Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Greeting Card Writers Lack Empathy, Imagination

Sad and lonely Hallmark writers...

Aspiring greeting card writers be warned. It's not necessarily the life of wild women, fast cars and celebrity lifestyle you might have imagined. Oh no. Most likely it could lead to a sad and lonely existence with neither friends nor family. And god help you if you're an Atheist greeting card writer. The chances of happiness? Slim to none.
Needless to say, the dangers of seeking solace in hard drugs and alcohol become all too apparent. This is a high risk occupation and not one to be taken lightly. When the deadline approaches for that Anniversary verse and the clock ticks down can you fake it? Well? Have you got what it takes?

Christian mentalist Tim Challies appears to suggest that greeting card writers lack empathy, creativity and imagination in his blog
Sadly, he goes on to state that they "...return alone to an empty home and a life lived alone".
"Have you ever stopped to consider what it must be like to work for Hallmark or another of the companies that create greeting cards? Imagine spending your whole day attempting to come up with wonderful statements of deep feeling—love, remorse, sympathy—yet without feeling any of the associated emotions. Imagine having to write words that express sympathy, yet not feeling any sympathy yourself. Or imagine having to write words that can express the deep, passionate love a man has for his wife as they celebrate fifty years of marriage, but without having ever experienced that sort of love yourself. It must be very odd to spend the whole day writing words of love and passion from a husband to a wife but then return alone to an empty home and a life lived alone."

I wonder why Tim chose greeting card writers (and Hallmark writers especially) as opposed to scriptwriters, authors, poets, songwriters or indeed any endeavour which benefits from creativity, imagination, free-thinking and perhaps most importantly, empathy? I wonder if Tim when he reads a book or watches a film constantly asks himself "Yes, but has the author personally experienced all these things?" Does Tim question the authenticity, let alone accuracy or truth, of all he experiences? Critical and historical review of, say, the Bible, reveals much of it to be wildly inaccurate, mis-translated and apocryphal. Yet here, Tim, as a rational human being, is more than able to suspend his disbelief as regards this Murder Mystery! How strange...

Lay off the creative free-thinkers Tim and look elsewhere for your analogies.


Sunday, 15 June 2008

Father's Day Exposé

Are Dads Portrayed Fairly in the Media and Greeting Cards?
Joeprah on Father's Day Cards...

"Happy Father's Day You Lazy Alcoholic

Is this what society is saying to dads across America? The answer seems to be a resounding yes. If you have been shopping for a Father’s Day card for your husband/father/father-in-law you may have had to sift through the less than flattering clichés cards that portray dads in a none too favorable light. Moms have to deal with cliché cards too, but theirs aren’t based on them being horrible people. According to the cards, moms cook, clean, have rollers in their hair, juggle many things at once, and eat chocolate. Dads on the other hand are very different. According to the greeting cards I surveyed this year, dads are poor caregivers, drink in excess, constantly golf and or fish, pass gas constantly, grill food 24/7, seldom leave the cozy confines of their couch except to spend hours in the bathroom, and if they ever get lost on the way to the bathroom they never ever ask for directions..."

Source: Fatherhood Examiner
Source: My Life As A Stay At Home Dad

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Why does the UK have the WORST greeting cards??

Greeting cards: Cultural differences... UK - USA

Delightful banter from some of our cousins...

"The cards here are shockingly horrible, they either have a joke about farting, football or drinking on them or they have freaking teddy bears!
Now I know why I try to stock up when I go to the states!!!"

"I LOVE greeting cards here. The funny ones are hysterical. My whole family looks forward to the cards I send for birthdays and stuff. We have a really mean/inappropriate sense of humor, so I guess they just push the boundary a bit more than Shoebox cards."

"it seems to be impossible to just buy a cheap and cheerful card. I just can't bring myself to spend more than a couple pounds on a card but it seems like you have to if you want something nice. Especially for men - i.e. Father's Day. I just want to get a card without alcohol or sports prominently featured on it!"

"You name it I have shopped there, high street, boutiques, Clinton, Asda, Tesco, independant shops...everywhere. I just think the cards here are pants! Total pants! I am not a big fan of cards anyway, I would rather give someone a phone call or buy them a drink. This isn't going to be a popular view, but what a waste of money greetings cards are! £2 that you throw away a few weeks later! Bah Humbug I say!"

"That's bizarre! I've never ever heard anyone complain about greeting cards in the UK before! In fact, when I lived in the US, most of the cards I bought were imported from the UK."

"I've always found it to be the other way around - I think the stores in the US have terrible card selections - although maybe that's because I'm British and am used to the UK-style cards."

"I agree with Racheee--the "regular places" Clinton, Hallmark, etc. don't do it for me at all. Enough with the teddy bears and balloons already! There is one small independant place in my neighborhood that has great cards--classy, cute, artistic--really good ones. I know cards are sort of a waste of paper and money, but sometimes you've gotta do it, when it's expected--like Mother's Day, etc. I used to make my own, but lately I don't have the time to do that."

"I *really* had a hard time finding my dad a Father's Day card here. He's not into boats, golf, beer, or fishing and he's *not* the "greatest dad", etc. That being said I do think I had a hard time finding him cards in the US as well."

"I can't stand the silly sentimental poems in American greeting cards! There seem to be more lovely blank cards here, for those of us who like to use our own words. I haven't actually noticed teddy bears on British cards, either, but I certainly wouldn't buy one like that. I seem to remember a lot of cutesy teddy bears at Hallmark, though. I guess they're everywhere ... because I guess people do buy them."

"I prefer blank cards myself but the choice here is very limited, as far as what I have found. I found in the states you weren't restricted to soppy stuff, in fact Hallmark has really pushed the envelope (ah bad pun) in terms of creating cards that run the gamut from sop to straight and simple."

"ooo...see I'm different. I could always find the funny cards in the U.S. a lot easier than I can over here! I think the difference being is pretty much what everyone has already said, over here any funny cards have to do with farting, drinking, naked ole men, fishing, boating, etc. My dad isn't like that and I don't do sentinmental cards as that's just not how we are. I used to find the best funny cards in the states! Now I have just taken to buying a decent card making program and do my own!! And I definately don't do sentinmental card as my mom is already mental and I don't want hear about it! (Kind of think Stacey Slater's momn just not so dramatic)."

"I love Edward Monkton - I've sent some of those that have brought tears to my eyes (from laughing, obviously!)"

Source: UK Yankee. Americans in the UK

- Edward Monkton Cards, as mentioned above, available from
Cool Cards

Thursday, 12 June 2008

RHS Photographic Competition 2008

Royal Horticultural Society - The Medici Award
For photos of gardens and plants that would make a successful card design.

The Medici Photographer of the Year : Image made into the 2009 RHS/Medici greeting card.

The RHS Photographic Competition, supported by fine art publisher The Medici Society, is for aspiring greeting card designers. Enter an eye catching and commercially savvy photo to win the title of Medici Photographer of the Year and your image will be made into a greeting card.

Here's some advice on choosing an image from Medici CEO, Graeme Derby: “Buying a card is an emotional practice and the card design must move its buyer. Often the picture has to fit a specific purpose, Valentine’s Day or a thank you card. The colours are often bright and the focal point must rest in the top half of the card – so when it’s on display in a shop, the image is not hidden by the stack of cards in front of it. It’s definitely an intriguing process we go through when we buy a card – I think the old slogan, I saw this and thought of you, sums it up best.”

What makes a successful card design?

  1. Content choice - does the image fit the occasion; will it seduce the consume; is it a familiar image to the consumer (familiar image=recognition) or alternatively is it unusual and thus attracts our attention for this quality.
  2. Focal point – If you mentally divide your screen into three horizontal and three vertical sections, where the lines intersect are focal points. Focal points are what the eyes naturally seek out when they look at a photograph. They may also come through contrasting elements of light and dark, scale, an isolated image, or simply through placement.
  3. Unity – the elements of the imagery belong together. If the various elements are not harmonious, if they appear separate or unrelated your composition falls apart and lacks unity.
  4. Colour – Properties of colour to consider are hue, intensity, complementary colours and colour discord.
  5. Use of balance – A distribution of visual weight within a composition. A sense of balance – generally an innate lack of balance or imbalance disturbs us. However this does not mean that there is no place for purposeful imbalance. An unbalanced image can often interest us and attract our attention for exactly this quality.
  6. Texture – the surface quality of objects. Texture appeals to our sense of touch. Even when we do not actually feel an object, our memory provides a sensory reaction or sensation of touch.
  7. Scale and proportion – realistic. How is the image filing the space?
Competition details and entry form : RHS

Friday, 6 June 2008

Happy Birthday Henry - 112 Today!

"cigarettes, whisky and wild women..."

"Britain's oldest man, thought to be one of three surviving UK World War I veterans, is celebrating reaching his 112th birthday.

Henry Allingham, who was born in London on 6 June 1896, is also the last surviving original member of the Royal Air Force - formed 90 years ago.

Mr Allingham, from Ovingdean, near Brighton, will celebrate at Royal Air Force College Cranwell, Lincolnshire.

The event will include a fly past by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

There will also be a parachute jump display.

The event will be attended by Air Vice Marshal Peter Dye (retd) and Vice Admiral Sir Adrian Johns.

As well as the fly past and the parachute jump by the Royal Air Force Falcons Parachute Display Team, Mr Allingham's birthday will be marked by a visit from local school children who will give him a cake.


Now partially deaf and almost blind, Mr Allingham, who was born in Clapham, London, now lives at St Dunstan's home for blind ex-servicemen, in Ovingdean.

His life has spanned six monarchs and has taken in 21 prime ministers.

Mr Allingham is the last survivor of the Battle of Jutland in 1916, and also fought at the Somme and Ypres where he was bombed and shelled.

He joined the Royal Air Force when it was formed from the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) and the Army's Flying Corps in 1918.

His many medals and honours include the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and the Legion D'Honneur - the highest military accolade awarded by France.

He has joked that the secret to his longevity is "cigarettes, whisky and wild women".

BBC News (includes video)
Henry Allingham