Stationery and product designer Erin McManness launched a greeting card line called Paper Raven in 2014 among the magnolia and peach trees of Atlanta, Georgia. Today, her stylish pen-to-paper designs include fabric and home décor as well as the greeting cards that put Paper Raven on the map.
“I’ve always loved to draw and I knew at some point I wanted to go into business for myself,” McManness said. “When I finally figured out how to make the two mesh by focusing on greeting cards, I knew I was on my way.” To promote the new line, Erin created a catalog that could double as a lookbook to help tell the Paper Raven story and sell the brand.
“I wanted prospective retailers to sense the quality of my line the minute they were introduced to it,” she said. McManness knew that she needed them to feel the difference the minute they picked up the catalog, breaking through a crowded marketplace. “And, because I was a small business starting out,” she continued, “pricing was really important.”
“Nature is my muse,” McManness said. “I love to go on hikes with my dog and spend time gathering inspiration for my designs outdoors.” For Erin, nature is a positive influence where she goes to find her creative spark.
“I find higher meaning in nature, in its symmetry and cyclical nature and I try to bring that into my artwork,” she says. It shows in the organic florals, intricate patterns, and flowing symmetry that fill page after page of her sketchbook and catalog lookbook.
Inking in the Details
“I start every design the same way,” McManness says. “With my sketchbook, pencil and pen.” Once she has it down in black and white, she layers in the color with watercolor and ink, then finalizes the piece in Photoshop.
“Believe it or not, I always have an idea of the final piece in my head,” she says. “That’s true of every piece I create.” Case in point, Paper Raven’s card-sized catalog features McManness’ best-selling print, Night Floral. “I drew the pattern, cut it up, and reordered it. I knew from the beginning that I wanted a dark background so the colors would pop. An uncoated, 80lb. stock gave it a vintage vibe,” she details.
She went on to say, “Inside, my line sheets structure the pagination so love and friendship cards were grouped together, followed by thank you notes, birthday cards, wrapping paper, boxed sets, and art prints.” McManness considered a pace for the catalog that would make Paper Raven products easy to view and buy.
Greeting the Future
“It’s been five years since I took on the business full time and there’s been a lot of growth,” said McManness. Licensing and product collaborations are taking up more and more time, but the catalog remains a key part of the Paper Raven offering. “After all, we are all about paper here.”