Meet Crane’s Designer in Residence and the imaginative force behind the brand’s holiday collection
Sending out holiday cards can, at times, seem like a chore. But imagine the thought process that goes into the cards themselves. Today we’re sitting down with the designer of this timeless collection, one that will make friends and family alike rejoice in the season with each new card they open. Sita Silva will tell you that there are sources of inspiration for her collections everywhere, primarily in other artists, fashion designers, textile designers, filmmakers, photographers, and everyday life.
For the holiday collection specifically, she credits a serious immersion in the holiday season – and one that seems to begin earlier and earlier with every passing year. We, for one, are so pleased to hear it, because this collection is not to be missed. Understanding the beauty of each piece and every design begins right here, so stay tuned as we take a deep dive into the season with the lovely and immensely talented Sita Silva herself.
Tell us a little about yourself (i.e. background, artistic/creative sources of inspiration, hobbies, family life, etc.).
Early on, I knew I wanted a career in the arts. I honestly wasn’t sure which field as long as I got to be creative while making a living. With the support of my mother and father, I went to the School of Visual Arts to study graphic design with a focus in editorial design and motion graphics.
What drew you to designing stationery? What makes it special/different from other design work?
For many years I worked for a company that helped build brand identities for small apparel start-ups. I worked as an art director, designed branding systems, website layouts, marketing materials, and photography – everything down to the trim on the garments! But I wanted my work to mean something and wanted to create something that became a part of someone’s life.
My career in the stationery field began as a wedding invitation and stationery designer at Ellen Weldon Design. Currently, I’m a holiday greeting card designer for Crane. I wanted to create things that people cherished; things that became a part of their lives and served as reminders of life’s special moments.
What’s a day in the life of a designer look like?
Every day is different, but generally I scan my emails in the morning and check to see which meetings I have for the day or for the week. We have weekly design meetings and I also have a weekly meeting with our Senior Art Director, Karen Herzig. I work on anything that is urgent first. This can be anything from sending last-minute changes to our production team to reviewing illustrator artwork and sending feedback. Then, if I’m starting a new album, I create and finalize a collection plan which lists and identifies concepts, SKU count, and category breakdowns for each item that will be in the album.
Throughout the rest of the day, you can usually find me working on next year’s album while proofing an album that is currently being produced. Throw in 1 to 3 meetings a day and that pretty much sums it up.
What’s on your desk?
My desk is usually a mess with stacks of Christmas décor magazines, project folders, pens, markers, erasers, pencils, sticky notes, Pantone chips, a scanner, and small cutting mat. And somewhere amongst this mess is my laptop, monitor, and pen tablet.
Anything you can’t live without?
I absolutely need my computer, but when I’m sketching or creating a piece of artwork, I rely heavily on these very thin erasers. They are similar to a clickable pencil but instead of lead an eraser comes out. They are about 1/8” diameter and they let me erase with precision, and they’re an absolute must for me.
Tell us about your inspirations for the Collection:
My biggest source of inspiration for Crane Holiday is actually our Crane archives. I use the archives as my inspiration guide and as the core foundation to the direction of any collection. Staying true to the Crane aesthetic for holiday is very important. So, I always go back to the archives at the beginning of a project and immerse myself in Crane Christmas! Classic charm, history, nostalgia, and tradition: these are things that embody the holiday season, and I think that’s why people gravitate towards our Crane holiday cards. We like to hold true to the same aesthetics while adding a little something new or unique.
Would you say there’s any part of your personal life that contributes to your designs?
My love of Christmas! I am one of those people who want to start decorating earlier and earlier every year. This year, I convinced my husband to start decorating even before Thanksgiving!
Anything from your personal holiday traditions that lends to your seasonal artistry?
Any time I’m out shopping and I see a Christmas section I am always taking snapshots, looking for color trends, or anything else that might inspire a design.
The design process begins with a lot of analyzing and gathering of images and information. How are people decorating their homes for Christmas? What colors are their ornaments? These are questions that I ask myself. I start off by gathering information and inspiration.
As I mentioned before, I immerse myself in the Crane archives and pretty much immerse myself in the holiday season in general. I start to gather things like magazine clippings, snapshots of window displays – even patterns I found on chairs or vases. All these things are in different locations so I put them all together in a binder in combination with Pinterest boards. I love Pinterest and I have so many boards.
Then: I start sketching and concepting. I also review and run ideas by our art director. All designs and concepts get reviewed and go through various stages of approval before I start to contact our illustrators.
For the collection coming out this year, I tried to incorporate more whimsical elements along with adding an extra touch of color wherever possible, while still keeping to the classic Crane aesthetic.
What’s the best part of seeing this collection come to life?
I like hearing what people’s favorites are and I find it really interesting to see what people gravitate towards. But one thing I love is knowing that these cards are being sent out to friends and family members and they get to be present in people’s homes. That’s the best part for me.
What do you think makes the holidays collection such a special part of the year for senders and recipients?
Sending a holiday card is a great way for people to connect with one another, share news, communicate something meaningful, or just to simply say “thank you” during this time of year. And with a gorgeous Crane holiday card, you are just making that sentiment even more special. Everyone loves receiving holiday cards. Every time I receive a holiday card it makes me smile!
Is there any one, cohesive thing that defines the holiday collection?
Throughout the collection what’s most innate in each design is an element of joyful charm, expressed beautifully through our exquisite engraving.
Any favorite pieces from the collection? Why?
My favorite piece from the collection is the Venetian trees card. It carries a bit of my graphic design style, geometric shapes and swirls. It’s both whimsical and modern, yet elegant at the same time. I designed and served as art director for this piece, which was brought to life by one of our extremely talented illustrators.