Indie artists take cues from pop culture to reinvent Valentine’s Day cards

We talked with the creators of some of the Internet’s finest romantic greeting cards featuring beloved TV characters. 


Kate Knibbs


Published Feb 13, 2014   Updated May 31, 2021, 6:21 pm CDT

It’s hard to find a Valentine’s Day card in the drug store that’s not a completely cheesy mess with flowers and something treacly in cursive printed across the top. But what if you and your loved one are less about flowers and teddy bears and more about eating a lot of pizza and watching Netflix?

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Luckily, independent artists are creating clever cards that won’t make you want to throw up a little in your mouth, cards that use pop culture instead of worn-out platitudes, Valentines that acknowledge love or friendship between the giver and recipient and also seem to say “I love you, and we both share the greatest love of all: television and movies.”

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So what inspires these pop culture Valentine creators to make such atypical lovenotes?  

Chris Bishop, who created a series of Game of Thrones cards, thought the fantasy series was good source material. “The main reason I paired Game of Thrones and Valentine’s Day was because the show focuses on relationships, sex, and secrets. It’s such a natural fit,” he told us in an email.

Bishop, an illustrator, is planning to make more GoT cards, though he’s wary of creating cards with spoilers. Bishop’s show of choice is set in a world without computers, but he uses technology to craft the colorful cards: “I use Adobe Illustrator and a mouse to draw,” he explained. “I love perfect lines and drawing with shapes so Illustrator is my jam.”

Tyler Feder, an illustrator who makes remarkable pop-culture themed drawings (including the occasional Valentine’s Day cards) has a different approach to source material than Bishop: she likes to choose programs that aren’t necessarily what she considers a perfect fit. Instead of a dashing romantic hero, for instance, she features beta males like New Girl’s Nick Miller.

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“I really like the idea of making Valentines that reference shows that aren’t 100 percent romantic all the time,” she says.  “It’s more fun to take the idea of Nick Miller hating everything and try to make it romantic than to just use, like, The Notebook or something.”

Brandon Bird, another illustrator with an awesome collection of Law and Order: SVU-themed Valentines (I know) likes the dissonance of having a show about dark, messed up stuff as a theme for a sickly-sweet holiday. “For me it’s about finding just the right combo of subject + medium. ‘Drama about rapes and murders’ seemed like the perfect fit for ‘cheesy children’s cards about love.’ The joke is that they’re something that should never, ever exist,” he told us via email.

Bird will actually send his cards by mail, which are glorious renditions of Benson, Stabler, and the rest of the SVU crew being romantical, so you can get a physical copy delivered to your rape-mystery lovin’ sweetheart the old-fashioned way.

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So if you’re stuck on what to get your partner this holiday and you don’t want to buy one of the lame cards in Walgreens but you also know that if you do nothing to acknowledge the holiday you will be sexually and emotionally penalized, try a pop culture-themed card: they’re cute without being schmaltzy. Plus if you get a card related to a show you watch together, you get extra points for being thoughtful.

Photo via Brandon Bird

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*First Published: Feb 13, 2014, 6:45 pm CST