___ + ___ = so-and-so

As I was driving today, I was trying to sort out why it is so difficult for me to think of this hobby of mine (making cards designed for specific people) as a business.  It’s one thing to mass produce a generic “thank you” card on white paper with fancy black print.  It’s an entirely different ballgame when you create something that will only ever be made once and will only ever be for one person.  A special thing, no doubt.

Even if two people order a card of the same design for someone, no two will ever be alike.  The paper might be cut at a slightly different angle because a breeze came through my kitchen and shifted it ever-so-slightly; or I may not press down as hard on the “s” key on my robin’s-egg-blue typewriter when typing “thanks” on the 7th card in a 10 card set.  It will never be the same each time.  Same design, just altered a bit here and there.

Not only does this minor irregularity describe the whole of humanity; the elements used to make these cards are also a wonderful example of how we are all truly connected as a species.

I used to work as a Children’s Librarian in Mountain Brook, Alabama.  It was an incredible job and I was lucky enough to work with some incredible individuals.  However, this time last year, I decided to move to New Haven, CT.  So, on my last day at the Emmet O’Neal Library, I presented each of my co-workers with a card containing a message describing what I loved about each of them.   They were all carefully designed – patterns were chosen deliberately and paper was cut/torn with sincere intention.  Each little element on each little card was meant to speak directly to the person for whom the card was made.  I remember one in particular; perhaps because it spoke of my personality, as well.  Rachel, someone with whom I not worked very long.  She was actually coming in to take my place in the Children’s Dept.  Rachel is a quirky, super-fun and “chill” sort of person.  Her card looked like this:

If you think about all of the pieces separately – it makes NO sense.  A weird illustration of a dog(?), another, rather whimsical illustration of a bottle from a chemistry set and, in the background, 2 illustrated stalks of bamboo.  Her name is hand-written and the rest is typewritten on the aforementioned typewriter, attached with 2 mustard yellow brads and a halo of hemp.  But altogether, it just works.  It’s “Rachel.”  Asian influence and mad science come together and somehow, configured in a particular way, they resonate with a person who has no connection to Asian illustration and/or the periodic table.

It’s fascinating to me.  And I love that this is my work.  Peace.


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