The year was 1987. Ronald Reagan was president and disposable contact lenses were invented. I was two years out of college and into my second year of being employed in the business world (I was running a typesetter for a software company, producing documentation for end-user manuals). I used to call it my first “real” job but that reflects negatively on my first job, which I’d had for 7 summers. In that job I worked on a Christmas tree farm with a bunch of old stoners, hippies and logger types. It was there that I learned to appreciate hard work, the Allman Brothers Band and how good a cold beer tasted after a 10 hour day in the hot sun—before I was even 21 (*gasp*). To put things into perspective, I was making more on the Christmas tree farm than I was at this “real” job, so it begs the question: which was really the real job?
But I digress (I’m prone to that).
1987 was back before there was such a thing as an internet (for the public anyway), desktop computers, or color laser printers. I had a desk, and on it sat a computing device, but it was referred to as an email terminal, not a desktop computer. To get this terminal to do much of anything required basic FORTRAN, which I didn’t know, so you can imagine how productive this terminal was. Email could only travel between computers connected within the local network: there was no access to the outside world. In essence it was a dead end. But a CRT monitor with a black screen and glowing green text was cutting edge technology at the time, and it seemed pretty cool just to have this thing called email. Ignorance was bliss, as this was back before email overload became the bane of daily existence.
In 1987 we still went to libraries to do research, coveted the yellow pages to find listings, and read the newspaper classified ads to find used fishing gear. There were black and white photocopy machines, but if you wanted to print something of any quality, even in black and white, you had to have it done the old fashioned way using offset printing. And offset printing printing was expensive (still is, actually). I had not a pot to piss in back then—as a bachelor, most of my spare change was spent on pizza and cheap beer (microbrews weren’t all the rage yet). But that year, with Christmas nearing, I found myself in a festive mood and I wanted to create Christmas cards to send out to friends and family. I had an idea, and I drew it on paper using a Rapidograph ink pen (not a pen tool). If I made a mistake, I started over (there was no “undo” command). I scraped together every penny I had so that I could afford to have a couple of hundred black and white cards printed (color was out of the question). That Christmas the cards went out, and while details of 25 years ago are hazy at best, I do remember that the cards were well-received. I don’t know if people actually liked the cards or just appreciated my efforts. Afterall, nobody printed their own cards back in those days.
Ultimately a couple cards were left over and somehow found their way into a folder. Amazingly that folder has followed me through the years, through marriage and kids and a few different moves to new houses. Jump ahead 25 years when recently I was cleaning out my desk sifting through a cluttered, junk-filled drawer and I came upon the old card. Brought back some memories it did, so I thought I’d have a little fun with it. Once scanned I posted it to a popular social networking site and to my surprise I got over 30 “likes” and several comments. A couple of folks even contacted me, asking how they could get cards. I had no good answer to that because there was no way to print the old cards–the original artwork had long ago vanished. At the insistance of a nagging associate suggestion of a friend (thanks, Les) I decided there was something I could do. First, I would have to recreate the original illustration in what has become, over the years, my personal style.
Once I’d redrawn the card, I then posted the file to Zazzle.com and fashioned some 5×7 cards using the design. No need to spend money out of pocket to pay for printing. No risk of having unwanted inventory sitting around in a folder, stuffed to the back of a junk drawer in my desk to be discovered a quarter century later. And so there you have it: a 25 year old idea that has stood the test of time has been revived thanks to modern technology. A textbook example of something old, something new.
The cards are available for purchase if anyone is interested. Envelopes included. Disclaimer: I make a very small percentage of every card sold–so small in fact that I’ll have to sell hundreds of cards in order to afford a frozen pizza and a six pack of cheap beer (I still don’t go for microbrews), or a half tank of gas to go fishing.
If interested, you can order the cards by clicking HERE. I’ll be adding other designs as I conceive of them.