As we launch our 2016 Christmas card range, we hear from Lynn Tait, the woman who makes the Real Deal scheme possible. Artist and photographer Lynn (pictured above), who runs the Lynn Tait Gallery in Leigh-on-Sea, persuaded designers, printers, finishers and even envelope makers to donate their time and resources for free to ensure we receive every penny from the cards we sell…
Q: How did the Real Deal Christmas card scheme begin?
A: Four years ago I was diagnosed with myeloma cancer which has no cure but is treatable. I was very poorly and I had a lot of thinking time which was then I had the idea to ask 12 artists who publish their own cards who I mentor through the Ladder Club to donate a design.
The Ladder Club is a series of seminars I have run for 16 years with the help of all the key people in the greetings card industry to help these new publishers be successful in their business. Its sponsors - G.F. Smith, The Imaging Centre, Enveco, Sherwood Press and Progressive Greetings Live - all donated supplies so that the cards could be sold with all the money going to Action. Everyone agreed straight away and it was all organised within two weeks.
Q: Is it ever a challenge to persuade designers and artists to take part?
A: There are so many successful publishers now in the Ladder Club that it is very difficult to choose not only the artist but the type and subject of the artwork as there is so much choice; so many want to be involved but we have to have a diverse offering for the customers not only in subject matter but in style. Members think it is a huge honour to be invited to design a new card for the range and it can be hard because they are definitely disappointed not to be part of it - they all see it as a huge honour to be part of this project. I'm thrilled with this year’s designs as, after the years of doing the cards, we have a much better idea of what our customers like, plus there are more artists to choose from each year. This year three club members who designed cards for the charity are finalists in the Henries, the prestigious greetings card awards: Wrendale Designs, Lola Design and Paper Salad.
Q: Have any of the designs particularly caught your eye this year?
A: I've learnt by being in the trade for 30 years, not only as a publisher but as a retailer, that personal choice doesn't figure in sales. I always look at what will sell well and make the most money for the charity so there is always a bit of conflict with personal choice. It's always easy to get the bestsellers correct but you have to appeal to all tastes and all ages.
Q: Why is Action a cause close to your heart?
A: Action Medical Research is very close to my heart for many reasons: firstly I adore children and have four of my own and 12 grandchildren; I really support research and especially for children. Many of my friends are in the very successful Southend committee who have sold thousands of Christmas cards and they inspired me to help with all the money they have raised over the years. They are also hugely supportive with other events I do for Action.
Q: Why would you encourage people to buy these cards and to support Action Medical Research?
A: I would encourage people to support this wonderful charity that does such incredible research for our children. Not only does every penny go to the charity but the cards are of exceptional quality and are designed by some of Britain's most successful and up-and-coming artists. I don't know of any other charity cards where the full selling price of the cards goes direct to the charity.
Please visit www.action.org.uk/christmas-cards to check out our amazing range of Christmas cards for 2016.