Christmas. Birthdays. Anniversaries. Graduations. Hallmark has them covered, or so we thought. Store-bought greeting cards have a lot to offer: vivid color, cute one-liners, reminders to add extra postage to the envelope, and quite often a rather hefty price tag. But the truth is that the card you buy at the store is one of thousands of identical cards, some of which are sold all over the planet. In no way is the card in your hands unique, even if it does aptly express what you would like to communicate. Of course, sometimes it simply does not manage to say what you are trying to say. You spend an hour browsing the card rack only to conclude that nothing is quite what you want: either the picture is great, but the words are cheesy, or the words are beautiful and heartfelt, but the picture is just not appropriate for the person you want to give the card to.
When store-bought cards do not give you a perfect fit for the message you have to share, it’s time to widen your search net. What are your options? You could write a letter – but that wouldn’t have a fun picture to go with it. You could make your own greeting card – but what if all your paints are dry, you are too busy, or you don’t feel the tickle of the creative finger? You could make a phone call to communicate your message – but that wouldn’t qualify as a heart-warming, written greeting. Yet another option (and one of my favorites) is to invest in a hand-crafted greeting card that perfectly suits the recipient. You know the person you are buying a card for – invest in a one-of-a-kind card that will float their boat.
Hand-crafted greeting cards are widely available on international craft platforms such as ETSY. Artists, scrapbookers, and print boutiques around the world all have something to offer you that will put store-bought greeting cards in the shade. I want to put the spotlight on one category of hand-made cards, simply because these cards are one of my areas of interest. Original illustrated greeting cards – they offer fresh designs on cards that are guaranteed to be unique.
So why should you invest in an original art card? Let me start by saying that if store-bought cards meet your needs then the answer to this question is not for you. Definitely stay with what works for you. But if store-bought cards fall a little short of your expectations, it makes sense to spend roughly the same amount of money on a greeting card that is more than a greeting card.
Original art cards may be collaged, hand painted or illustrated directly on the card surface, or have an original drawing or painting attached to the front of the card. ACEO greeting cards are a good example of the latter type. In an ACEO-styled card, the art card is constructed by attaching a small artwork (ACEO) to the front of a blank card. I have recently begun work on a series of greeting cards that fall into the former category: illustrations done directly on the card surface. I enjoy monotone, so for this series I have chosen to work predominantly in black ink on a white card surface. The style is reminiscent of adult coloring books with detailed patterns, abstraction, and a central theme for each card. (In fact, I actually encourage my customers to color the card and envelope if they want to contribute their own brand of creativity to the card.)
By purchasing an original art card, you are purchasing a small work of art which in turn becomes a vehicle for your greeting or message. Wouldn’t you like to open your mailbox (the physical one in your front yard) and find a greeting card that is entirely unique – not a mass-production print or even a limited edition print, but something a real person invested significant time into? You can run your finger over the surface of the card and feel the texture of the media used to create the card. You might even spot real life smudges or slips of the pen that have not been fixed by a computer. You would be holding art in your hands. Perhaps not a grand piece you might add to your million dollar art collection, but art – small and unusual art – nonetheless.
If you have something worth saying by writing it down, why settle for some run-of-the-mill e-card or a glossy generic issue from your local Walmart? Put your words inside a card that the recipient will look at more than once – they might even hold onto the card (and your words), if they recognize the value of what they have in their hands. (And of course, there is always the chance that the inexpensive art card you paid a few dollars for is created by an artist that becomes famous during your lifetime. Wouldn’t you want to be able to say you still own or gifted one of their small artworks?) An original art card takes your words and upgrades their value by presenting them in a way that will be entirely unique to that moment. It’s a double delight gift: your thoughtful words and an original piece of art.
If you are interested in viewing some of my original art cards, please visit my ETSY store.