The simply elegant and playfully designed line of YoshiniG Creative greeting cards came into existence thanks to Yoshini Gunawardena’s two best friends and one long night—the pair not only pushed the illustrator and designer to launch this endeavor but they physically sat by her side as she designed card after card for six straight hours, wrapping up that first burst of creativity with 20 different card designs.
Really, it’s the support of those that are closest to her that inspire and support all of her creations, which are full of vibrant colors and frequently feature off-kilter quips that are silly and humorous or just eye-catching patterns alongside imagery of animals and everyday items. Born and raised in Portland and schooled at Portland State University, Yoshini has seven years of professional graphic design under her belt and designs all of her cards by hand or digitally before printing them right here in town.
This “small business slash hobby,” as Yoshini describes it, is a labor of love—for both Yoshini and the friends and family that support her. In the end, “My goal is that they are as much a delight to receive as they were a pleasure to make.”
Say Hello to YoshiniG Creative
How does living in Portland and the Northwest inspire your designs?
Living in Portland definitely influences the designs I create. A lot of my ideas come from things on my way to work—the quirky feel of the city and its strong design presence. It’s hard not to feel inspired by everything Portland has to offer!
Speaking of work, we hear you have a full-time job in addition to your card company. What all do you do in life and how do you balance your time between the different areas?
For my day job, I work as a graphic designer for an interactive agency in NW Portland called ISITE Design. I’m on a team that creates the front-end visual design for websites and mobile applications. Aside from working a full-time job, I also enjoy spending time with my friends and family, though most of my time is spent with my boyfriend Richard and our two-year-old dog, Autzen. I’ll admit, it’s hard to find balance between working, my card hobby, and spending time with those I love, but I do my best to give each area the attention and focus it needs.
Where do you create your cards? Do you have a dedicated studio or do you work from home?
Right now, I just work in the living room of my condo, curled up on the couch with my laptop. Eventually I’d love to have a room dedicated to my card business—mainly to keep our dog from chewing up my cards and the cat from laying on top of them!
What artistic techniques and processes do you use?
I design my cards both digitally and by hand. When I design them by hand, I use Prismacolor markers to create an almost paint-like aesthetic. Most of the time though, I use programs like Photoshop and Illustrator to create my designs. What I enjoy most about using the computer is that it allows me to quickly iterate on different concepts. Additionally, I love when I learn a new technique in digital illustration and I’m able to bring that skill into my work at ISITE.
There’s some pretty clever, quirky copy on some of your cards. Can you tell us where these ideas come from?
All the really clever card ideas come from my friends and family. I am constantly getting text messages and emails about “a great idea for another card.” I even have a Google Doc with some friends for us to document our ideas. It’s safe to say my cards wouldn’t be nearly as popular if it wasn’t for the great ideas others have been kind enough to share with me.
We noticed that some of your work seems origami inspired. Is there a story behind that?
As a kid, I had this phase where I was obsessed with origami. My parents supported this by regularly bringing me origami books from the library. Even though I rarely do origami now, I guess you can say that its elegance and simplicity has influenced a lot of my design style as an adult.
How do you spread the word about your business?
Word of mouth has been my biggest way to spread word about my business, though I’ve started to dive deeper into using Facebook and Instagram. I recently hired my friend Doniree Walker to help me with a digital strategy. She absolutely knows her stuff and has been a tremendous help. Though, I do find that at the end of the day, my friends and parents are my best advocates.
What’s your favorite part of your day?
I love waking up every day and knowing I get to do what I love and was meant to do in this life: design. I go to my full-time job every morning excited that I get to work with the most amazing people and am constantly learning and honing my craft. Then I come home and get to go back to my print design roots. I’m especially lucky that I have friends, family and a boyfriend that are incredibly supportive of this passion.
Tell us five things you love, need and can’t live without.
If we’re excluding people and pets…
What’s the best “thing” you’ve recently come across?
This changes daily but lately I’ve been obsessed with vintage advertisements and trying to recreate that look and feel in my cards.
How do you avoid creative ruts?
When I hit a rut I usually try to check out sites that inspire me: Colossal, Pinterest, The Dieline, Oh Joy! and Design*Sponge. I also like to take a walk or watch some Netflix to clear my head of the project for a bit.
Anyone you’d like to give a shout out to?
Yes! My local printer: Anders Printing off SE Division. The people there work with my last-minute requests and help bring my designs to life. They were the only printer in town that created the quality I needed for the price I could afford. Most of all, they are so knowledgeable, kind and wonderful to work with!
Lastly, we hear you’re doing some pro bono work for nonprofits and community groups. Can you tell us more about that?
I will provide them with free design services and they will just pay the production cost and shipping. They can either design invites or announcements or even a set of cards that they can then turn around and sell while keeping 100 percent of the profits. I’m looking to work with about two to three groups a month, and depending on the demand, they will be selected by my business partners and I. People can contact us through our Facebook page for more information.