REI Gift Cards
This project was done in collaboration with Eli Kahn and Carolynn Wassmer.
Art direction by Simson Chantha. Creative direction by Amelia Irwin.​​​​
The Task
Concept, design, and execute two collections of gift cards for REI, in the categories of Holiday and Occasion. The latter category covers Happy Birthday, Congratulations, and Thank You themed cards.
Goals
• Increase gift card purchases both in-store and online by creating unified collections of topical cards that are relevant to how customers live their lives.
• Remove the stigma of thoughtlessness that gift cards carry by offering cards with real character that are thoughtful, engaging, and delightful.
Insights
• Gift cards are often seen as impersonal gifts and carry a stigma of thoughtlessness.
• Refreshing gift card selections seasonally dramatically increases purchase rate.
• Illustrated and photographic gift cards appeal to different customer demographics.
Holiday Collection
These cards were designed to be festive, fun, and intrinsically REI. This means that elements of an outdoor life had to be baked in to each execution. Additionally, we were tasked with capturing the juxtaposition of warmth or coziness in a cold, wintery environment.
Illustrated by Dylan Thurgood
Illustrated by Eli Kahn

Occasion Collection
By pairing bright, energetic colors with copy that is widely applicable and occasion-specific, we created a collection of illustrated cards that reflect the REI core customer's passion for the outdoors. Our cards offer an array of meaningful gift giving options all year long.
Illustrated by Dylan Thurgood
Illustrated by Carolyn Wassmer
Illustrated by Carolyn Wassmer and Mariah Behrens
Illustrated by Eli Kahn

The Graveyard
We pitched a lot more ideas throughout this process than ended up in the final collections. Here are some of my favorites that were ultimately axed for a variety of reasons. 
In this section I have chosen to only show cards that were illustrated by me.

Process - Illustration
We went through many iterations of every card before arriving at the unified collections displayed above. Typically we presented rough pencil sketches to business stakeholders with accompanying copy ideas. Once the concepts were approved, we had regular check-ins with our Art Director and Creative Director to make sure our executions were in-line with brand guidelines and company values.
My illustration process for each card began by creating a rough sketch in Procreate that I used to explain my idea in meetings. I then took this sketch into Adobe Illustrator to refine it and color it, before taking it back into Procreate to add textures. The last step was isolating those textures in Procreate and bringing those into Illustrator one at a time, vectorizing them, and applying them to the vector version of the illustration.
Below are a series of process sketches at varying levels of fidelity that we presented along the way. Some of them never made it past the sketch phase.
Process - Photography
The photographic cards went through a much different process, although they started out in a similar way - as an idea borne of conversation and then turned into a pencil sketch.
For the Most Wonderful Time of The Year card, we worked in the media studio with a full team of product stylists and photographers. We created a frame of foliage and outdoor accessories, as well as the word "Wonderful" spelled out in paracord. At a later point the images were composited together and the other words added digitally.
Working with such a large team was a new experience, and although we were fairly hands-on in the process, our roles were more on the art direction side. It was fun to have such a wealth of space, technology, tools, and people at our disposal, and it was a nice contrast to the sedentary process we were simultaneously going though with the illustrated cards.
Takeaways
This project involved a lot of firsts for me, and I learned a lot as a result. I had the opportunity to work on executing sketches from other people on my team and watch them execute mine, which was very different from my in-school experience. I went through numerous illustration reviews and practiced pitching and defending my ideas to different types of stakeholders. Although we wrote a lot of the copy ourselves, we also collaborated with a copy writer, which was new to me.
The most valuable lesson came from managing relationships with art directors, stylists, photographers, project managers, and many other team members throughout the entire process. I gained invaluable collaborative working experience and ultimately delivered an end product that everyone seemed to be proud to have worked on.

You may also like:

Back to Top