Greeting cards = Big business
In 2009, it was estimated that the U.S. Greeting card industry generated $7 billion in retail sales, with Hallmark as the industry leader. (Fun fact - Hallmark started as a postcard company started by the Hall brothers. Their slogan "when you care enough to send the very best" was penned on a cocktail napkin in 1944. The napkin is on display today in their corporate headquarters). Today, the greeting card business is projected to reach global sales of $30.4 billion by 2015. (Certainly there's room for handmade greeting cards, don't you think?)
Enough with the history!!
So, with the bare bones history lesson over, let's get back to the original question ... What is a greeting card?
Is it a single sheet of car stock with a greeting on it? Does it have to fold in half, or fold at all for that matter? How about size and shape? Does it have to confirm to a standard or can it be whatever the artist envisions it to be?
Pencil drawings from
1943 edition of Nature magazine
The answer, without sounding too Zen, is that a card is what the creator wants it to be. The only limit to cards these days is in the imagination and creativity of the designer.
Here at Paper Owl Artists, we have made simple fold-over cards, multilayered cards, square cards, rectangular cards, even round cards! We have pop-up cards, cards using antique magazine art, vintage cigar bands, even paint swatch swatch strips! :-). And we have cards for every occasion. Most of our cards are blank on the inside to encourage our customers to express their own thoughts and feelings. There are times we add an inside sentiment or decoration, more to carry the theme of the card to the inside than to take away from the actual writing in the card by the sender.
We are strong supporters of "real mail" and the written word and hope that our customers and supporters feel the same. The written word is NOT dead, not even close. It is doubtful it ever will make it to the endangered species list either, as long as there are people like us ... Card designers, card makers, and card senders ... To keep it alive.
So after all of this I guess the answer to our question is this ...
A greeting card is a way of expressing oneself in feelings, wishes, and hopes to another person in any way that you, the sender, sees as doing the job best. Shape, size, color or style are secondary to the message.
So next time you need a card for an occasion or just to say hello, think not only of the mass produced retail card industry. Think also of the independent card maker who has a love not only for the handmade card, but also for the design, feel and shape if a card as well as the history behind the industry.