It could be the principle or simple economics but there are people who choose not to spank their hard-earned at Hallmark but to make their own cards instead; keeping Mum happy by taking her advice and producing cute collaged snowmen/birds/cakes with glitter and pinking shears. They are not, perhaps, the craft-fair sensation she was hoping for but a personalised memento of the occasion that gives pleasure to the receiver and a bite-sized little creative workout for the maker.
This is not the smug, here's the family, Christmas newsletter with young Neville slumped in a cardboard sleigh behind Prince Harry the spaniel with Mom and Pop grinning delightedly in the background and a paragraph about the new hedge. It is a decent, considered card, made for the occasion and 'specially for you. And it's got to stand up. Postcards aren't good enough. If it needs to be propped-up then it's failed. There aren't that many design considerations, so think it through.
The proliferation of the home printer and Lidl photopaper has opened the 'slow card' option up to even more - rip some pictures off facebook, do some basic photoshop scorcery and Bob yer uncle's in the Spice Girls. All you need to work out is which end of the paper to print it so you can put the fold in.
But what, you cry, of the housebound, the technologically challenged and those without access to kids drawing equipment? Well a brand new creative tool has stepped forward to allow those poor souls to show their affection in a unique and lasting manner. It's irritating, echoing chant of a jingle seeped its way into our consciousness during its fortnight publicity push. It may be convenient but what are the creative constraints of... moonpig.com?
Well, it's an interesting mix. It's very difficult to escape the crass and the double entendre - the 'sorry' section offers such heartfelt apologies akin to a 'Say it with flowers sign' in a florists with the line Can you do "Jessica, sorry I pissed in your wardrobe after drinking too much"? underneath. So rather the adolescent bloke line of sorry then. But who says sorry with a Moonpig card? There was not a 'with Integrity and Sincerity' section on the drop-down menu. Women don't buy cards like these. Do men use them to say sorry to other men?
For women there was being bitchy and unstable is all part of my mystique. My mystique in bold means other words be substituted although desperate attempt to substitute psychological problems for character is too long. Meanwhile elsewhere on the site Eeyore is worth hunting down just for the freedom of an untainted space. Every word in the blue speech-bubble box is yours to write; from jolly crudities about Master C. Robin to Eeyoresque angst. At this point, I should highlight the relevant small print:
Abuse of Service
You agree not to use the website directly or indirectly for any unlawful purpose or so as to cause distress or offence to any person. We reserve the right not to process your order if we decide that you are using the website for such purposes and ban you from placing orders with us in the future.
So be careful or you'll get banned from Moonpig. Banned from Moonpig! - class act indeed. Possibly it is the Birthdays- blankArt - Humour section that contains the most intriguing changeable text. Here we find nudes from Bosch to Manet accompanied by lads mag-isms about blowing instruments and the like. As per the rest of the site names can be changed to embroil the innocent. But wait, what's this in bold? Ah yes, the original title, the artist and the date are in your control. Play fast and loose with those dates and names?it is then to issues of authorship, plagiarism and intellectual properties that we must look.
Mind you, don't you fuck with the 'Moonpig'. For we are warned:
"Moonpig" is our registered trademark. You agree not to display or use it in any manner without our prior written consent. In fact; All text, photographs, graphics, video, page layouts, design and other material that is contained on the website is protected by our or third party copyrights, trade marks, service marks, patents or other proprietary rights and laws.
It is to the aural we must look for the real opportunity to express. Look: A Voice It! Audio Greeting enables the sender to record a message of up to 60 seconds, so there's ample time to be creative and to include words of affection and amusing stories from all the family; why not tell someone how much you love them or, sing happy birthday instead?
Or tell them a lie, pretend you don't know how it works and they've eavesdropped on your attempt, some kind of abstract but slightly unpleasant squelchy sound, repeated rhythmically. That's the spirit; send one of those off to granny.
Alora, this month tune in to Resonance FM from 5pm to 6pm on 2 June to hear What Line Isn't That Anyone? A live art performance special.
Saturday, 6 June sees Tessa Garland's Olympic Visions at The Nunnery in Bow Arts lane. A one-day event, featuring lens-based and performance work by artists in response to London's 2012 Olympic Games and the regeneration of East London.