DIY Greeting Cards and the Digital Age

DIY Thank You Card Set

Four handmade thank you notecards and envelopes.

I’ve been experimenting with DIY thank you cards as a creative outlet. For years, my sister and I have added personal touches to Hallmark envelopes by creating elaborate designs suited to the occasion. Last year, when she legally became old enough to drink alcohol, I drew a wine bottle with flowers springing from the top. When I finished, it occurred to me that I’d drawn a closed bottle, but that’s neither here nor there.

Wine Bottle Envelope

The hand drawn wine bottle envelope I made for my sister.

I wanted to take my work a step further, so I cut and folded my own envelopes and inserted polka dot liners cut from a large sheet of scrapbook paper. To create the cards themselves, I measured out 3.5” x 5” notecards, realized I couldn’t find my paper cutter, and resigned myself to manually cutting each rectangle. My goal was to maintain a cohesive design element between the envelopes and the cards, so I focused on the seafoam green liner for inspiration. Ultimately, I settled on drawing Echeveria plants because I love the way the fleshy robin’s egg blue leaves transition into rosy blush-tinted tips.

Succulent Card

Handmade blank thank you notecard with a watercolor Echeveria drawing.

DIY Envelopes

Charcoal grey DIY 4-Bar envelopes with seafoam green and white polka dot liners.

As I was working, I thought about NPR’s article last month on Hallmark’s struggle to stay relevant in the digital age. With the advent of the quick and thoughtless “Happy Birthday!” Facebook post, e-cards, and other means of digital communication, the greeting card industry has been jettisoned into that desolate pit of obscurity known only by other relics of bygone ages. We are a nation of consumers, governed by capitalist commandments. We hold fast to the fallacies that Thanksgiving is naught but Black Friday Eve and generic labels are a sin. We throw cash at all our favorite brands, but $4 greeting cards are viewed as superfluous expenditures.

For most people, greeting cards are a waste of money. I keep all the cards I receive in shoeboxes, so I was surprised to read multiple comments on the NPR article stating that people generally throw them away after reading. With all the “You Know You Were a 90s Kid if…” listicles and I Love the [insert decade here] VH1 shows, it’s apparent that we are obsessed with nostalgia, and yet have no time for sentimentality.

Perhaps the real issue is that our nostalgia is rooted in narcissism, rendering sentimentality worthless in the digital age. People love looking back into their own past, but they have no use for boxed remembrances. Physical cards are essentially direct messages from sender to recipient. Unlike publicly visible social media messages, they aren’t meant to serve as exhibition. They aren’t sharable or likeable; they’re inadequate social barometers.

Card companies like Papyrus have responded to the decline in sales by creating 3D cards with unique designs. Rather than hoping to sell high volumes, it seems as though their brand strategy is to depend on society’s lust for commodification. They’re appealing to people who find exclusive cards irresistible, regardless of their cost. Like the Etsy shopkeepers who create handmade cards to supplement their own income, I know I’m hammering one more nail in the card industry’s coffin with each card I make. When I reach a level of wealth that enables me to spend $10 on a sentiment, I’ll return to the card aisle. Provided it’s still there at that time.

Advertisements

10 thoughts on “DIY Greeting Cards and the Digital Age

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s