Holiday Cards With An Artful Edge

KIM COOK
Associated Press

Christmas and seasonal greeting cards have long been an artistic niche that inspires illustrators and designers.

Besides today’s ubiquitous family photo cards, contemporary designs often take advantage of advances in drafting and production — holography, music embeds, digital photography and laser-cutting among them. Other designs begin life with time-honored tools like the paint pot, pencil box and scissors.

Shondra Neumayer of Portland, Oregon, combines modern vintage-style typography, folk-arty woodland silhouettes and antique-style, marquee-light imagery with rustic barn-board backgrounds in cards she sells at her Etsy shop, InkDropDesign. She began designing cards out of frustration with what she saw as a market filled with cheap and cheesy holiday cards. (https://www.etsy.com/shop/inkdropdesign ).

“Going to the mailbox should be an exciting event,” she says. “Each (year) I found myself asking the question, ‘Why can’t Christmas cards be cool?'”

In a series of cards sold at Society 6’s online store, Christina Rollo, a photographer in Binghamton, New York, makes intimate portraits of plump little chickadees and sparrows nestling among snowy boughs and berries. (www.society6.com )

The Museum of Modern Art in New York has been selling holiday cards since 1954. Chay Costello, the museum’s associate director of marketing, says the card program began as a way to foster and encourage young and emerging artists by exposing their work to a larger audience. The program’s early years included work by Alexander Calder, Robert Indiana and Andy Warhol. Costello says Indiana’s famous “Love” illustration was originally created as a holiday card.

MoMA’s card art is selected through an open submission process, and the museum receives hundreds of designs annually. Pop-up cards have become particularly popular.

“We started to see an increasing trend toward cards with special features,” Costello says. “Instead of a card with graphic artwork on its front, many artists have begun to think three-dimensionally, with spiraling and fold-out elements and elaborately crafted pop-out constructions that result in a card that’s a gift in and of itself.”

The designs feature paper manipulation at its best: shimmering snowflakes, shooting stars, skiing reindeer, and holiday bouquets that “bloom” when the card is opened. There are twirling ornaments, sleds that swoosh through a forest, Santa perched precariously on a ladder decorating a tree, and a paper bucket full of holiday champagne.

New York-based Elsa Mora’s lantern-shaped card with intricately cut woodland flora and fauna is a favorite in the MoMA shop, Costello says. This year, Mora’s “Wintertale” card includes a village complete with homes, holly and dancing children. “Festive Dinner Table,” a card by artist Sophie Blackall of Brooklyn, opens to a holiday dinner party. (www.momastore.org )

Other creative cards, pop-up and not, are available at Papyrus, Galison and the Art Institute of Chicago’s web shop, among other places. The crafts site Etsy.com had over 90,000 Christmas card offerings in a recent search. (www.papyrus.com ;www.galison.com )

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