Tess Cards harnesses teen creativity for new Skool Rules humour range

Tessa Harbinson, founder of Tess Cards, with her son Charlie.
Tessa Harbinson, founder of Tess Cards, with her son Charlie.

Since exhibiting at PG Live, her first-ever trade show, in June, Tessa Harbinson, founder of Tess Cards has been harnessing the creative spark (and slightly dark humour) of her teenage son Charlie for a new humour range called Skool Rules. With the collection hot of the press, PG Buzz asked Tess to reveal the story behind the range.

“When I have to nag my 14 year-old son Charlie about homework it’s hideous, and leads to huge rows. Creating this greeting card range however, was completely different. The promise of money kept him motivated and he never complained if I asked him to draw ‘just one more’ cartoon’,” explains Tessa Harbinson, founder of Tess Cards, about a new humour range called Skool Rules, designed by her teenage son, and aimed at parents of young children, and their school teachers.

Tapping into the joint experiences of parents and teachers, two designs created by Charlie Harbinson for Tess Cards.
Tapping into the joint experiences of parents and teachers, two designs created by Charlie Harbinson for Tess Cards.
Many mums can empathise on this theme - a Skool Rules design from Tess Cards.
Many mums can empathise on this theme – a Skool Rules design from Tess Cards.

Shared experiences: “I used to have a (sort of) ‘mummy blog’ when my children were smaller and I realised how many bloggers out there, as well as parents on Mumsnet, were having the same experiences – like having to listen to boastful parents in the playground, or that sinking feeling you get when your child brings home the class ‘travelling teddy’. So I started thinking about how I could translate those experiences into greeting card form, to create something that parents of primary school age kids, as well as teachers, could really identify with.”

 

Game play: “From the first instance, my idea was for the designs to look as if a child had drawn them. My son Charlie (14) likes to make insulting birthday cards for me and his dad, and has a nice line in stick men, and as he’s saving up (very slowly) for a PlayStation VR headset I basically bribed him with the promise of a small fee per cartoon.”

Gamer Charlie on his PlayStation.
Gamer Charlie on his PlayStation.

Drawing it out: “Initially, I would sketch out the people and their positions and tell Charlie the emotions they were feeling, and he’d draw up the designs using Adobe Illustrator. I let him draw the people as he saw fit, and I like that they’re rough around the edges and their limbs are out of proportion, as I don’t think the designs would have worked if they were more polished.”

 

Teenage boost: “Like most 14-year-olds, Charlie won’t accept any praise so I’m really hoping if a few people buy the cards, it will boost his confidence. It’s one thing your mum telling you she likes something, but quite another if a compliment comes from a stranger.”

Two teen designs from Tess Cards’ Headliners range.
Two teen designs from Tess Cards’ Headliners range.


Future card designer?:
“Even though he considers me ’embarrassing’ and ‘weird’, Charlie and I share a sense of humour and I’d be delighted if he made greeting cards his career one day. There’s still a big emphasis in our schools on being academic and an all-rounder, but I believe if we can all find just one thing we’re good at and enjoy, and work hard at that, the chances are we can make some sort of career out of it… and just maybe it will be greeting cards.”

 

* For more ‘elementary’ news, views and freshly launched ranges in the children’s card market, look out for the Focus On Kids’ Cards supplement out with the December issue of Progressive Greetings Worldwide.

 

 

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