We are excited to introduce you to one of the incredibly talented independent designers that create cards for Funky Pigeon, the Queer Store. Don’t forget to stay tuned till the end to see some of the brilliant gender neutral and LGBTQ+ cards that the Queer Store has designed for Valentine’s Day!
Hi, I’m Paige. My wife Nikols and I are both behind The Queer Store. We live in a narrowboat and travel up and down the UK waterways together along with our rabbits Monet and Selena. We started the queer store during the beginning of the first lockdown. It started in our spare bedroom in our rented house in Bristol and now our whole boat is our studio, there are cards in every corner. We love that we celebrate the LGBTQ+ community in our designs and hopefully represent other queer couples like us in them too. Our goal is to get our designs into the mainstream so the community has more access to jokes, idols and themes that they feel connected with.
What are the challenges you face as an independent artist? And the joys?
The challenges I face as an independent artist would be creating designs that sell but also represent us as a brand. Being able to survive in quiet periods as The Queer Store is now my only income. Being on top of customer service in our store because that’s something we pride ourselves on. I feel incredibly lucky because I’m doing what I love and I’ve dreamt of this since a teacher spotted my style of drawing at the age of 5 in primary school. Reading reviews of customers that have purchased cards for loved ones that they thought they’d never find is wonderful and makes any tough parts worth it 100%.
Describe your typical workday…
Living in a boat is basically a second job so the first thing we make sure the fires on, waters topped up and the rabbits’ area is nice and fresh. Then we can start the queer store so we sit with a coffee and chat about our daily goals and share any ideas we have for new products and designs. Then I pack the orders from the day before, message customers and work on the creative side of things. In the evenings we take a stroll off the canal to the post box and drop off the orders.
What sort of cards do you love to design?
I love to design cards that represent those in the LGBTQ+ community that don’t feel represented often. For example, cards that celebrate someone coming out, whether that’s as a trans, pan, bi person, etc we try and celebrate everyone. Also, cards that make people laugh and smile because we want to bring joy with what we do.
How did you get into greeting card design?
After graduating I mainly illustrated as a hobby alongside 9-5 work but when that stopped in lockdown, Nikols had the idea to create an online business where I could use my talent in illustration. This is when we discovered the lack of greeting cards in the mainstream that we felt represented us as a queer couple, so we wanted to change that.
What’s your creative process?
I start by making a list of designs that I think will work, then I choose one and start gathering at least 4 reference images to get an idea of scale and if it’s a portrait, the personality of a person. I then start by sketching some roughs on pro create until I’m happy with a concept. I begin black outlining over my sketch then I create a layer of colour. After that, I illustrate lighting and shading in multiple layers and finish with white highlights and any other small details. For background design and text, I import the image into photoshop and use a Wacom tablet.
What or who inspires your work?
Pop culture and LGBTQ+ themes inspire my work. We are big fans of shows like Ru Paul’s drag race and Schitt’s Creek so things like that along with music icons like Cher and Lady Gaga appear in our collection. We often go to our friends and our community on social media to find out who they want to see on cards which helps inspire and diversify our collection.
What do you like to do outside of work?
Outside of The Queer Store, we like to move our boat to different cities and towns to explore them, going to gigs/club nights and visiting galleries. We have also recently taken up foraging which is a fun and useful hobby for us when we are moored up out in the countryside.
What are your favourite cards that you’ve designed & why?
Some of our favourite cards I’ve designed are our Britney Spears Birthday card because it’s one I did for Nikols as she’s a massive fan and Britney’s free so it’s a great way to celebrate her! Another is our Patsy, Ab Fab card because I grew up watching Joanna Lumley and I’ve admired her so this was actually one of my first designs when we began the queer store.
Gender Neutral & LGBTQ+ Valentine’s Day Cards
Explore the full range of Valentine’s Day cards from The Queer Store and find the perfect card for the special someone in your life today.