Probably one of the most frequently asked questions I get is, “What are the stationery trends?” Nothing like a broad, open-ended question to kick off an acquaintance, amirite? For Americans, international trends are something else entirely — they’re an interesting phenomenon in that they often sort of swoop in and shake things up.

So, in the interest of offering a fresh perspective, today I have a post from Lilly Perrott, an in-house illustrator and designer for the Australian greeting card and gift company La La Land to share four trends for the coming year. You can view her work here and here. Take it away, Lily!

October just played host to Australia’s largest stationery, gift and homewares conventions in Melbourne, the Australian Art and Design Markets at The Finders Keepers. Buyers from Australia and around the globe flock to this show to get their latest dose of inspiration, source brand new products and build connections with industry professionals. We were lucky enough to attend and are confident with our 2018 trend predictions for stationery and gifts!Illustrated Puns & Cheeky Jokes. These exploit the different possible meanings of a word or the fact that there are words which sound alike but have different purposes. They’ve also popped up all over the joint in the past six months. It’s incredibly entertaining seeing just how talented the artists and designers behind the work can be, and boy oh boy do these cheeky jokes sell!

These gift and stationery items evoke giggles from buyers, and we all know a positive response to a product eight times out of 10 will lead to a sale. Some great artists out there who are really reigning in on the puns and clever jokes include Gemma Correll, Chloe Joyce and Justine Morrison. These products also add a new incentive for a customer buying them, as they don’t have to relate to a specific occasion at all. A simple joke card, notebook or homeware item only needs to be enjoyed with a smile, allowing a broader demographic to enjoy them.

Pop Culture References. We noticed a plethora of celebrity references and nods to some of our favorite films, TV shows and music available today. Much like the art world, where the creator continually borrows inspiration from others, the stationery and gift world seem to be acquiring celeb-themed imagery to make statements on notebooks, greeting cards and more. Buyers seem more obliged to opt for a product that sports their favorite Big Bang Theory character, and respond to quotes and indirect references to iconic films like Wayne’s World.

A perfect example is Justine Morrison’s ‘Bey-By-Momma’ card. The fact that designers are reinterpreting the way one says, ‘happy birthday’ or ‘I love you’ shows that there’s a serious shift in the market from boring, traditional, bland florals or generic confetti and balloons to punchy nods to pop culture and current events. Keep your eyes peeled for these references on plates, cushions, greeting cards and other paper goods!Australiana. Gone are the days where it was considered ‘bogan’ or tacky to appreciate this big ol’ island home! Australiana themed products were literally the BIGGEST theme we spotted, and it really looks like it’s here to stay. We don’t mean to say the Southern Cross has been embroidered onto tea towels, or the Aussie flag has suddenly been made tasteful — that sort of stuff remains a bit hush and tacky.

Instead, there’s a huge influx of appreciation for Australian flora and fauna. Think delicately illustrated eucalyptus leaves and blossoming gums, chic interpretations of koalas and kangaroos and fashion-forward prints that heavily draw upon the natural beauty and spoils of this sun burnt land! We’ve also noted more brands have popped up promoting ‘Australian Made’ goods.Personalized Products. No, we’re not talking audio chipped greeting cards that yell in funny voices … that’s so 2001. We’re talking about greeting cards and stationery that supplies a more ‘hands on’ element to their design. Many brands have been innovative and merged interactive elements such as pin cards that have greetings incorporated into an enamel pin, like TMOD’s Let’s Party enamel pin card, inviting the buyer to not only give a unique greeting card, but also lets the recipient customize clothing, bags and so on. We’ve noticed they seem to hold the viewer’s gaze for a lot longer than the average 0.2 seconds customer tends to spend. So, if you’re looking for some stationery show stoppers — these might be your next best bet!

So, there you have it, our top four predictions for what will hopefully blow your customer’s socks off! While trends such as tropical and cactus patterns as well as visual references to the 80’s are still very much in the market and will remain so for a good few more months, I recommend that stores and buyers should find themselves an artist-illustrator-shaker-maker friend — they’re the ones who seem to know what’s up!

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