Courtesy Cards Spell Out The Bad News
Now this is what I call sarcasm at its best. Gramkin Paper Studio – previously BigBooDesigns – are purveyors of “custom and personalised stationery, note cards, invitations, announcements, hang tags, business & calling cards as well as all your other paper goods needs”. Their assortment on Etsy includes lovely sugar sweet Courtesy Cards that are almost entirely typographic: sets of 10 flat 2" x 3.5" cards printed on luxury textured card stock. Well, I wrote “lovely” and “sugar sweet”, but appearances can be deceiving. Once you get past their candy coloured cuteness and actually read what they say you realise they go way beyond “brutally honest”. The messages range from “I’m sorry, it’s not worth getting to know you any further” over “Attention, your loud ill-mannered children are not cute … get it under control” to the deliciously offensive “I know you want to get in my pants, but there is already an asshole in there”. The concept is brilliant in its simplicity and puts a mischievous twist on cordial civility. As the blurb says:
What a small price to pay for peace of mind! And remember when you can’t say it to someone’s face … say it with a card!
I have to say sarcasm is not really my favourite type of humour – too much negativity – but I’ll gladly make an exception for these hilarious cards. Granted, handing one of those out is a bit immature and not very edifying, but it sure as hell will scratch that evil inner itch you’ll never admit you have. And just try to imagine the look on the face of any cocky pick-up artist receiving one of those. Sometimes those overly confident pursuers simply don’t get the message, so it must be very satisfying for a person being harassed to be able to tell said unwanted suitor off by simply giving one of these cards.
On a side note – Gramkin Paper Studio also offer a related product called Glib Greetings, which roughly follows the same formula. Yet personally I feel their intended use is quite different. Courtesy Cards are supposed to be handed to complete strangers who annoy you, while I have the impression Glib Greetings are meant for people you already know. Although acquaintances with confidence to spare and a strong sense of humour may appreciate them, I think a couple of designs are just a touch too mean-spirited for their own good.
Unfortunately it’s not all good. Appearances can be deceiving in more than one way. Because once you get past the funny text you notice how poorly set some of the cards are, which is in sharp contrast with the quality printing. The simple explanation is that most of the typefaces used are freeware or shareware fonts, and it shows. Some of the designs are quite amateurish, and the spacing is all over the place, not to mention there’s lack of proper kerning. Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not saying all free type is poor, but the vast majority you’ll find on the popular sites just don’t cut it, and you often have to wade through tons of crap before finding something good and useful. If you really want to use free fonts you have to be extra careful and put a lot of effort into finding wares that are decently designed and set well. And sadly, Gramkin Paper Studio apparently didn’t. It’s a shame and a little ironic that an almost purely typographic project is marred by the typography.
So I figured, why not return Gramkin Paper Studio the favour and design my own courtesy card? I can assure you it was all done in good humour, and I hope they take it as well as they dish it out.
Special points to the first who can identify all the different typefaces used in my card.
The FontFeed is a daily dispatch of recommended fonts, typography techniques, and inspirational examples of digital type at work in the real world. Eat up.
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