Monday, 29 January 2007

Valentine Cards

From the BBC

Add romance, passion and mystery to your Valentine by sending an e-card in another language. Try these phrases in French, Spanish, German, Italian, Welsh, Gaelic, and Irish.

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Valentine Card History

Saint Valentine's Day or Valentine's Day is the traditional day on which lovers express their love for each other; sending Valentine's cards, candy or Donations to Charities, often anonymously. It is very common to present flowers on Valentine's Day. The holiday is named after two men, both Christian martyrs named Valentine. The day became associated with romantic love in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished.

The day is most closely associated with the mutual exchange of love notes in the form of "valentines". Modern Valentine symbols include the heart-shaped outline and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten notes have largely given way to mass-produced greeting cards. The Greeting Card Association estimates that approximately one billion valentines are sent each year worldwide, making the day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year behind Christmas. The association estimates that women purchase approximately 85 percent of all valentines.

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Muslim Objection to Year of Pig Greeting Cards

From The China Post

"The Imam of the Taipei Grand Mosque complained to Taiwan's foreign minister for sending him a greeting card for the Chinese New Year showing four pigs, a newspaper said yesterday.

After receiving the New Year card, Imam Ma Hsiao-chi pointed out to the Foreign Ministry that the card was offensive to Muslims, the Liberty Times reported. Muslims do not eat pork and regard pigs as unclean animals.

But the ministry defended Foreign Minister Huang Chih-fang's sending out the greeting cards, which were printed because 2007 is the Year of Pig according to the Chinese lunar calendar.

"Sending New Year cards is part of our culture and has nothing to do with religion. Minister Huang sent the cards to people in Taiwan, not to Muslim countries, but we still want to thank Imam Ma for reminding us," the Liberty Times quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Chien-yeh as saying.

The Year of Pig begins on February 18 with the start of the Chinese New Year celebrations, the most important holiday for Chinese all over the world.

Last month, Taiwan's postal monopoly the Chunghwa Post Company Ltd. issued the Year of Pig stamp, but warned Taiwanese not to use the stamps when sending letters and parcels to Muslim countries or Muslim friends.

China has also banned images and mention of pigs in television advertisements aired over the lunar new year to avoid offending the country's Muslims.

China's ban also applies to cartoons and traditional paper-cut images of pigs, and to slogans such as "Golden Pig Brings You Fortune!" and "Wish You a Happy Pig Year!"

The Chinese lunar calendar follows the Chinese zodiac, or horoscope, which has a 12-year cycle. Each year is represented by an animal -- rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.

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From China Daily

According to the Chinese edition of the Asia Wall Street Journal, CCTV issued a notice to all advertising agencies on Jan 23 that "China is a multi-ethnic order to show respect to the Muslims, as instructed by the respective government unit, that CCTV will not air any ads containing images of the pig throughout 2007. This measures also applies to ads related to the Chinese New Year."

Images of the pig to be banned includes photographs, cartoons, paper cutting silhouettes, and even "Happy Year of the Pig" slogans.

Many corporations were surprised by the notice as most CNY ads have already been produced. Some just decided to re-do all CNY ads.

Nestle SA has initially prepared a smiling pig cartoon ad to celebrate "Happy Year of the Pig". Spokesperson said they would follow the requirements and change the content accordingly.

Coca Cola has prepared two sets of CNY cartoon ads with leading characters being a panda and a pig respectively. The company said they will still air the pig ad but will not air it in local TV stations where there is a large Muslim population.

Mindshare Shanghai told Deutsche Presse Agentur that the "No-Pigs" requirement was ordered by the Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party, which is responsible for ideological propaganda. The agency said the order was made by committee member Li Changchun, quoting fear of conflicts between ethnic groups.

CCTV refused to say from which department was the order being made, saying the notice was an "internal document".

China has about 8.6m Muslims. Ma Yunfu, vice chair of the Islam Society of China said Muslims hate pigs and they would not even mention the word "pig" in their daily life. Ma didn't know about the notice CCTV received, but he believed what the government wanted to do was to "immunize" against any possible troubles.

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Thursday, 25 January 2007

Greeting Card Email Malware Alert

From Security Park

"A major new malicious attack that has been affecting internet users since 2:00 GMT today. New variants of the Dorf family of malware (which had previously spread as breaking news of deaths caused by European storms) are now using disguises associated with love and greeting cards".

"A wide variety of subject lines are being used in the spam campaign, including "You're so Far Away", "I Dream of you", "Dream Date Coupon", "Together You and I", "A Bouquet of Love", "So in Love" and "Cuddle Up". Attached to the emails are files called 'flash postcard.exe' or 'greetingcard.exe'. When opened, the worm attempts to send itself to other email addresses found on the recipient's PC, while also attempting to download further malicious code from the internet, designed to take over the computer and use it to send spam on behalf of hacking gangs".

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Greetings from The White House

"The White House will send greeting cards signed by President Bush to commemorate special events, accomplishments or milestones free of charge to U.S. citizens. To request a greeting card from President Bush, just follow these guidelines from the White House Greetings Office:


The White House
Attn: Greetings Office
Washington, D.C. 20502-0039

(Requests made via email will not be processed.)*

Please review these guidelines carefully before mailing your request to the White House.

U.S. CITIZENS ONLY -- The White House will send greetings to United States citizens only, for special occasions as outlined below...".

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* .:Click:.

Saturday, 20 January 2007

Origamic Architecture - Pop-up Greeting Cards

Masahiro Chatani.

For more than 20 years, the Tokyo architect Masahiro Chatani, employing origami, the ancient Japanese art of paper-folding - and adding cut-paper and pop-up paper engineering concepts - has been creating works of "origamic architecture."

He is considered the leading practitioner of the art. More than 100 works by Chatani, his colleagues Keiko Nakazawa and Takaaki Kihara, and other artists from around the world are featured for the first time in a major American exhibition.

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Friday, 19 January 2007

Cool Cards Design Competition

Design a Greeting Card Competition.

WIN 20 Cool Cards Greeting Cards of your choice!
Simply Design a Cool Greeting Card!
Up to 3 entries per entrant! No purchase neccessary!

Competition Rules :

Competition Prize -- 20 Cool Cards Greeting Cards of Your Choice!

Email entries to -- with "Competition Entry" as the Subject.

Competition Theme -- Unrestricted! Let your imagination run wild! Any event, any occasion, any sentiment, any angle!

Brief --

- Design a Greeting Card.

- Maximum size 7" x 5" (17.78cm x 12.7cm - ish).
- Either Landscape or Portrait format.

- All entries must be in JPG image format.
- Maximum size 300kb.

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Tuesday, 16 January 2007

1,000 Greeting Cards Jobs Axed

Greeting Card Group has been sold to a management buyout team led by Alan Fort in a deal that will save 1,500 jobs, administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers said today.

The new business will still be run by the current chief executive of Greeting Card Group, Milton Guffogg, while Mr Fort becomes the new chairman. The sale saves 1,500 jobs and just under 300 stores across the UK as well as the firm's head office in Peterborough.

When the company collapsed into administration two weeks ago, it had 470 branches employing more than 2,500 people. Two-thirds of the stores have been profitable.

The group is the second-largest card and gift retailer in the UK after Clinton Cards, and trades under the Cardfair and Card Warehouse brands.

The greeting card market is worth around £2bn and Greeting Card Group's core stores have been and are expected to continue to be successful, the administrators said.

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Saturday, 6 January 2007

Greeting Cards betray attitudes toward elderly

Photo by David Shield

Currently in her second year of her Masters program in Applied Social Psychology, Shannon Ellis says birthday cards have a habit of betraying society’s attitudes towards growing old. Studying the content of 150 age-related birthday cards, Ellis discovered that 66.7 per cent of the cards “represented aging in a negative manner.” Co-written by the National University of Ireland’s Todd Morrison, the study appeared in last year’s issue of The International Journal of Aging and Human Development.

“The take-home message of our research wasn’t in any way to degrade or try and berate card manufacturers, or tell people not to buy birthday cards. The idea was to consider whether or not the recipient is going to view that card in the same light that you are,” she says.

Comparing her results to studies done in the U.S. in the early 1980s, Ellis was surprised that not much has changed in the world of age related birthday cards in the last 25 years. The amount of negative stereotyping hovered around the same number; and so did the areas the cards focused on – physical decline, forgetfulness, etc. Ellis’ surprise stems mainly from the fact the purportedly powerful baby boom generation is getting ready to retire. While she believes ‘boomers’ are still influential drivers of the economy, she says birthday cards may have stayed the same because younger people are traditionally the people buying them.

“Most of the time, these cards are being purchased by somebody who’s younger and given to somebody who’s older. So that person is seeing that card as being funny, but they may not be considering that the person they’re giving it to is someone who is very conscious of their aging and has issues with it.”

The study also found that cards dealing with older seniors (70-100 years) were predominantly written in the past tense, subtly projecting the notion that older seniors’ lives are basically over by this point.

“An example was, ‘Lives you’ve touched, friendships you’ve made, wisdom gained, happiness known are all reasons to celebrate.’ And they were often written in that sort of way, saying you need to live in your memories, because you have nothing left to contribute. This was rather an interesting finding that wasn’t found in any of the other research,” she says.

While Ellis admits her study, conducted in Red Deer, Alberta, was fairly small-scale, she believes a larger study in a major centre encompassing the new phenomenon of internet cards and focus groups with seniors could yield some interesting results.

And as she winds up her Masters program, Ellis says she plans on continuing her academic study of seniors and how they’re treated in society.

“Seniors are often invisible in our society, which is very sad. I don’t think it’s going to stay that way once the baby boomers get older. They are going to become very prevalent in society. They are going to be out there advocating for their rights and the rights of seniors, and as they become more noticeable and out there in society, you’re going to start seeing some changes.”

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Greeting Card Writer - Nicole Fraser

From Occupational Outlook Quarterly.

Trips to the mailbox are happier because of Nicole Fraser’s work. As a greeting card writer at American Greetings in Cleveland, Ohio, Nicole has been a part of millions of birthdays, special occasions, and everyday hellos. "I use my creativity to bring people closer together," she says. "That’s a great feeling."

Greeting card writers help people express thoughts and sentiments. "Greeting cards have to feel very personal, as if the words apply to you specifically," says Nicole. "But they also have to feel very personal to thousands of other card shoppers." To accomplish this feat, writers look for emotions many people share, such as the feeling of freedom after graduating from school.

Card writers like Nicole usually write to fill a specific request. Their editors tell them the types of cards the company needs, such as cards for a birthday or a Mother’s Day line. Editors give writers information about the card’s sender and receiver, including details about their ages, genders, and relationship to each other.

To find common themes to write about, Nicole follows the latest cultural trends. She reads modern poetry, looks through magazines and comic strips, and skims popular novels, including Oprah’s Book Club selections—all of which are in her company’s library. Other card writers in her office read sociology and psychology books and watch television shows. "We have to know the language people are using today," she says.

Greeting card writers choose their prose to fit the sender, whose style of speech is often different from their own. "One of the hardest things for me to learn was how to write for male card senders," Nicole says. "There are some words that men typically don’t use in conversation, like ‘treasure,’ ‘joy,’ or ‘precious.’" For teenagers, Nicole might use slang; for younger people, she uses short, simple words. All writers learn the speaking styles of different types of people in different situations.

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Greeting Card Psychology

From Psychology Today

The nation's purveyors of social expression have no formal mechanism for tapping the national mood or figuring out the relationship needs of Americans. Industry giants Hallmark and Gibson admit that the greetings they proffer are not the result of a very scientific process. In fact, they rely more on a random blast of staffer intuition than on national surveys, focus groups, or mall interviews...

...If given a chance, however, professional keepers of the American psyche would offer greeting-card makers the following advice:

o Get hip to the modern household and its diversity of relationships. California psychologist Carole Lieberman would like to see more cards for divorced couples on good terms, and cards addressing step- and half-children, parents, grandparents, and other kin affected by a break-up.

o Get specific. Today's greeting cards virtually ignore AIDS, cancer, heart disease, and mental illness. Greeting cards might be a tasteful, non-offensive way of connecting to and acknowledging people isolated by disease in a hospital or at home.

o Trash the sugar-coated prose. Most cards err on the side of pretense, either too stiff or too flowery. Recipients don't know what to make of modern card-style poetry: "Is it friendly love, marry me love, or just a cute joke?" asks Lieberman.

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Understanding Emotions

Essential information for the aspiring Greeting card writer.

From BBC Radio 4 - Emotional Rollercoaster.

Why have we evolved to experience emotions?

The emotions have long been ignored by psychologists, who have concentrated on more easily measurable processes like memory and learning. But social scientists are now finally focussing on feelings, as evidence piles up that we are at the mercy of our emotions.

Emotions are defined as complex reactions that engage our bodies and minds. After the success of the first series of Emotional Rollercoaster, Claudia Hammond climbs aboard again to examine 5 more emotions. In each programme she'll range from why we've evolved to experience it to how the brain produces it, introducing us both to the scientists who are conducting the latest research and to people like you and me who ride the emotional rollercoaster daily.

Listen again - Series 1 -
Fear, Anger, Guilt & Shame, Sadness and Jealousy

Listen again - Series 2 - Disgust, Joy, Sympathy, Love and Hope

Greeting Card Writers

Ever wondered about the working lives of Greeting Card writers?

From Writer's Block.

How do you personally come up with new ideas?

RD: I keep paper with me all the time. Sometimes I'll get the first six lines and I need two lines to end the piece and I struggle with it all day and it will hit me while I'm walking. Hallmark brings in a lot of educators for us to listen to, people who are experts in sociology and the way people relate. We also have visiting lecturers from different art schools or different writers. We've had a lot of big writers come and give workshops and that kind of helps you get unstuck.

We've also got a huge creative library with periodicals for designers, and writers and editors. It's not really hard to come up with ideas because I love the study of relationships. If I have to write for a situation that I haven't personally experienced, I think of a friend or a relative who has. Or I'll watch a movie or read a book. The study of human nature is so fascinating; it's not hard for me to imagine what somebody's feeling or thinking. Getting it down in the right words is tricky.

What makes a good greeting card?

RD: A card that someone picks up and says "God, they were thinking exactly of me when they wrote this." The beauty of that circumstance is that we were thinking of you and that it works for you, but it works for about 100,000 other people too. It's just the whole science of emotions. We're all a lot more alike than we know we are. People also appreciate honesty in greeting cards. If something sounds like it's really sincere and there's an important message behind it — it's not just something strung together — that makes all the difference in the world.

What makes a good greeting card writer?

JH: The best writers here tend to be people who are well read, and who have a lot of different frames of reference. The other thing that really supports greeting card writing is having a life of your own. I think it's sort of the negative capability that Keats talks about when he wrote about Shakespeare being able to step into somebody else's mind. And in a way it's like an actor's skill, because you have to be able to project yourself into somebody else's situation or make a connection between your own and theirs. I've always assumed that I'm not so different from everybody else.

RD: A good greeting card writer has to be able to open her heart for other people to see and not be embarrassed about being called foolish or too personal or too sentimental. The difference between a greeting card writer and other types of writers is that we're all about emotion. Hallmark is often held up as a common object of ridicule. People will say "that sounds like a schmaltzy Hallmark card" but not all our cards are that way. You always run the risk when you're writing from the heart for somebody to say "that's a little bit more than I wanted to know."

SE: Anyone who can think of fresh, funny, or clever ideas, and who can have a good sense of what is likely to sell. That and a willingness to sit and work on it for a long time. It's a business where you can't afford to claim writer's block because you've got to keep producing. The biggest challenge is that your subject matter is so limited. You're dealing with the same topics again and again. You're always going to have another requisition for birthday and for Christmas and Valentine's Day. That, especially, is one of our challenges in traditional humour. In alternative humour, I think they can range a little bit more and have looser tie-ins between the occasion and whatever joke they're making. We are generally expected to provide a pretty direct message about the occasion. What do you say for the hundredth time you've been working on birthdays? What could possibly be new?

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Greeting Card Production

Ever wondered about how Greeting cards are produced?


Raw materials

Greeting cards are made of card stock that may be of wood pulp or part "rag" (textile waste)—sturdy, fairly expensive paper. Increasingly, these card stocks are being made with recycled materials. Many, but not all, of the companies put a glossy aqueous coating consisting of water and a water-based acrylic coating on the stock after printing particularly when a photograph is featured. Inks vary as well. Many companies are moving toward the use of soy inks, containing water-based solvents and are more easily cleaned, recycled, or disposed of than oil-based solvent inks. Soy ink composition varies with the printing process; cards are most often printed using sheet-fed printing and the soy ink for that includes between 20%-30% soybean oil, resins, pigments, and waxes.

The Manufacturing Process

The manufacture of greeting cards varies greatly depending on the size of the corporation. Successful greeting card companies put a great deal of importance on business research, marketing, and creative design because these help determine what cards will sell well.

Research and marketing

  • Generally, before the artists and verse writers begin to put pen to paper, large companies support in-house researchers that learn all they can about potential buyers. These researchers find out all they can about consumers' wants, needs, and concerns that can be addressed in a greeting card not already in production. The researchers use statistical analysis, market research, and research on lifestyle changes. Once the Research Department has an idea for a new card line, they utilize focus groups, surveys, and controlled store tests to gauge the potential of the new product. For example, research may indicate that changes in the American family calls for cards that acknowledge step-siblings, or suggest that soaring numbers of cat owners will lead to a successful line of cards offering sympathy on the death of a pet.

Designing the card

  • Smaller greeting card companies sometimes contract designers to provide sketches and ideas they feel will be good sellers and fit their niche markets. However, in larger companies, the Research and Marketing departments work closely with the Creative Department in order to collaboratively devise a new card. These larger companies employ an in- house creative staff that includes artists, graphic designers, photographers, writers, editors, and copywriters. This staff provides the illustrations and verse featured in the product. The Creative Department "marries" the sketch to the appropriate verse and creates a hand-made card. Once the Marketers and Researchers are pleased with these mock-ups are examined and rated by consumer panels or focus groups. The prototypes deemed most marketable are then moved into technical production.

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Writing for Greeting Cards

From the Greeting Card Association.

We have all looked at cards and thought 'I could do that!'

However, it is hard to get a piece of writing published. It is only when you decide to have a go yourself that you come to appreciate that, somewhere along the line, talent and skill actually come into it.

So what is the best way to go about it? Where do you start?
There are generally three styles of writing in greeting cards:

  • Verse
  • Prose
  • Punchlines

What is your forte?

What are you best at? Usually the best way to start is by acknowledging your strengths. Even if you can turn your hand to any style there will usually be one at which you excel.

Research the market.

The best place is your local high street card shop. Go in take a look, see who the publishers are in the market you are aiming for and take a note of the publisher. This is important, you can imagine how unprofessional is would look to send a punchline to someone whose cards are blank! Most publishers do print their names and addresses on the reverse of the card. It is worth jotting down as much as you can.

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World's Biggest Greeting Card?

From Daily India.

A 62-feet New Year greeting card for President APJ Abdul Kalam.

An ardent fan of President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, from Madhubani in Bihar, has posted a 62-feet long New Year greeting card carrying signatures of 2,500 students. Alamgir Dilkash, who works as a schoolteacher in Madhubani, decorated the greeting card by penning down President Kalam's achievements on it.

Dilkash said he had sent a fifty-feet greeting card to President Kalam last year.

"I have prepared 62 feet long greeting card for him. I have mentioned President Kalam's lifetime achievements in the card. The card carries children's signatures because he loves them a lot. It took me over two months to prepare it. Initially, the children were hesitant to sign but when they were told it is for President Kalam, they signed it with enthusiasm," said Alamgir.

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BBC Radio - Greeting Cards

From BBC Radio Shop Talk.

Perhaps you didn't know but in Britain we send more greetings cards per head than any other country in the world.
Our market is worth £1.5 billion a year, and we spend more on cards that we do on tea and coffee. And it was in the UK that the industry was born 150 yrs ago by the man who was responsible for the penny post - Sir Henry Cole. History aside, why do we send so many cards and why, in this regard, are we so unlike our cousins in continental Europe?

And can men in any numbers be persuaded to buy cards. Currently 85% of all purchases are made by women. And in the future might the industry come under threat as e-greetings - on computers and mobiles - come of age?


David Orr
president The Greeting Card Association

Janie Markham
The Art Group

Mike Bugler
Clinton Cards

Sandra Louden
greeting card message writer & Author: Write Well & Sell: Greeting Cards & A Few, Choice Words: Short "Do-Able" Writing That Sells

Sarah Danby
co-founder Cinnamon Aitch

Tom Hewlett
The Portland Gallery

Will Walsh
founder Sharp Cards

Listen again to this interview

Antique Greeting Cards - Collecting

From BBC Antiques.

Greetings cards have exchanged hands since the 18th century and are now a popular collecting area. Clive Farahar from the Antiques Roadshow, has advice on starting a collection; where to buy, what to avoid and affordable cards to collect.

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BBC Woman's Hour - Greeting Cards

From BBC Radio 4.

"Here in Britain we send more cards that other country in the world. Two point two billion every year. It takes a dedicated army of verse composers to feed that hungry industry and most of these writers tend to be women. Cindy Selby met two of them, Elaine Greenall from Milton Keynes and Milly Johnson from Yorkshire".

Listen again to this interview


Thursday, 4 January 2007

New Year Greetings from Cool Cards

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

~Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1850

Two of the most popular greeting card ranges on the Cool Cards site feature emotional, heart-felt quotations from Quotable Cards along with a sensitively considered quotation and image range from M.I.L.K.

Old Soviet Russian New Year Greeting Cards.

From Mazaika, a wonderful collection.

"More than 700 Russian Soviet New Year greeting cards".

"Here you can see postcards of soviet era (1950 - 1990).

You can find here pictures of soviet Santa - Ded Moroz.
His daughter (or may be girlfriend) Snegurochka - snow girl.
Soviet Xmas tree - Yolochka - with Russian Red Star on top.
Snowman - Snegovik - made by soviet children - Oktyabryata.
nd many other funny creatures big and small.
And also 200+ vintage European Christmas greeting cards..."

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Greeting Cards Back in Fashion

From The Georgian Times

"...greeting cards were widely used to promote Soviet ideology, and you could see a number of cards with Stalin’s image, and much-proclaimed Soviet slogans in Soviet times too. Christmas cards were also given a political spin. Despite print runs of as high as 30 million in USSR, well-wishers of the 1950s and 1960s were left with little consumer choice, since the same few designs were repeated year after year. Rather than folding cards, the New Year cards of this period were often flat, with designs inspired by the latest economic achievements: rockets, lit-up apartment blocks and building cranes. For instance, Space themes dominated the Christmas cards in 1960s-70s. One card shows a spaceman dragging a fir-tree, another a Russian Ded Moroz (Santa Claus) is a space descending the gangway of the spaceship, and still another showing the horses of Ded Moroz flying along the rockets...".

Read more

Read more - about Georgia

Monday, 1 January 2007

Cool Cards Featured in Zink Magazine

Cool Cards are proud to be featured in the December edition of Zink!
"...which certainly explains why this UK site features more than its fair share of innovative cards from an assortment of creators and presses...".

"Zink is an American magazine that showcases emerging and reinvented talent in the world of international fashion, beauty, design, art and entertainment.

Zink’s readers have intensified social instincts and a heightened sense of justice. They feel that power comes from both outward appearance and intellect. They are extremely interested in fashion, beauty, style and entertainment. Zink readers
approach life with an attitude centered around sharp satire and irony, and expand their horizons by questioning the world around them.

CRAZY: This group experienced a lot growing up: their parents getting divorced, AIDS era, downsized parents, Internet, gangs and ramped up TV violence and sex. As a result they were driven to independence. Because they were not coddled like the generation behind them (Gen Y), they have entrepreneurial spirits and eclectic styles.

SEXY: This group is all about being sexy; mind, body and soul. They adore fashion idols and supermodels. Their quest for early independence helped them take charge and show the power of their voice. They are highly educated: book smart and street smart. Their entrepreneurial ways push them to defy and question traditional structures. Nothing is sexier than confidence and wit!

COOL: They possess fierce and intelligent sarcasm, imagination and creativity. They adore fortune, fame, spirituality, social consciousness, technology, nostalgia, sensuality and gender neutral perspectives."

Visit Zink Magazine

Read more at Wiki

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