Thursday, September 20, 2012

A (greeting card) love story

I am absolutely NUTS about writing and illustrating greeting cards. It's something I've been doing in some way, shape or form since I was a little kid. Before I remember even making my own cards as a kid (and all kids do that at some point, don't they?), I would  always compulsively 'redecorate' store-bought greeting cards. Without fail. My mom would send me to the store to get a card for a birthday or other jolly occasion, and, well when I got it home and it was my turn to sign it,  I simply couldn't help myself! It was as though I would become possessed. Probably fair to say my 'redecorating' was along the lines of being a compulsive behavior. (Hmm.. is that an over-share?) I would just always put my signature spin on those cards, no matter what. (Well, unless it was a condolence card. Thankfully I did have the good sense to restrain myself from "redecorating" those.) My family didn't seem to mind (except for my grandma, but that is another story for another day, LOL!) . It was just the totally natural thing for me to do.

I remember thinking several times during a larger card doodle,"Could I ever dare to dream in my life to design greeting cards for a big, national greeting card company??" So weirdly distant from what I ever thought was possible, so seemingly unattainable a dream. At the time, it was but a fluffy cotton candy cloud carrying the dreamy wish, with unicorns, rainbows and Jolly Ranchers (and maybe a few Starbursts) way up in the sky prancing alongside it. (Oh-forgot the glitter and stars, too.)

Well, we all have our mountains to climb...

When I was a teenager, I worked at a mall store called BeDazzled. It was like a Spencer's Gifts, but much less risque (no 'sexy Halloween costumes' thankfully, but we did have a giant standing Gumby, which was nice). At BeDazzled, there were lots and LOTS of cards, much to my delight. Our biggest card vendor was Recycled Paper Greetings. Mary Melcher and Sandra Boynton were two artists I became VERY acquainted with in my much earlier youth of choosing and "redecorating" greeting cards. So, years later, when I worked at BeDazzled and was surrounded by their cards on a regular basis, I had graduated to being pretty much mesmerized by both of these maverick greeting card artists. Each of them had their own unique sense of whimsy, humor, art, ability to communicate, and both had the special "wow factor" ability to stir such emotions with their seemingly simple cards.

Of all my duties at the shop, my favorite job of all was unpacking the new greeting card shipments, and putting them in their displays. What a treat! Christmas every time. I got to read each and every card as many times as I wanted. I spent so much time with the cards. I lived with the cards!  I never got sick of them. They kept me company—they made me laugh, they made me sentimental (Mary Melcher's bears got me every time, and they still do). But no matter what type of emotional response they conjured up, they always gave me the warm kind, and they totally entertained me, no matter how my day was going (and, mind you, I was a teenager).

I absolutely LOVED working with the cards and I continued to dream of someday doing cards myself, just like when I was way younger. But maybe at this point, I saw them a little bit more inquisitively, as though I was seeing a little of the machinery behind the face of a watch. But still, at the time, dreaming so big as to be doing greeting cards with my any big companyseemed, again, like maybe too much to wish for but with my dream company

Well along the way I finally became a grown-up eventually (sort of) and, even as a working professional I've always been the de-facto greeting card designer for co-worker's birthday cards. Hey, I'm not sure if I volunteered myself for this role or by osmosis it just stuck, but once again, things somehow in my life rearrange to support my pursuing of this passion I've had. (Okay, I must have volunteered. But the volunteering really stuck!)

Now, here I am, many years later.. and today I am showing you a few cards here, with the company I dreamed about working with as a young kid, a teenager and as an adult (hey, I never stopped wishing to work for Recycled! Nowadays there are several other card companies I also love and would LOVE to work with. How nice that I do not have to choose between them all! :D ) But back to Recycled for a minute. I will be honest with you. I don't ever get tired of looking at my logo on the back of these cards. And, I hope to see many more in the future. I'll keep you updated.

Please look for them in a shop near you, wherever Recycled Paper Greetings cards are sold.

Don't stop believin'!