Snowtap’s Susy Snow and Gracie Tapner on laughs, licensing and lucky neighbours

With their designs already enjoying success in the greetings cards space, Susy Snow and Gracie Tapner tell us about their exciting journey into licensing so far.

Last year saw design studio Snowtap enter the world of licensing, as their witty, natural world-inspired designs landed on greetings cards with The Art File thanks to a deal put together by KJG.

With the card collection doing well and designs stocked in stores across the UK, we caught up with Snowtap’s Susy Snow and Gracie Tapner to find out more about their approach to design – and their exciting journey into licensing so far.

Susy Snow, Gracie Tapner, Snowtap

Susy, Gracie, thanks for making time for this. To kick off, what brought you two together? And what led you to set up your own design studio?
We met while studying illustration at the University of Westminster in 2011, and quickly became besties, working on projects together whenever we could. We found collaborating really easy and it often brought out the best in both of us!

After graduating, and working respectively in the industry for a few years, we met for our regular catch-up coffee in Kings Cross and realised work would be more rewarding if we could somehow do it together.

Susy then jokingly suggested that we could be called Snowtap, which was met with a grinning nod from Gracie, and the rest is history!

Susy Snow, Gracie Tapner – I see the logic!
We came up with a logo that day, designed two greetings cards, set up a website and have built up everything from there.

Lovely stuff. Looking at the card range, they’re beautiful illustrations, but a sense of humour is also very apparent! How would you describe the Snowtap style?
Over the last six years, we’ve certainly settled into the roles that suit us best within the business. Gracie is the watercolour wizard, and Susy is the pun queen and the talent behind the typography and design.

We now work collaboratively across everything – we know each other inside out and understand each other’s strengths, which has allowed us to create a strong collaborative aesthetic and style that’s continuously evolving and growing alongside us.

The humorous aspect is definitely a huge part of our success… Getting the comedy to come across in a static 2D illustration is something we pride ourselves on being able to do. Watching our customers get the giggles whilst looking over our range is an unbeatable satisfaction.

The best ones are always the weird and wonderful ones, and it’s these ones that have us crying with laughter behind the scenes in the studio.

Susy Snow, Gracie Tapner, Snowtap

I bet. Now, Snowtap is a fully-fledged brand and you’ve signed several great licensing deals through a collaboration with KJG’s Kirsty Guthrie. What’s it been like entering the licensing space?
We are really excited for our debut into the licensing world! It seems like a very natural fit after six years of building up our business to venture into this larger industry, as we feel like our creative output is at an all-time high and our ideas just keep on coming!

So how did you connect with KJG?
We are lucky enough to be neighbours with Kirsty, and so have always chatted casually about the creative industry. When we showed her our current range, she suggested partnering up and getting in touch with some of her contacts. It wasn’t long at all before we had three very exciting deals on the table, and in the following few weeks we had signed contracts with all of them!

That’s amazing. I’m lucky to get a cup of tea from my neighbours!
Ha! Kirsty has been brilliant to work with. Because she knows us on a personal level, it means that she understands us, our brand and exactly where we want to take it.

And I imagine seeing your designs make it onto product is a real thrill…
Absolutely. Seeing our designs on published cards out in the wild is a real dream come true for us. We always knew there was a market for our cards, selling directly online, at markets and wholesaling to businesses all over the globe, but we just didn’t have the time to take it to the next level. Thanks to Kirsty and our new licensing deals, we’re now able to do so!

Before we let you go, talk us through your creative process. Do you start with a gag and build out the artwork from there?
Well, our process is mostly fuelled by tea, coffee, toast and cake! If we’re hungry or under-caffeinated, we won’t be getting the best results, so trips out to local indie cafes are a must! Then we chat about ideas, themes, animals, and write notes as we go.

Each time we come up with something, we put it out to each other, and then if it gets the desired laugh it’ll go in the ‘yes’ pile. Once we have some ideas to work up, we have a look at wildlife photography, and sometimes have a trip to one of the zoos for reference.

A laugh test – great stuff! Susy, Gracie, a huge thanks for this and congrats with everything so far. I look forward to seeing what’s next for Snowtap.

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