A Lesson in Busyness
I have a new stamp...a cling background stamp from Hero Arts called Looped Flower Pattern. It came with the new catalog. I love the stamp, but the catalog leaves a tad to be desired. More on the catalog below.
Large background stamps seem a bit antithetical to clean-and-simple design. They take up all that glorious white space, after all. But when used properly, they can add interest to a card without making it fussy or busy. Like this:
For the above card, I paired the Looped Flower Pattern with a large sentiment from A Muse. Three white layers keep the design fresh and light, and adding the light green color to the sentiment links the two stamped layers visually. This works.
For the next card, I changed the orientation to accommodate a vertical sentiment from Papertrey's Beautiful Blessings and added a touch of bling to emphasize the key word and bring blue to the sentiment. The sentiment isn't as clean and simple as the Happy Birthday one, and that creates a bit more busyness on the card. The clean font and straight lines work well with the curves of the background, though.
The final card today crosses my personal line in the sand as being too busy, although I don't think there's anything else wrong with it. The sentiment is from Hero Arts' Dictionary Greetings. The focal point is very busy...lots of little words! I tried to simplify it by highlighting three bold words with lavender, and that's certainly better than the unhighlighted version, but it's still too busy for my taste.
|A Bit Too Busy|
What saves it, sort of, is the contrast between the very linear text and the curvy background.
Lines love curves.
And don't you forget it.
Anyway, whether or not you like busy cards is more a matter of taste than anything else. I prefer cleaner cards with more white space and very strong focal points. Other people want to look at more stuff. It's all good.
The 2013 Hero Arts Catalog
So you know, I don't receive any free stuff or compensation from Hero Arts. I'm just a long-time customer offering her free and completely personal opinion for what it's worth, which may not be much at all, but it's my blog so here goes.
The Hero Arts catalog is something of a holiday tradition with me. Every year, I buy the new catalog and eagerly peruse it during the holiday break, not just for the new stamps but also for the sample cards, which are always so fun and colorful at a very gray time of year. Unfortunately, as with some other stamp catalogs, every year, the Hero Arts catalog gets smaller, and I find myself feeling cheated. In 2008, it was 90 pages. This year, it's 64 pages...a ten-page drop from 2012.
The price is still $10.
I miss the old catalog value. The 2008 catalog is loaded with tons of sample cards with plenty of cool layouts and ideas--so cool that I still have it even after tossing lots of other companies' old catalogs-- but the 2013 catalog is pretty much just a catalog, with an occasional photo of a card or tag widely scattered throughout. I probably won't keep it past a year.
There's a $3 Card Gallery that I got for "free"...but it's just a four-page, single-fold pamphlet. If I'd paid $3 for it, I'd be upset.
I understand that Hero, like most other stamp companies, is relying more and more on the interwebs for marketing. With all the blogs promoting Hero Arts, it's certainly easy to find inspiration without bothering to look at the catalog. But I perused the new stamps on Ellen Hutson's website (which is a lovely website, by the way) weeks ago, and found that an annoyingly impersonal substitute for the catalog. Ellen sells the stamps (and that's all I expect from her), but Hero should love them and package the catalog in such a way that the love shows.
I miss the old catalogs. I miss the love.
For a full disclaimer, I should note that before children, I worked in marketing and coordinated production of many, many print pieces, brochures, and books. There's a value to beautifully produced print pieces that can actually be quantified, but the world is changing and clearly Hero Arts is following the times. It just makes me sad.
As for the new line of Hero Arts stamps, they're better than last year, but I miss the size indicators in previous catalogs. When stamps were shown at 60%, the old catalogs said so. This one does not, so you're left wondering how big they really are, especially if you're a new customer. That said, the whole line seems fresher to me, yet still clearly Hero Arts. There's some genuinely new stuff, along with some rehashed decade-old stamps, and it all works great together.
Which just goes to show that Hero's designers make stamps that stand the test of time and still seem fresh and fun and appealing. No complaints there.
Now, if they'll just give me an old-style, more inspiring catalog next year, one that I'll want to keep for years to come, I'll have nothing to complain about at all.