'm very fond of this design, partly because it features the couple who have become kind of mascots of my Waterstones work. They appeared in my Autumn posters for 2015 (which are, in fact, hanging in the window of the shop they are about to enter) and are about to go online in the Christmas minisite work I have been doing. Love those guys.