‘Tis the Season to go holiday card shopping. But how retro is that? Christmas cards are almost extinct for a reason – Hallmark cards are just too cheesy and meaningless, even for grandma. But it doesn’t have to be that way though, as independent designers are making a comeback with Christmas cards we can all relate to – from bribing Santa for being naughty to drunk reindeer. Here, we feature a few designers who are keeping the art of holiday card design alive.
They’re not alone, as the Just A Card Campaign is all about spreading the word of supporting small businesses. Or in other words, to skip Hallmark and order directly from designers and illustrators. The campaign came about when a London-based designer Sarah Hamilton saw that an art gallery had to shutter its doors, but saw the quote: “If everyone who’d complimented our beautiful gallery had bought ‘just a card’ we’d still be open.”
“Designer, makers, independent shops and galleries need a voice,” writes Hamilton. “People seldom realize the considerable costs involved in exhibiting at design shows or keeping a shop open. Running a shop is often a labor of love.”
The campaign invites indie designers and illustrators to add the Just A Card logo to their website, buy directly from their shop and join them every year for the Just a Card Indie Week. Until next year’s fair returns, here are a few indie designers and illustrators selling hilarious Christmas cards you simply must order online stat.
The designer: Claire Senior, a Nottingham-based designer and illustrator, is the force behind Curious Pancake. Her card business came about in an unlikely way. After graduating with an illustration degree in 2000, one odd job she took was in a greeting card shop, which sold out-of-touch cards(“Oh, you’re shopping for a birthday card for your dad?” she recalls. “Your choice of cards featuring weird image mash ups of sports cars, golf clubs and beer bottles awaits you!”). As a result, Senior started her own line of cards with real phrases we can all relate to.
The card: “Looking forward to ignoring Christmas with you” (though her Festive as Fuck card is also equally irresistible).
Cost & how to buy: $3.50 and available on the Curious Pancake online store here.
On indie design: “I created this cut out paper design as my own personal bah-humbug to the whole ‘excitement’ around Christmas,” said Senior. “Sure, there’s lots to be grateful for, but there are also many of us who just want to pull the duvet over our heads and ignore the whole thing. I’m lucky that my other half feels the same way too, so this card was created pretty much with him in mind! Supporting indie design is something I’m so passionate about. Not only because you’re support your local economy, and encouraging diversity in what you can buy, but also the level of service you get from an indie often far outweighs what you get from a large corporate. For example: each of my customers gets a personalized doodle with their order along my heartfelt thanks!”
The designer: Angela Chick is known for her self-described “playfully illustrated greeting cards & gifts,” the Illustrator, designer and comic artist who is based in Southsea in the U.K., who is known for her greeting cards and quirky gifts, but also designs for brands, magazines, restaurants and helps small creative businesses.
The card: There are many in her latest crop of Christmas cards, but the ‘Santa bribe’ card is hilarious. It reads: “Dear Santa, I’ve been an absolute shit this year. Can I just slide you a twenty and we can forget all about it?”
Cost & how to buy: $3.00 and available on her online shop.
On indie design: “It’s so important to support indie businesses all year long, but Christmas is such a great opportunity to do it. Many more people are shopping for gifts and sending cards at this time of year. Supporting indie designers means you get to send something that is much more unique and special. It’s a win-win situation: you support a cool indie business which makes you feel good, makes the designer feel good and most importantly, you get a great gift or card that really stands out and that makes your friends and family feel good. Being a small business, I can focus on creating designs that are personal, packed full of humor, feelings and empathy. I can create designs that help people find the words that are in the back of their mind. I can create designs that people want to give to people to make them feel good.”
The designer: Based in San Francisco, Mudsplash Studios is run by designer and illustrator Kacey Schwartz who specializes in children’s art for games and books. But truth be told, when she first created holiday greeting cards for her family and friends years ago, she fell in love with the medium and that is how her company was born.
The card: “Merry and Bright” showing a disgruntled reindeer drinking a cup of (what looks like) mulled wine with a stick of cinnamon or the adorable Spiked Nog card.
Cost & how to buy: $4.50 and available on their online shop.
On indie design: “With the holidays approaching, why not consider trying a new, cuter recipe of your favorite seasonal mixed drink this year?” asks Schwartz.
The designer: Julie Fladie is a designer who runs Fresh! A quirky little card studio out of Stillwater, Oklahoma. She is a designer and illustrator who aims to make people laugh with her funny phrases (“It’s always nice to be happy and laugh-right?” she says). The cards are made on 100% recycled paper, she uses soy-based ink and even the envelope is recycled. “Every card’s message is designed to reflect how we ACTUALLY talk to our friends and family- there will be no fancy metaphor about how someone anchors you like the roots of an oak tree here or something equally stuffy- nope not here!”
The card: The ‘Alexa’ Christmas card which says: “Alexa, put up the Christmas lights.”
Cost & how to buy: $4.50 on the Fresh website here.
On indie design: “All of my cards are inspired by our modern, everyday life. I strive to create designs that are relevant and unique – a card that makes you say “I HAVE to get that for so-and-so!” This particular design came from my obsession with Amazon’s Alexa and all the marvelous, magical things it does (and sometimes doesn’t) do. Supporting indie design allow new and refreshing ideas to flourish and push our perspective of the world and how we interact with it.”