The Maximalist Revolution

Tottering up the aisles of the recent Top Drawer and Spring Fair shows, packed with dreamy new product for 2023, Gale Astley, greetings industry journalist, product photographer and promo filmmaker, shares a taster of the first of a trio of delicious 2023 design trends on greeting cards spotted at the trade fairs.

Pictured top: The ‘scene setter’ for this trend is HotFoils from Cath Tate Cards. Greeting cards are bold, foiled and pack a punch with different coloured foils and a 1970’s vibe. 

Blazing with rebellion against the background of political and social unrest, 60s and 70s musicians Marc Bolan, Elton John, Bowie, Kiss and many other flashy fashionistas in the music world, wore larger than life outfits, ensuring they catapulted into the outrageous hall of fashion fame with their audacious, eye-catching statement of self-expression. Not yet wearing faux fur or a feather boa, greeting cards are also stealing the limelight on the stage of the maximalist trend this year, breaking the rules and grabbing attention in an excess and extravagance of bold colours, patterns, textures and foil finishes to flaunt highly decorative designs dripping with a sense of luxury and joy.

With its roots in the 1960s and 70s, maximalism is a playful and experimental style, a response from designers and artists who sought to break away from the minimalist, sleek aesthetics that dominated the mid-20th century, and, influenced by the countercultural movements of the time such as the hippie and psychedelic cultures, celebrated individuality and self-expression. Graphic designers began to incorporate more hand-drawn elements and experiment with different techniques, such as collage, while fashion designers celebrated playful extravagance with beautifully bizarre couture; both fizzed with the anarchic ambition to overturn and make a stand against the current status quo.

In the below group are: Icka Print, which pushes maximalism to the max! Next up, Bold fonts and joyful messages from Max Made Me Do It; A bold and beautiful Mahin Hussain Accessories design; Bursting with colour, Bejewelled from Illustrated By Charlie; Made of Magic & Grateful from The Sunshine Bindery sends a burst of maximalist energy; Apple & Clover’s golden and rippling Botanicals collection.

Layers of retina searing hues mixed with bursts of bold and clashing motifs from different eras, topped with a gutsy cherry of dazzling fonts and spectacular foiling, sunshades are required to gaze at the vivacious card designs exploding in maximalist energy this year in a joyful response to world despair and the economic dark clouds of recent years, and, in their own way, stylistically subverting convention. “It’s really interesting to see that maximalism and bright, bold colours are so on trend right now, and I can’t help but feel as though this might be reflective of the current climate in that we’re all just trying to find a small escape from the ‘doom and gloom’ of the world. I think we’re all feeling in need of a morale boost, and whilst it won’t change the world, maybe a cheery card from a friend goes much further than you might think”, believes Charlie Lambert, founder of Illustrated By Charlie.

With life affirming captions such as Nothing Short of Incredible, denoting a big maximalist energy that celebrates living loudly and chasing your dreams, and Made of Magic & Grateful sending out a burst of encouragement, The Sunshine Bindery is a publisher whose ranges are reaching out to the max in vivid, joyful colours and warm, uplifting tones with a hint of folk art inspiration. “There is this deep-seated need for connection, creativity, and vibrancy in our communities at the moment, especially after the past few years of separation”, feels Mell Oliver, founder and chief joy maker for the company. “Bursts of bright colours, fun illustrative details and bold fonts, while being coupled with positive messaging, can offer a beautiful uplifting bubble of joy to our days, which is so needed right now!”

Hot foiling in intense electric colours and holographic reflective surfaces play a shimmering part in in the maximalism trend on cards this year. Possibly a Y2K retro throwback from the Noughties, a time of shiny metallic technological advancements such as CDs, smartphones and laptops, the flamboyant foiling ultimately adds a jubilant party glow-up to designs. “There’s been a big trend for all things sparkly in the fashion world, so it’s only natural that it would filter down to greeting cards. With the cost of living going up, the Ukrainian war and general media gloom, people just want a bit of sparkle in their life. Who doesn’t like a bit of sparkle!”, states Jo Hawkins, founder of Apple & Clover, whose Botanicals collection, inspired by the natural world and its beautiful flowers, foliage and wildlife, draws you in to look further with its beautiful embossed gold foil detailing that shimmers like rippling water around the border of each card.

“Personally I love to experiment with different print finishes and effects that I haven’t seen before. Our Katie Made That collection uses contemporary typography in glittery foils that really catch the light and helps to reinforce the celebratory sentiments. There are definitely some strong 90’s trends happening in fashion and interiors, as well as greeting cards, at the moment though”, says Sarah Jackson, director of Stormy Knight. “We have a lot of collections that use hot foiling and some of them really stand out due to the different foils. Our latest collection with Eleonora Arosio uses six different coloured foils, from iridescent to hot pink, and are combined with playful designs that include some cult Nineties and Noughties pop-culture references.”

Eleonora Arosio’s simple designs from Stormy Knight’s Love Lines range blaze with holographic and electric hued foiling.

On the maximalism trend exploding onto cards, Mell from The Sunshine Bindery concludes: “People are craving more authentic ways to express their feelings, and as an artist, I absolutely love encouraging others to connect more deeply with each other. Joy and creativity is a huge part of my ‘why’ behind my illustrations, and spreading more colour and vibrancy in the world can only be a positive thing in my mind.”


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