Animals provided endless inspiration for greeting card manufacturers, who use images of our two, four, six or eight-legged friends on designs ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous, crossing the range from humour through to fine art and photography.
Whatever the occasion, it can pretty much always be improved by a few words of encouragement from a horse, disdainful glance from a cat, friendly hello from a specific breed of dog or fluttering of a parrot’s wings.
Not content with the vast range of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish or insects roaming the earth, many publishers have branched out further into the realms of myth and legend, where dragons and unicorns can fly freely across the illustrator’s page.
One fledgling publisher who does a superb line in funky fantasy cards is the lovely Deckled Edge, which originally set out with a herd of horses and ponies before spreading their wings into Pegasus and unicorns.
Meanwhile the original farmyard menagerie of The Little Bells – whose distinctive animal characters could already be found in a variety of humorous settings and situations – has been extended into the circus and a feel-good wigwam for special occasions.
Also exhibiting at Harrogate was one of our favourite greeting card artists, Tony Fernandes, who presented two fabulous new ranges, one featuring characterful dogs and the second cheeky parrots. More along fine art lines than many of Tony’s original cartoon collections, both new ranges combine exquisite artistic details with the ironic and whimsical humour that he’s always conveyed so well.
Fairy tale creatures have also been stepping through portals into giftware, especially the fluffy realm of plush, a staple of most card and gift shops. While bug-eyed beasties of indeterminate origin abound in the market, some plush manufacturers are keeping things real by sticking to dragons as an extension to their bear staples.
Kaycee Bears is a good case in point, a company that for 25 years has supplied premium plush gifts and toys that are all handmade in the UK from start to finish. High quality materials include mohair, faux fur, cashmere for the foot pads and hand crafted glass eyes, all from Great Britain, and each bear has a crystal in its foot as an extra special memento.
With finishing touches like this, we were hardly surprised – although we were delighted – to see during our visit to Home & Gift, Harrogate, that Kaycee had grown some dragons and other fantasy creatures.
Images from top to bottom: Deckled Edge, Tony Fernandes, Deckled Edge, The Little Bells, Tony Fernandes, Kaycee, Pigment Productions, Kaycee