Austin & the world: Thoughts about cards

Thank you to everyone who came out to TCAF last week! Man alive, that was a fun show. I saw so many friends, picked up some really neat books to read, and enjoyed the city of Toronto in a pleasant and life-affirming way. I love that TCAF is in a library, and that it’s free to attend — it positions the show as a cultural event and something with a low barrier to entry, rather than a remote, cavernous media circus (or dingy swap meet aspiring to the level of media circus), and it attracts a literate, curious, and enthusiastic crowd. My kudos to Chris Butcher for his hard work putting the show together, and I already can’t wait till next year!

I hope this coming weekend goes just as well! The latest (and near-to-last) leg of my Absurdly Exhaustive Spring Book Tour finds me in Austin, Texas at the Renegade Craft Fair! It’s a FREE event held at Palmer Events Center this Saturday and Sunday, and I hope you’ll come check it out. This is an entirely new type of show for me, and I’m keen to watch it unfold, hopefully into a pleasing and elegant shape.

I’m hoping that you, the lovely and kind Wondermark reader with an easy smile yet distinct sense of boundaries, will come out to say hello, since I haven’t been in Austin for a while — but another big chunk of my time at shows is always spent meeting new folks, handing out flyers and sample comics, and doing my level best to spread the word about my little operation here. I’ve found that the success of the pitch is strongly related to the tenor of the show itself (insofar as certain events tend to attract certain types of people), and I’ve spent all week coming up with stuff for the table that’ll hopefully speak the language of this show in particular.

I’ve sold greeting cards for quite some time, of course — right now they’ve been shifted to a lower priority as far as online sales go, just because I haven’t had time to process orders between all the traveling of these last few months — but they’ve always been their own thing, a collection of gags that looked and sounded kind of like Wondermark but shared no overlap in content with the other stuff I create. It struck me yesterday that there’s no reason I can’t take some of my more interesting design work (for books or other projects) and adapt it all into art-print and note-card form in a way that might be arresting to someone wandering the halls of this craft fair, waiting for something to strike their eye — so that’s what I’ve spent a few days working on. I’ve now got a whole new complement of cards and prints I’m eager to share with you (and eager to test out in the world), and depending on how they do, we may see quite an expansion of my online card offerings. I’ve been very pleased with the reception my holiday and Valentine cards in particular have had, and I’m definitely keeping all the existing lines alive — but I’d like to do more, much more, as well.

So let me ask you: What do you look for in greeting cards, occasion cards, or note cards? What are the things to keep in mind, the occasions or themes you care about, or things that frustrate you about existing cards (mine or others out there in the world) that I could do better? I’m keen to hear your thoughts — please comment on this post, and I’ll take it all into consideration. Thanks very much for your feedback!

And Austin, you’ll get a sneak peek at the new cards! See you at the fair!

8 thoughts on “Austin & the world: Thoughts about cards”

  1. Something that always bugs me is the gender stereotyping. According to the cards, Dads are golf-playing, lazy TV-watching fishermen. Moms are responsible, house-cleaning homebodys who drink martinis. It’d be nice to see some cards that weren’t designed for folks from the 1950’s.

  2. I love good paper. It has to take well to a fountain pen without smearing, feathering, or blurring. Usually this already means the paper will look nice, feel nice, and smell nice.

  3. I look for cards that make me laugh. Or at least smile. I can do sappy on my own, but people who get cards from me have already heard all my jokes.

  4. I really enjoy the style of your comics but honestly the more I visit your site I really enjoy your sketches even more. You should really try a few of those out. I’ve bought some of your Valentine cards. My girlfriend loved them. Perhaps they should be literally able to steal hearts and be powered by flowers and chocolate? Although Apple probably has a patent on that already.

  5. Strong, beautiful art. Originality. Distinctiveness.

    I thought your “blogging shepherds” Christmas card was cute, and I bought a box. But it didn’t excite me. Something along the lines of Steamovak would excite me.

    I loved Squibnocket cards (, but I’m not sure you can get them anymore.

    My recent favorites are an old-fashioned poster reading “WANTED: The person responsible for putting candles on the cake . . . a heinous tradition and a serious fire hazard . . . BEWARE THE FLAMING CAKE” and a Valentine featuring an octopus.

  6. I’m looking for something that speaks to me, anything that speaks to me, on a level I get, but don’t understand.

  7. I like the humor of the Christmas cards and their availability in a variety pack. I still try to send out birthday cards whenever possible, and I like to be unique … and your cards fit that bill perfectly. Also, I keep a supply of note cards with my name across the top for just a quick dash-off — a thank you, a “thinking of you,” etc. I second the above about good quality paper … I’ve skewed more toward Papyrus-style cards than Hallmark-style.

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