Anna Guthrie spends the days leading up to Valentine’s Day submerged in watercolors, pens and puns, puzzling over ways to bring a little bit of charm and amusement into people’s lives through handmade cards.
The junior art major and several other Union University art students will sell Valentine’s Day cards in the SUB hallway on Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The sale, put on by the Union chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts, will offer cards for as little as $1.50 for a pack of four.
The cards will come in a variety of styles, from geometric prints to hand-painted watercolors.
“That’s probably my favorite part, making them adorable and not just generic,” Jessica Coats, senior art major and president of AIGA at Union, said. “That can be really hard. There’s always the ones that have a Bible verse and a flower in watercolor and trying to find a new way to do it is always a challenge.”
Guthrie often gets her inspiration from puns, such as a card with a honeycomb and bees that says “you make my heart buzz” or butterflies flitting around with “you give me butterflies” written in flowing calligraphy. This year, she is also creating smaller cards with Star Wars puns.
“Puns give you somewhere to start and everyone loves them,” she said, laughing.
After getting an idea, she starts drawing or painting it. Then, she’ll scan it onto a computer and rearrange, edit or tweak it before she prints it out. With a clear idea, the process can take 30 minutes to an hour.
“But it’s not ever really like that. Normally, you have to fail a couple of times to get it right,” Guthrie said. “Often I’ll do little spurts of things in different areas.”
As an artist, Coats appreciates the nonverbal insight that customers provide.
“We learn what works best, like if someone is trying out a really geometrical design versus something that’s organic in form…what works best, what sells best,” Coats said.
“I learned from the last sale that romantic cards do not sell on Union’s campus,” Guthrie said. “So I make a lot of cards that could be friendship cards because those sell really well, because there’s a lot of cards that I’d give to my friends.”
Guthrie has been selling her cards through the Jackson Pop-Up Shop and hopes to someday design cards for a living.
“Stationary design and paper products in general, I think it’s a way of bringing beauty into the little everyday pieces of our lives – something that doesn’t have to be beautiful…but why not make it beautiful?” Guthrie said. “It just adds this element of beauty and intentionality to the little moments of our lives…when I’m designing paper goods and paper products, I just love it. I can’t really explain it, it’s so fun for me to do.”