10.04.2011

Carlton Cards



Sarah Velasco: For readers that do not know, what is Carlton Cards?
Carlton Cards Canada is a subsidiary of American Greetings Corporation with corporate headquarters located in Mississauga, Ontario.  Our greeting cards are found under the brand names of Carlton Cards, American Greetings, Gibson, Papyrus, Recycled Paper Greetings, Tender Thoughts and, for French-speaking consumers Entre Nous and Tout en Tendresse and are available in department and grocery stores, mass merchandisers, drug stores, card shops and other retail outlets nationwide.  American Greetings Corporation, located in Cleveland, Ohio, is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of social expression products.  
Carlton Cards was founded by Harry Harshman in 1920 with offices located on Spadina Avenue near Dundas Street in Toronto, Ontario.  The company continued to grow and in 1956 Carlton Cards was purchased by American Greetings of Cleveland, Ohio.  In 1968 Carlton Cards expanded into the production of gift wrap and packaging and in 1972, we launched candle manufacturing.  Over the years Carlton Cards has introduced iconic characters such as Holly Hobbie, Strawberry Shortcake and Carebears which are loved by young and old all around the world. In 2009, American Greetings acquired Recycled Paper Greetings, known for humourous and alternative cards and the wholesale division of Papyrus Greeting Cards.  We have continued to bring unprecedented freshness and innovation for every holiday and major occasion to help Canadians express love and friendship and share smiles and laughter.  
For more information, please visit our website at carltoncards.ca or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Lynne Shlonsky, the senior art director for the New Product Concepts team at American Greetings. 

Sarah Velasco: As a greeting card designer, what does your job entail?    
Lynne Shlonsky: I’m the senior art director for the New Product Concepts area of American Greetings.  Our department is responsible for concepting and creating innovative “surprise and delight” product, most of which involves cards that dance, sing, light up, bounce, talk, pop up, play music and spin around.  Amazing cards- they’re interactive, unexpected and highly entertaining.  I’m privileged to work with a team of super creative conceptors, designers, and writers, as well as business and manufacturing partners, and we are constantly pushing the boundaries of greeting card design.                                                                
Sarah Velasco: What is the process of designing cards?
Lynne Shlonsky: We do blue sky brainstorming to share trends and ideas that we feel could be translated into compelling product.  Technology is a key ingredient for our particular product so we, and our business team partners, are constantly scouring the globe for new, adaptable technologies that fit with or inspire our creative vision.
We work primarily on birthday and seasonal product so once we have an idea of the technology we’d like to employ, we begin concepting specific situations that will best showcase the technology.  For example, if a tiny motor inside a card can make part of that card move up and down, we imagine fun, silly, even outrageous situations that could be depicted.  Once this card direction is established, our editorial and design teams start shaping the copy and design look.  We review a rough mock- up and, if we love it, we create the final art and, if called for, the final audio files.
At the same time, our tech team partners are finalizing all the manufacturing specifications for the card so it will be produced flawlessly.  We are constantly reviewing and tweaking the card throughout the development process to ensure it’s aligned with our original vision or being improved by enhancements from our tech team.
Sarah Velasco: Has your style evolved since you started?
Lynne Shlonsky: Certainly.Part of my job is to help ensure that our products are reflecting the latest design and social trends.  We observe, research, travel, and collaborate with other creative and business thought agents to help us predict where trends are heading.  We often tap popular culture to influence the look and copy tone of a card.  One of the best things about the design field is that it is ever changing.
Sarah Velasco: How did you get into this business?
Lynne Shlonsky:I studied graphic design and business in college and knew I wanted to do work that was about creativity, design, and problem solving.  I was recruited by American Greetings directly out of Miami University in Oxford, OH and started as a Line Designer, designing humor cards and conventional birthday cards as well as seasonal lines of cards for occasions such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter, and Christmas.  I also led a trend group and worked on corporate projects such as organizing our Spring Fine Art Show. I was interested in management and was promoted to Director of Creative Recruitment, and enjoyed several years traveling to different art schools and interviewing and hiring talented artists, writers, photographers and graphic designers for our Creative Studios. I eventually returned to product development as a Creative Director for our Stationery and Calendar lines.  I stepped out of full time employment when our children were born and took on non-stop freelance projects for American Greetings.  I art directed licensing product and style guides, worked on new product development, and was lead merchant and creative director overseeing the launch of a new upscale retail brand and pilot store.  Less than a year ago, I returned to a full time position in our New Product Concepts area.  It’s been wonderful having so many exciting and diverse opportunities all within one company.
Sarah Velasco: What is your inspiration within your designs?
Lynne Shlonsky: I’m inspired by amazing talent from the past, clever young illustrators, great graphic design (stellar problem solving), and thought provoking or highly entertaining communication in any form. Finding the perfect solution to the challenge at hand is very inspiring. I’m also inspired by the idea that it’s our job to make innovative product and ensure our customer is utterly surprised and delighted.
Sarah Velasco: How would you describe your style?
Lynne Shlonsky: In New Product Concepts, we create a range of product from sweet to silly, beautiful to bawdy, and cute to cutting edge.We think about ALL our customers and strive to create compelling products across a range of styles and techniques. Overall, our product has a modern, relevant feel and speaks to all the ways our consumer expresses herself.
Sarah Velasco: Are there any upcoming designs/ collections you'd like to inform readers about?
Lynne Shlonsky: One of my favorite recent product launches is an innovative sound concept called “Let Me Out”.  Each card in this hilarious collection features a fun photo 360 degree die-cut paper card stuck inside a corresponding photo “base.”  When the card is pulled out of the “base” a surprise sound is triggered.  For example, one card depicts a cute photo of a gnome stuck in a lush green lawn.  When you pull the gnome from the lawn, he sings a funny version of happy birthday like only a gnome could.  The line is really quirky and fun.  
We have so many amazing things in the works, it’s super exciting when I can finally go to the store and buy them for my family and friends!







Yakety Yaks™
"Featuring innovative music and motion technology that allows each googley-eyed Yak to share a hilarious original song, the latest cards have updated the popular formula with all-new characters. In addition to favourites like Hamburger and Cupcake, this year’s class of Yaks includes everything from Beans and Cookie Jar to Phone, and the sure-to-be adored, Underpants."
Hamburger - There is motion and music. The top of the hamburger bun moves up and down, and the eyes roll. This card is funny and I'd recommend this for most ages. I tried this card before reading the description and I am so surprised at the advanced technology they have been able to bring to cards. It's so delightful.
Toilet:This card is so hilarious, with the eyes rolling, toilet seat moving up and down, and fake burp at the end of the music. A great card for getting a friend to laugh on their birthday.
They provide lyrics at the back of the card as well. Such a terrific invention.



WHOOAAAH WISHES ™ 



"Experience a whole new kind of technology card with the Whooaaah Wishes card collection. This innovative telescoping card extends a regular sized greeting card into a fun displayable keepsake. The cards extend up to four times their original size and feature corresponding sound or music when the card is pulled out of the base. Fun birthday themes include princesses, horses, trains and flowers."
Such perfect cards for a little girl! I can just imagine how much my 6 year old cousin will love this especially because she is in the barbie stage. It's a really hands-on and personal experience because the recipient (child) has to pull the card all the way out themselves. It's a fun way for them to have to open the card. They'll get excited and wonder what they'll see and hear. This is a great piece of memorabilia, a keepsake item.



Let Me Out "Each card in this bright and colourful collection features a 360 die-cut paper card placed inside a corresponding base. When the card is pulled out of the base, a surprise sound is triggered. Characters include a gnome inside of a garden, a squirrel in a bag of peanuts, a monkey in a pile of bananas and a kitten resting in a basket of yarn"
Gnome – I really like the idea of gnome peaking out of the grass. These cards really get you excited because you know something is going to happen, but you're not sure what it does. This card is incredibly jolly and has a nice funny tune. Its cute how the gnome is where you write the birthday wishes. 
Squirrel in a bag of peanuts – I am so amused by these cards! The squirrel is absolutely adorable and when you pull it out of the peanut box the noise it makes is so cute. The squirrel itself is the card where you write what you like to the recipient.
These are such great inventions and a terrific addition to any gift. You can purchase these in-stores now.