The Commuter Challenge

1 April 2008

The April 2008 Challenge

by CC @ 10:30

Create a greeting card for any occasion. Make a birthday card, a wedding invitation, a holiday card, or something completely new … anything. Mother’s Day is coming up in May, so that might be a timely project, but it’s completely up to you. Create the artwork for the front and the text for the inside.

The Results

Brian Raiter

Ryan Finholm

Note: Ryan’s entry was submitted after the deadline.


  1. Unnecessary clarification: This is probably already obvious, but I didn’t mean to suggest that submitters should do an “all-occasion” greeting card, but rather to choose any occasion and complete a card specific to that event or holiday or consideration.

    Though of course an all-occasion card is also an option. But again, that was probably clear from the get-go. I’ll shut up now.

    by RyanF — 2 April 2008 @ 11:11

  2. In order to motivate myself to really get creative on this on, I gave myself the extra requirement to create a card that I myself could appreciate (either giving or getting) non-ironically. Just about all the greeting cards I’ve ever purchased were given as jokes. (e.g. giving someone a card with a hideously sappy message for their birthday, or else a card reading “congratulation on your first communion”.) I had to think hard to remember cards that I’ve seen in the past that actually worked.

    In one sense this card is very appropriate for me to give, because I’m always forgetting occasions and having to apologize for it. But my mother is definitely not the kind of person who would appreciate this card. Plus she can’t stand to even think about dogs getting hurt, so this is just right out as far as she’s concerned.

    I had a lot of fun with inks on this one. I rarely deal with coloring things, but working on February’s illuminated page had left me motivated to expand my horizons. I used colored inks with a watercolor-style brush to do most of it. For the light blue background I had to use a pencil, so as not to smear the text into one big gray blotch.

    I spent some time mixing red and brown ink to get a good blood color, and wound up spilling red ink all over my fingers and blotting paper (plus a little bit on the table and floor). In the end it still didn’t look much like blood, so I wound up cheating and tweaking the color on the computer afterwards.

    by breadbox — 1 May 2008 @ 12:54

  3. And now for a little story.

    It was almost exactly twenty years ago. My brother, not really knowing what to do after high school, had signed up for the Marine Corps. He was initially stationed in Monterey, California. It’s a military town, and so had its share of anti-military sentiment running through the residents thereof. The soldiers had a strict rule that they couldn’t get into a fight with the locals unless they threw the first punch — a rule that was well known to the citizens. Thus, occasionally an angry youth would express his resentment of the military presence when some of its members were out on the town by trying to incite them, via taunts and insults, to start a fight and thus get in trouble.

    And so my brother and one of his fellow Marines found themselves being loudly insulted by a McDonalds employee in the parking lot of same. After insulting them at the cash register until they canceled their order and walked out, he had left his post to continue harassing them. My brother and his compatriot were offended enough to not want to just walk way, and so they kept inviting the kid to either throw a punch or shut up, but the younger man continued his barrage of abuse. Finally my brother pushed him up against the wall of the establishment, forcefully but with care in an attempt to avoid breaking the rule, and said, “Just go back inside and cook your little burgers.” He then released him and walked away, whereupon the young man pulled out a knife and jumped him from behind.

    Movies can give one a misleading idea of what it’s like to get cut by a knife. If it’s sharp, you don’t really notice it. As it was, my brother thought the kid was punching him. My brother threw him off his back, whereupon he quickly ran back into the restaurant. My brother and his friend walked away, thinking the interlude was finally over with. As they reached the sidewalk, my brother felt something damp on his stomach, and looked down to see a fresh splotch of red on his sweater.

    He had been stabbed in the stomach and the throat, and was rushed to the hospital. but thankfully the blade managed to avoid doing any permanent damage. Intestines, windpipe, nerve trunks — all of these were spared. My brother was in the hospital for several days, of course, but it could easily have been so much worse.

    The morning after the attack my parents boarded an airplane and flew to Monterey. When they arrived at the hospital my brother was conscious but intubated, making it difficult for him to talk. At one point during their visit my brother pointed over at his duffel bag, sitting near his bed. “Look inside,” he whispered raspily.

    My mother is not particularly focused on the homemaker’s arts, but she can knit. And every once in a while she knits sweaters for one of us. It takes her months to complete one, especially the ones for me or my brother, with our long arms, and it takes even longer if she adds the traditional cabling pattern.

    My mother reached into my brother’s duffel bag and pulled out the remains of my brother’s sweater, soaked in blood and cut to pieces by the paramedics.

    My brother winced. “Not that.” He gestured again.

    My mother reached back into the bag and pulled out a little white plastic bag, marked by a decorously small spot of blood. Inside the bag was a Mother’s Day card.

    “I’ll sign it later,” whispered my brother.

    The postscript to my story is this: Believe it or not, I didn’t have this sequence of events in mind at all when I came up with the idea for my card. In fact my idea was originally for a belated birthday card (which are much more common). After I fleshed it out some I realized it would work much better as a belated Mother’s Day card, and only then did I connect it with what had happened twenty years ago.

    Happy Mother’s Day to any moms who might be reading this today.

    by breadbox — 11 May 2008 @ 05:05

  4. I had planned to do this and was even just now checking the website to see what the details of the challenge were, but I had the month wrong.

    My plan was to put a big donut on the outside of a card and “NOT A TYPEWRITER!” on the inside.

    by emaland — 11 May 2008 @ 12:51

  5. Although my submission looks pretty simple, it was a chore putting it together – my scanner wasn’t friendly to my original attempt, and I had a tough time re-creating it on the computer, mostly because I don’t have good software for this type of thing. To get halfway decent-looking lettering, I had to blow everything up and then shrink it down, all the time shuffling the text and picture between MS Paint and MS Photo Editor. It was a time-consuming lot of trouble, just to produce my too-obvious comment on how I think greeting cards are vapid and tacky. For the record, I also hate most exclamation marks, which is why I made heavy use of them in that loathsome poem.

    My original attempt also had a handwritten inscription that read:
    “To Benji – I’m so proud of you! You must feel as thrilled as I felt the first time I beat level six, three whole weeks ago. Love, Gramma Anderson. p.s. You’ll always be a n00b to me! XXOO -G”
    But it was too wordy, and I thought it was a little too much overkill.

    by RyanF — 31 May 2008 @ 10:01