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Bad Words Gone Good

Christopher Lykins Greeting Cards

Ages ago I worked at a stationery store in Chattanooga, TN. At the time, to me, it seemed very few greeting cards had bad words on them—I loved a good greeting card with the f-bomb on it. In fact, the very reason I wanted to work at this shop was that the shop had a card with the f-word on it. The juxtaposition of a bad word on a greeting card seemed too perfect. When you think about greeting cards as a formal type of correspondence—thank you cards, birthday cards, wedding cards—having the audacity to put a bad word on a card that the receiver would treasure struck me as really funny.

Apparently, at the same time, the whole of the greeting card industry decided that bad words on stationery were hilarious. Soon, all of the cards we had in our shop were using the f-word, the s-word, the d-word—you get my point. Not only did every card seem to have a curse word on it, but they all also seemed to reference drinking, sex, drugs—any activity that just a few years before would have been taboo to reference on the outside of a greeting card.

Don’t get me wrong, I am no prude and use colorful language as often as possible (I don’t buy into the idea that curse words are the sign of a weak vocabulary—I mean, I have heard people talk that clearly use curse words as a substitute for a better word they may not know, but not every curse word uttered is because of lack of imagination or lack of knowledge). That being said, one day, I looked around the shop and thought to myself, “I cannot send a single card in this store to my mom.”

That realization inspired me to design a few cards that are beautiful and filled that traditional idea of what a greeting card should be. We called that collection, Never Be Without the Perfect Card. I then decided to attempt a card or two that would “dodge the curse.” I still like a funny card (just take a look at my site!) this new collection is easy to send to your grandmother, will cause a chuckle, and not offend her sensibilities. Cards like these show up regularly in my greeting card subscription box that we send out monthly.

The first card I designed was “aww ship.” No one can pick this card up and not laugh. In addition to the euphemism, a wood-engraving of an old ship with sails finishes the thought. The two elements work together to create a clever, not profane, greeting card. This greeting card is a great choice for any type of celebration or achievement: graduation, promotion, retirement. It is also a great choice for someone moving away. Really the possibilities are limited only by your imagination. For instance, imagine your nephew/niece receives this card for graduation. The inside might include a note like, “I can’t believe after all of these years of effort, you’ve finally made it—congratulations; we knew you could do it!”

My second card in this collection is also a part of my effort to design a new card every day in 2019. It is number 26 of the collection of 365 designs. “I don’t give a flying duck.” This card is an excellent greeting card for offering encouragement. A message on the inside might include something like, “I don’t care what [insert name of particular villain] says, I think you’re awesome and am glad to count you as a friend.”

Look forward to more cards in the “Bad Words Gone Good.” collection. If you have a suggestion, feel free to leave it in the comments—some of my favorite cards have come from collaborating with customers and friends.

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