The world of electronic greeting cards, or e-cards, and more specifically artistic animated cards, provides one of the most dynamic examples possible of the power that the Internet possesses to change for the better the way we all live. They harness the unique ability of the worldwide web to enhance the quality of our lives and relationships on a very human level and they are easily refined or adjusted by you if you have an artistic and creative mindset.
Most people will likely be familiar with ecards through the websites of the longtime major players in the paper-and-ink greeting cards business, Hallmark and American Greetings. Both companies’ sites provide an incomparably large selection of electronic greeting cards, literally thousands in a wide range of subjects and styles, which can at first produce the kind of overwhelmed feeling you get upon entering a brick-and-mortar card store.
If you’re searching for a card to email or send for a special occasion like Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, or a loved one’s birthday, you could well spend more time than you’d like just clicking and sampling.
Such efforts can lead to truly artistic results. Witness “Angels We Have Heard” from American Greetings (also available through the website of Blue Mountain, which the company acquired in 2001). As we hear a children’s choir sing the traditional carol of that title, a brilliant star descends from the night sky and illuminates an evergreen, streetlights, churches, and homes in a traditional wintry town, then rises back into the heavens to become the tip of a wand held by a beautiful angel.
Yes, it’s beautiful. But many of the big card companies’ offerings can have the slightly homogenized mass-market feeling of the printed greeting cards you encounter again and again in real-world stores. Furthermore, while these major players offer many free ecards, the best often cost money to send: a $13.99 annual membership with American Greetings, or $1.99 apiece from Hallmark. If you want to make your personalized greeting card all by yourself, you can use oil-based paint, acrylic paint, or water-born paint which is actually the preferred material for cards.
Ecard senders who want a more moving experience for their dollars have created a special niche for tasteful, boutique-style websites that express the singular sensibilities of true artistic souls. That was what happened with British artist Jacquie Lawson, who created one animated ecard to send to friends back in December 2000 and saw the overwhelmingly positive response turn into a multi-million-dollar business with hundreds of thousands of paying members.
The most popular and prolific of the 100 or so Jacquie Lawson choices are those featuring Chudleigh, the artist’s lovable Chocolate Labrador-Springer Spaniel crossbreed, who cheerfully scampers through a snowy country scene in the Christmas-themed “White Winter” or finds true love with a Yellow Labrador in the Valentine “Friends Forever.” So if you can turn an old window shutter into a nice letter holder (see one of the earlier posts here), making your personalized greeting card can be easy and a lot of fun!
The well-deserved attention Jacquie Lawson’s works receive could make it seem as if she’s the only player in this boutique category. In fact, other artists have also recognized this appealing opportunity to express themselves, launching websites that share their personal visions. Most impressive among these is artist Frederikke Tu, founder and creative visionary behind Ojolie. Her website currently offers more than two dozen different artistic animated ecards, with the selection growing by an average of two per month. An annual membership of $10 (or a bargain $15 for two years) provides unlimited access to personalize and send the cards. To learn how to avoid brush marks when making your own greeting cards, check out this post.
Befitting Tu’s international background (born in Sweden to Danish parents, she was raised in Denmark, the Netherlands, and Chile, studied and worked in the U.S., and currently lives and travels in Asia) and lifelong passion to excel as an artist, Ojolie’s choices are uncommonly beautiful and tasteful. They exquisitely combine her original watercolor paintings with intricate Flash animation and carefully chosen musical accompaniments to provide the recipients (and senders) of Ojolie’s animated ecards with aesthetic experiences that are surprisingly moving.
Its Christmas-themed “Snow Globe,” for example, lets the viewer watch a woodland scene within a snow globe magically come to real life. “Love Dance,” an ideal card for your Valentine, evokes enduring romance through the courtship dance of two Japanese red-crowned cranes against an evolving seasonal background featuring a snowy winter landscape, springtime cherry blossoms, summer’s butterflies, and colorful autumn leaves.
Such visionary creations make you want to keep and cherish them forever. (Indeed, Ojolie’s website even includes a “Shop” link that enables you to purchase printed versions of some of Frederikke Tu’s most beautiful website images.) They also leave the fan of artistic ecards eagerly awaiting the latest creations from websites such as Ojolie.