L6- Everything about One Thing- Valentines Card

Personal Reflection on Design

The considered questions reflect my chosen career goal of becoming a graphics animator. These questions will form a body that will become challenging of work raise questions within myself about graphics animation.

 What is the importance of graphics animation to the ever-changing technology?

This question in my field of design is very straightforward to answer, as advances in technology are possessing everyday static objects and turning them into interactive pieces that will use moon imagery to do so. You only have to look at New York’s ‘Times Square’, where all advertising applies the practice of motion graphics. I think soon all cities will use motion advertising, and there simply won’t be a place for print in the future. In this current time children as young as five can potentially use an iPad with particular apps designated for their mental age, and this exposure to high res motion graphics simply leaves them with no requirement or wanting` for print design. I think in graphic design study currently we are somewhat forcing the practice of print so that the art doesn’t simply ‘die out’ due to selfish needs of older generations, but I do believe that this selfishness will soon fade due to the overwhelming need for motion design.  As well as this, motion graphics is a much more malleable approach to design rather than using print, due to its process of being able to be chopped and changed easily and cost efficiency.

How can graphics animation manipulate society?

Graphic animation has a scary amount of power to change opinions or get people to consume or buy into something. You only have to turn on your TV to find your next Insurance company using a a cute fluffy animated animal, to entice you into buying their ‘cheap’ car insurance. I think the current consumerist and materialist society will only grow stronger, and soon we will have world where opinions don’t matter and society will listen to what they are told. As a graphics animator, I don’t want to create deigns that embrace the audience with open arms, to then make a mockery of them believing they actually have an opinion. My designs will interact with the user, giving them a chance to interoperate what they see and make there own discussions. Creating provoking work, creates opinions and an opinionated world is much healthier than being thoughtless drones.

Does graphics animation influence our daily lives?

I have just mentioned how graphic animation in advertising can influence our choices, however there is a just as big party who are influenced who are children through morning TV. Children TV I think is so important for children to learn life lessons, and be able to figure how the world works. I remember a programme called ‘Pingu’ which I watched a lot in my early up bringing, and one episode stuck in my mind to this very day. Before joining school I was afraid of participating in sport, knowing I had no clue what I was doing. This episode featured these fears I had myself, illustrating it through Pingu on how to deal with these problems. I don’t think children TV animation gets enough credit, and do believe it must be the most rewarding as a designer knowing you are shaping children’s lives.

Summer Brief

1. Re-Examine & Re Express

The given task brief gives us a starting point to begin thinking of ideas for our disertation. Statements from four esltablsihed design authers/ theorist/ designers are given as examples, of how we may relate oureslevs to thier theories and set of principls when it comes to design. The stated professions are named as follows:

  • Rick Poynor- British writer on design
  • Micheal Rock- American Graphic Designer
  • Meradith Davis- Graphic Design Theaorist
  • Colin Davies- Academic and Writer

Each statement questions the role of the communication designer from different perspectives. I will read each statemtent and determine which statement I belive reflects my own personal stance on design, so I can manifest my beliefs within my design projects.

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The ideologies Rick Poynor believe , I found most relates to me as a designer more so than the other theorists and designers . Moving through my second year of study in graphic design,  I soon understood and practiced design to actively seek hidden stories and subjects that have real substance in todays world and need communicating to todays ‘design aware culture’.

The ‘Interdisciplinary Practice’ project I felt was my strongest project as it asked me to choose a project theme within PEST, and present it in a way that provokes an audience. I found the experience of the project  induced excitement in myself throughout, as it gave me the chance to reveal to an audience new perspectives. I revealed that human attraction was something more factual and technical, rather than the stereotypical view which beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The project received numerous conflicting responses from my audience, which in it self proved the project was successful. In my 3rd year and in my later design career, I would like to reflect this design practice so that during future projects my mind is kept stimulated by learning new things and teaching others.

Designers who design simply for the purpose of consumption and profit show no real engagement in todays world. They simply tell the world what they should and should not be, with no chance for the world to engage with design and make discussions or choices.

The Brief- Everything About One Thing

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The module aim is to build on my learning experiences from level 5 and initiate relevant practice of theoretical and practical skills. Completing Level 5 study has changed my thinking in the way of processing information, in the aim of creating designs that induce new perspectives from an audience. My initial instincts as a designer was to persuade, promote or simply sell something to an audience. This type of design does work and has worked successfully in industry for decades. However, this type of design does not interact with an audience, it simply tells audiences what to do or think through clever or manipulative techniques. If the world was full of this type of design, the world would simply have no say in their lives, which is dangerous to us as human beings. I think there is a real need for more designers to ask questions about their current or future world, so that new values, beliefs and attitudes can start to surface, and be reflected through design which will gain new opinions on where people stand. A world without opinions simply makes a machine, which contains simple components (human beings). If these components are instructed what to do through what they are told (manipulative design), they will in fact follow command.

Through Level 5 I found my strongest work was through the module Interdisciplinary Practice. It was here that I found myself most engaged with a project, as it allowed me to explore a theme fully, unpick it and knit it back together in a way that is new, therefore challenging peoples mind sets. I find that this type of working is the most rewarding for me as a designer, and that type of practice I am defiantly going to carry though with me into my future projects.

The Brief states what learning outcomes I will gain, and this will be show through my work. If I can demonstrate all the qualities from the four following statement, the brief states I will have ‘engaged successfully with the module.’ The statements are as follows:

  • Apply a professional approach to problem solving managing your own learning, time and resources. To successfully problem solve, I need to make sure I record my data in a way that is both clear and has some sense of order. Gathering data I know can be quite difficult if inexperienced, which the ‘Tools and Systems’ module made apparent. Gathering qualitative and quantitative data from primary and secondary sources need to be kept separate initially (not hat obvious relations cant be made apparent in the early stages), so then the data can be intertwined to make somewhat of a narrative. Time I have never really had an issue with when producing work, as I naturally have the ability to cope with what time I have left to allocate to certain areas of a project. Personally, I don’t find making a diary helps as I think a project takes so many turns, you cant pin point an accurate date of when areas will be complete. Just having a basic knowledge of what needs doing and an average time scale will be enough to see me through to complete the project successfully.
  • Conduct design research in specific areas using a broad spectrum of sources and accurately deploy established methods of analysis and enquiry. I think in my last projects even though somewhat successful in the outcome, I need to use more of a variety of resources to make a fully rounded project outcome. I find I limit myself to the internet as a source as its so convenient for access. Using a range of media like books, newspapers and more primary research, I think will produce a much more resolved outcome. As for methods of analysis and  enquiry, I think I manage this part of the project quite well. I have the ability to range my types of  analysis from using technical programmes like excel to gain factual patterns, or maybe take a more loose approach and use a programme like 3D Max to depict interesting visuals.
  • Synthesis theory and practice within the framework of design in order to thoughtfully, sensitively and creatively solve a design brief.  Combing all components of the project to to solve the problem or issue raised is the toughest part of the subject. This is where all the my research and analysis need to be shown through a piece or several pieces,  depending on whats necessary to best represent my findings. My design development and final outcome should use the form of contextual design, making design decisions for relevant reasoning and not simply for my own desires. If I stick to this ideology, my final outcome should be a successful.
  • Present your practical work and supporting research to a professional standard using a range of media and techniques appropriate to your project and informed by your research findings. To make sure my supporting work is considered a professional standard, I will make sure I explain precisely but thoroughly my design decisions and outcomes. This will make sure that my work is contextualised, and will induce some sort of meaning at the end of the project. All my work will be categorised and titled in an appropriate order.

The brief says I have to gather a complete knowledge about one of the following theme which are activism, globalism or community. I feel that my strongest area would be community to due my current knowledge and previous successful projects. However, this does not mean I will rule out the other two areas at this stage, as I will be receiving near timetabled lectures on each individual theme to gain a better understanding. The brief initially wants me to think ‘BIG’ through an established research subject to consider my chosen theme in greater detail. As to what a research subject consists of I don’t have an idea of what to choose in the terms of scale, so I will need to wait for the upcoming lecture on picking a subject. The brief states I need to select a stance by which to view my selected theme from which include Political, Social or Economical Technological. Again, i think this will become much clearer once a research subject is established. The brief goes on to say the more specific the subject, the more yo can zoom in and go into detail. This is where I started to get my head around the brief title ‘Everything About One Thing’. I would imagine that the subject would have to be quite small in substance, so that It can be fully unpicked to make the research complete. Once I have finished all my findings, it is required of me to transform them into text and image. In terms of outcome, I do not have an intended form as my design practice is very broad, and it determined by the most appraise application to the research findings. Lastly the brief states that I must consider how I treat my material, to visualise and and explain you way of looking at the subject. I must consider the relationship between text and image, layout, grid use, colour, hierarchy of information and typographic treatment.

Final submissions must include:

  • Strategy/ Visualisation
  • Research and design development
  • Specifications/ Grid(s)
  • Final outcomes/ Revisualisations

Globalisation, Activism and Community Seminars

This week I was faced with a series of seminars that would help me understand the potential themes that that my project would fit into. I will briefly discuss each theme and elaborate on my decided theme once the subject is established.

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In this seminar I found that the presentation was rather inspiring in the examples given. Big corporations have mass influence on other individual cultures, which have both positive or a negative effect on the world. I began to question myself through the seminar wether globalisation was a good thing or a bad thing.


  • Are able to access other cultures food, sports, medical practices etc.
  • Makes other countries more accessible to others
  • Competition drives down prices for consumers
  • Third world countries are able to gain new technologies without undergoing the struggles of the initial process of development
  • Brings cultures together


  • Large companies drive out smaller businesses
  • Loss of tradition and culture
  • Americanisation leads to increase in fast food consumption
  • Increases the gap between the rich and the poor due to large brands taking the counties money for their goods
  • Has given rights to terrorism to due high conflict in profit and rivalry against companies

The theme of globalisation is quite interesting with conflicting views on wether its positive or negative and has had enough impact on me to carry it out as a theme for my project. Personally, I found information provided in the seminar difficult to comprehend, as terminology and certain political stances I was not aware of at that present time which were new to me. However, if my project requires this teem, I can look into it from a focused perspective. This might not require me to have or gain knowledge of current political issues, rather just research into relevant angles of globalisation.

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Personally I didn’t find activism to be an inspiring project theme due to the presentation. Also, I find activist movements in recent times are meaningless as it seems they promote needless crime and disorder.

An example of activism is the 2011 London Riots. This event induced anger from ethnic minorities communities which expanded public outrage across the country. However opportunists participated in the rioting solely for the purpose to steal goods, vandalise and to obtain personal pleasures.

However as a result of my lack of knowledge and the current exposure to the activist movement, I may feel inclined to oppose this form of protest. I have not discounted the fact that activist movements in the past have been successful and changed previous policies i.e. Women’s Rights, Black Freedom, Love and War. If my chosen subject reveals a hidden story that might be reflected best through an activist theme design, then I will look further into successful activists movement and campaigns to gain insight into accomplished techniques. As well as this, research into activist campaigns that have utilised the use of graphical communication.

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Community was a subject that I was quite familiar with due to previous subjects I have completed. However, this was not to say that I did not gain any new perspective one the word community. First of all, the seminar raised the interesting point of how we may associate happy imagery with people holding hands and give a sense of togetherness. This was best proved through a simple search of the word ‘community through google images.

To get us thinking outside the definition of community, we were asked to get into small groups and complete a quick task. The task was to produce a zine, combing either combining two communities together or create a commmunity that we would like to exist. As a group we decided to create the ‘pen sniffers society’. In the style of wine tasting, we created a zine that would discuss carried type of pens, all having their own distinctive aromas.

This workshop and lecture was run by Jo Lee about Community; getting us to think about the communities that we belong in and the communities we might wish existed. Working in groups we then produced a zine combing two communities we wanted to exist, as a group we came up with the comical Harry Potter Pudding Club. I found the workshop very useful and made me think in an alternative way about community and what we consider to be a community. For example, communities that I belong to include my Ice Hockey Team, Adobe Rep Team, Committee Member for Ice Hockey and even a community of Apple users. Community would be easily applicable to a project based on one thing alone, as that one thing is likely to have a community attached to it, whether it be positive or negative.

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As the seminar progressed, I learnt that community simply is a number of beings, who share common interests, or posses the same attitudes towards a topic, which can overlap with many other communities. An extreme example would be of a community that share the same interests of racial hate like the Ku Klux Klan, yet a one of more people from that community may share a similar interest in let say wine tasting and so forth.

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Illustration of the kKK wine tasting club

Picking a Subject

At this stage, it was now time to consider what my ‘thing’ (regards to the title brief ‘Everything about One Thing’) could potentialy be. Prior to the seminar in which the title brief was discussed, I was a little uncertain of how I may go about picking a subject. However, the seminar in-fact inspired my thinking and already gave me potential ideas of what my subject could be.

The seminar stated that the ‘thing’ could be either an object, concept or an idea. The main point that I gathered about picking a subject was to pick so something that is small and precise. The purpose of this was to allow the object to be fully explored, as picking a subject that is broad could cause confusion and unsuccessful exploration. Another point that was made that was vital in picking a subject was consideration of myself. This told me that it was not the case of simply picking any random object, it is was to find an item, concept, word etc that would potentially open up narrative which could channel my ideas. This led me onto mind mapping myself as a person and a designer, to find a suitable subject which will create for a provokative project outcome.

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After considering myself as a person and a designer I selected 3 diverse subjects, which I thought I could consider taking on to further research  for the design project. I chose Cyclists (Hate), Cats (Loves) and Human Attraction (Interests). Due to my fondness of learning how society desire and appeal to others, I decided to take this subject matter further and map other smaller objects and ideas within the theme of human attraction, to find a more precise ideas or objects that I could be explored fully.

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Producing this map of concepts about human attraction has brought back memories of completing the interdisciplinary project in my second year of study. I found that the subject matter (Physical Human Attraction) kept me engaged, and would like to carry out a similar theme in this current project. What stood out to me on the map was the word Valentines, which I thought instantly could be a good subject to find hidden perspectives.  Valentines Day I broadly understand as a day for people to devote loving gestures to others, through the use of cards and gifts. This subject I predicted would have a lot of unknown history, meaning or cultural views that I could unpick and make for an interesting project.  My next stage was to write down any knowledge I had around the subject of Valentines Day,  as well do some initial research into the subject to create a concept map for ideas.

Concept Map Research

Now I have determined my research subject, I now need to gather some research into Valentines Day, so that this will enable me to create a concept map to find new knowledge of the subject. I have been exposed to the process of creating concept maps in my level 5 study, however I don’t feel I have grasped the correct practice in creating a successful map. Personally, I feel the need to research into how to create a successful concept map. The the concept map is a requirement of the project brief, but also the tool to find hidden perspectives.

Concept Map- What? Why? How?Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 15.32.33


  • Concept maps are tools for organising and representing Knowledge
  • Concepts are enclosed by boxes
  • These boxes are connected by line
  • Linking words are placed on the lines expressing the relationship between the two boxes
  • Meaningful statements are made from two or more concept boxes linked together by linking words to create new ideologies


  • Hierarchical fashion forms a map with more inlcusive and general concepts at the top, apposed to less general, more specific concepts formed at the bottom. The bottom of the map will enable us to find hidden perspectives or new ideologies about the topic.
  • Relationships of concepts in different areas of the map form cross links. Cross-links help us see how a concept in one domain of knowledge represented on the map is related to a concept in another domain shown on the map. This generates new knowledge and will enable the knowledge producer to take creative leaps.


  • Focus question is needed so we have a reference in what we want to seek about the subject. i.e what is valentines day? This creates context and a precise domain of knowledge.
  • List the main concepts of what is valentines day? celebration, love etc. 15- 25 concepts are suffice
  • Produce a ranked order list to establish the most inclusive and general concepts from the more specific, less general concepts. (This is an approximation)
  • The list acts as a parking lot, which concepts are removed only if required by the map
  • Produce a preliminary map so that a good hierarchal organisation starts to form
  • Revise the Map to add or alter concepts to produce a fulfilled map. Revision can be endless
  • Once the map is finalised cross links should be sought. This is to underline relationships in the sub domains of the map.

General Tips

  • Linking words are important in understanding the relationships between concepts. Poor choice of linking words will lead to confusion and inability to complete the map successfully. Considering needs to be made of linking words.
  • Choose and identify the most prominent and most useful cross-links. Concepts will all link together one way or another, but distinguishing relevant or promising connections is the key.

Now I have a better understanding of the process of generating a successful concept map, I will try and undertake this practice to devise a map that answers the question ‘What is Valentines Day?

Starting the concept Map

First of all, I made a list of key concepts around the subject of Valentines day. My research told me that 15-25 key concepts would be a suffice starting point. Here is the the list of key concept words I optioned:

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My next task was to order the concepts in terms of being more general and inclusive, compared to being less general and more specific. This is just an approximation so that I can establish where these words may lie on the map. Here is the list of key concept words reordered:

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Here I already began to see how the concept map will work. The less general more specific terms looked as though they could potentially create some new ideologies even though no linking words are yet established. An example this would be the concept words ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘advertising’. This raised the question of ‘does valentines day primarily base their advertising to straight people?’ This not only raises the issue of discrimination, but also questions Valentines days prime initiative in modern times. My next step was to devise a ‘main’ branch of key concept words that express what we generally perceive Valentines Day to be. This would then allow me to branch off these key concepts,  to allow for new perspectives to be discovered through the use of semantics. Here is the main general branch of key concepts I have devised after several revisions:

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Creating this main branch has already given me research areas, so that I’m able to branch other concepts off the main branch. Here are some research areas I will have to explore before I can complete the concept map.

  • History of Valentines Day
  • Sentiments
  • Love
  • Who celebrates Valentines Day
  • Semiotics

My next step is to do some basic secondary research into Valentines Day, so that I’m then able to develop a finished concept map.

Basic Secondary Research Valentines Day

At this stage I had a basic stem for my concept map made from my initial thoughts of Valentines Day , stating the main ideas behind what the general understanding of what the project is. However, I now had to find some more substantial research so that I could create a map that reveals deep insight into the widely celebrated holiday.

History of Valentines Day

Pre Christian Era

  • Ancient Rome 13, 14 and 15th February celebrated as Lupercalia (a pagan fertility festival) 
  • Basis for celebration of Love
  • Begins with an Animal Sacrifice
  • Men strip naked, whip the backsides of women with dog or goat skin whips to improve fertility

Circa AD 197

  • Christian known as Valentine of Terni is martyred in the reign of Emperor Aurelian.
  • Little is known of his life, except that he was made Bishop of Interamna (now Terni) in AD 197
  • He was apparently imprisoned, tortured and beheaded on the Via Flaminia in Rome for his Christianity by the order of a Roman prefect with the oxymoronic name of Placid Furius.
  • According to legend, he died on 14 February, but that is likely a later embellishment.

Circa AD 289

  • Another Christian, Valentine of Rome, is martyred, this time under Emperor Claudius
  • A priest or bishop in the city, he was apparently arrested for giving aid to prisoners.
  • While in jail, he is said to have converted his jailer by healing his blind daughter’s sight. According to another, later version, he is said to have fallen in love with the daughter, sending her a note saying “From your Valentine”, but this is apocryphal.
  • In yet another, equally unlikely version, Claudius was claimed to have banned young men from marrying, so that they would make better soldiers, and Valentine was arrested for secretly carrying out weddings.
  • Like his earlier namesake, Valentine of Rome is supposed to have died on 14 February, but – again – this is implausible.

Circa AD 496

  • The then Pope, Gelasius, declared 14 February to be St Valentine’s Day, a Christian feast day.
  • This is likely to have been an if-you-can’t-beat-them-join-them approach to the still-popular pagan festival of Lupercalia.

AD 1382

  • Geoffrey Chaucer writes his Parlement of Foules (or “Parliament of Fowls”), which is widely taken to be the first linking of St Valentine’s Day to romantic love.
  • Celebrating the engagement of Richard II of England and Anne of Bohemia, he wrote: “For this was on St. Valentine’s Day/ When every fowl cometh there to choose his mate.”
  • However, it is thought that this may have referred to 2 May, the saint’s day in the liturgical calendar of Valentine of Genoa – this would be a more likely time for birds to be mating in England.

AD 1400

  • On St Valentine’s Day a court is opened in Paris, the High Court of Love, dealing with affairs of the heart: marriage contracts, divorces, infidelity, and beaten spouses.
  • A few years later, Charles, the Duke of Orleans (a Frenchman, inevitably) writes the first recorded Valentine’s note to his beloved, while imprisoned in the Tower of London following capture at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415.

AD 1601

  • St Valentine’s Day has entered the popular consciousness to the extent that one William Shakespeare mentions it in Ophelia’s lament in Hamlet: “To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s day,/All in the morning betime,/And I a maid at your window,/To be your Valentine.”

 Mid 18th Century

  • The passing of love-notes becomes popular in England, a precursor to the St Valentine’s Day card as we know it today. Early ones are made of lace and paper.
  • In 1797, the The Young Man’s Valentine Writer is published, suggesting appropriate rhymes and messages, and as postal services became more affordable, the anonymous St Valentine’s Day card became possible.
  • By the early 19th century, they become so popular that factories start to mass-produce them.

AD 1847

  • Following the English tradition, Esther Howland of Worcester, Massachusetts, starts producing cards – using the newly available and much cheaper paper lace – in the United States.

AD 1913

  • If you felt cynical, you might call this date the beginning of the end for St Valentine’s Day as a genuinely romantic event.
  • the start of its reinvention of a savagely imposed regime of sugar-coated sweetness designed to chisel spare cash out of lovers and would-be lovers worldwide: Hallmark Cards produce their first Valentine.
  • Now the date is the flagship “Hallmark Holiday” – together with Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day and so on, a series of celebrations notable more for the need to spend money than any heartfelt sentiment.

AD 1929

  • The St Valentine’s Day Massacre.
  • A savage and bloody event in itself – five Chicago gangsters lined up and murdered with machine guns, apparently at the behest of Al Capone

Mid 1980s

  • The commercialisation continues: noting the sales effect of the holiday on chocolate, flowers and cards, the diamond industry gets involved, promoting St Valentine’s Day as a time for giving jewellery. The “tradition” takes off.

AD 2009

  • Valentine’s Day generates an estimated $14.7 billion (£9.2 billion) in retail sales in the United States.

AD 2010

  • An estimated 1 billion St Valentine’s Day cards will be sent worldwide this year, making it the second most card-heavy celebration after Christmas.

 Science of Love

  • Love is an attraction which can be sexual, romantic or deep attachment
  • brain triggers dopamine, which results in wanting, craving, focused attention and motivation, to win lives greatest prize, an appropriate partner.
  • As you grow up, you build an unconscious map of traits which fit your ideal partner.

Valentines Card

  • Important as a social chronicle
  • Personal communication between people
  • Treasures which are kept
  • Can be hand made or bought
  • ‘finger prints of love’


  • Baby with wings generally know in todays society
  • 1000 BCE (3000yrs ago) cupid name was original erus (where the word erotic came from)
  • In greek times he was a sex simple, reportedly able to make gods weak at the knees
  • He had two arrows, one for love, one for hate.
  • Romans started calling him Cupid
  • Later in the renaissance, artist started depicting cupid as an infant angle which was called putti.
  • First appeared on cards in the 1700s
  • He became an icon for how unpredictable love can be
  • Seen in a blindfold because love is blind

How other counties celebrate valentines day?

  • In the USA, people celebrate Valentine’s Day with roses, chocolates and romantic gestures.
  • Japan. On February 14th, women buy Hom-mei, a chocolate strictly for boyfriends and husbands. Women have to wait the whole month to receive their gift, which is usually white chocolate.
  • United Kingdom. Along with exchanging cards, chocolates and flowers, Brits write sonnets and verses to each other. Children also join in the fun by spending the day singing songs.
  • Canada. On Valentine’s Day, balls and parties are organised and thrown all over the country.
  • South Africa. Week long celebrations and parties take place in South Africa. Young girls celebrate the day by celebrating a tradition called “Lupercalia.” This tradition requires girls to pin the name of their lover on their sleeve.
  • India. Celebrating Valentine’s Day is a recent tradition here. Festivals are week-long and the day is hyped by television, newspapers and more.
  • Italy. Couples exchange flowers and chocolate along with more extravagant gifts such as perfume and diamonds.
  • Scotland. Imagine celebrating a romantic day with a complete stranger. A popular tradition in Scottish culture is “The Search of the Valentine Date.” The first man or woman a person sees on the street becomes his or her Valentine.
  • China. Chinese Valentine’s Day is on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month on the Chinese calendar. Couples visit a temple called “Temple of Matchmaker” and pray for happiness and future marriage. Single people also visit to pray for luck in finding love.



Critical Awareness- New subject- Valentines Day Cards

In the process of collecting research for my connect map, I found after a long extended period of time I wasn’t even ‘scraping the surface’ of knowing everything about valentines day. Reflecting back over the original brief, I realised that my subject matter was too broad. Sticking to the briefs suggestions of keeping the subject matter small, I had to find a subject within Valentines Day that would be a much narrower topic to research. My initial thoughts were to select an item that is a must use on Valentines day , that discloses loving gestures from one individual to the next. The subject I decided to research was the Valentines Day Card.

Whilst collecting research for ‘Valentines Day’, I came across a video by a Woman named Nancy Rosen who is president of the National Valentines collectors association. She informs us how she has over 10,000s Valentines cards, which she calls ‘social chronicles’. She also states that the Valentines Day card is the ‘most personal form of communication’ She also goes on to explain how certain cards in her collection have ‘significance’, due to the fact of where they have been placed in history. A great example she gives was the Civil War ‘Soldiers Tent’ It features a tent which is wrapped in the American starts and stripes, which then opens up to an illustration of a soldier writing to his beloved, who is also featured but only by light line in the background. This card created a ‘link between home and the front’ which is quite heart warming and meaningful.


Watching this video has cemented my decision to change my subject from ‘everything about Valentines Day’ to everything about the ‘Valentines Day Card’. This will not only make the subject much more focused in regards to research, but also discuss vital key concepts of which Valentines Day posses. Hopefully, this will unveil some new semantics, which will then inform a creative response to turn views on the current Valentines Day practice into somewhat negative.

Concept Map/ Project Idea- Valentines Day Card

Here is the original branch of key concepts I had for Valentines Day. This is a good reference for when trying to complete my ‘Valentines Card’ concept map, as it contains the context behind the Valentines day card.

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I will follow the same process of which I attempted to complete the initial ‘Valentines Day’ concept map. I will first write down 15 (or more) general key concepts about Valentines Day Cards, reorder them in terms of most general compared to the more specific, then generate a main stem of key concepts describing ‘what is a Valentines Day Card?’ This will inform me where to research next, to gain a full knowledge of the Valentines Day Card.

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Now I have distinguished the order of concepts in terms of generalisation,   I selected the top concepts to form a general phrase to basically describe what a Valentines Day Card is.

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Above is the most general concept to describe  what Valentines is. This linked stem will be the heart of the concept map, which other concept links will start to form so more specific links can be made apparent. I was given the task of producing a large drawn concept map, however I struggled to comprehend the large task at hand. I made the design decision to break down the main areas of the potential map into manageable sections, so that I could then link these concepts together later to produce a full concept map. Here are my drawn concepts map sections.

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Here is my finished concept map. The map illustrates the  broader features of the Valentines Card on the fringes of the map. These broader features also illustrate a shift in how the Card has changed from its main concept into something that could be described more as a profitable, lazy, offensive, stale or identical. The profit is made by companies, taking advantage of 21st century expectations of wanting items instantly. To cater these expectations, factories churn out mass produced cards which will present themselves as being options for individuals to purchase for their loved ones as being most appropriate. Moreover, this modern practice has also sparked cultural disputes, as religious groups see this as an innovation of western lifestyle.

This concept map had already given me an indicator as to how I would represent the card in my final outcome, as being something that is a lot more frivolous than being something meaningful. This had given me a theme of tone as to which the information I gather, will be formulated to create an overall bad interoperation of the card.

My next step was to figure out what research methodologies I need to use to collect the information I need for the research project. The subject areas I need to explore further are:

  • How many Valentines Cards a sold a year?
  • How much waste does Valentines Cards produce?
  • What cultures or communities take offence to the Valentines Card?
  • What company sell the most cards?
  • How many variations of cards do people have the option of purchasing?
  • How convient is it to purchase a Valentines Card?
  • How much is a Valentines Card averagely?
  • Historically how has the Valentines Card changed over time?
  • What cards are considered as social chronicles?
  • When was the use of symbols introduced? i.e heart, angle cupid?
  • Are the current card messages still meaningful?
  • How is the Valentines Card manufactured?
  • Do manufactures consider that their cards are sentimental?

Critically, I will have to choose a range of research methods to gather all of this information which will both require primary and secondary research. Already, I have distuingueshed that I need to undertake numerous readings, observation techniques and Interview.

Methodology of Research (reflect and rewrite)

First of all, I will have to narrow down my field of enquiry to inform how I will go about research to collect applicable data. I have been given prompt questions that will help me distinguish this:

What have you researched so far- As a designer/ researcher you are already part of a research/ knowledge community in design. have you consulted existing literature which may inform your researchinquiry? What are you hoping to achieve by engaging in the proposed field of inquiry?

I have lightly delved into the history of Valentines Day, which in fact gave me insight into what I want to achieve out of the project. In the Mid 18th Century the passing of love-notes became popular in England. This was a precursor to the St Valentine’s Day card as we know today. Early ones are made of lace and paper. In 1797, the The Young Man’s Valentine Writer is published, suggesting appropriate rhymes and messages, and as postal services became more affordable, the anonymous St Valentine’s Day card became possible. By the early 20th century, Hallmark produce the first mass-produce them Valentine Card.

At this stage, I am hoping to achieve the prospect of designing an activist book that would get readers to question their current values of the Valentines Card. Todays practice of choosing the ‘most appropriate’ Valentines Card simply isn’t good enough. Western influenced societies should have more of an input into how they use the Valentines card to declare their love to someone, rather than purchasing manufactured items from a local store.

What?- Subject Matter/ ThemeEstablish project overview/ design problem). Summarise the concept/ theme in a short statement no longer than 200 words.

In current Western culture Society, there is a lack of discipline when it comes to the Valentines Day Card. Previously, before the turn of the Mid 1800s, the valentines utilised hand craft decoration featuring sonnets or poems to win the hearts of a beloved one. Controversially , due to Hallmark creating their first mass produced card in 1913,  society purchase cards out of convenience, suitability or genre. This practice discards any real thought of declaring true affection to another human being. There is little regard of using hand craft skills or transcribing thoughtful messages to form something truly unique for their loved one. Instead, society flood out last minute to their local card shops, supermarkets (worse petrol stations), to hastily choose the ‘appropriate card’. As this continues, retailers make profit out of individuals desperation to comply with the social norms of purchasing the ‘prettiest’, ‘soppiest’ or ‘funniest’ card the store can offer. The Valentines Card has become a commodity, which has lost all meaning and purpose.

Why?- Question/ Statement- (Establish/ design rationale) Write a short question which you feel encapsulates the Project rationale (no more than 100 words). Which of the below is your rationale most closely situated to?

  • Political
  • Social
  • Technological
  • Economical

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Retailers and Western Culture Society in turn of the 20th century, have wrongly used the Valentines Card as a commodity item rather than a tool to express affection. Society have fallen into the trap of complying with the mass producers of greeting cards and the social norm, of purchasing the most ‘appropriate card’ from a prescribed selection. This practice discards any real notion of making and devoting a unique and meaningful gesture to a beloved one. This practice has informed the project to design a campaign tool that could enlighten society of how the Valentines Card should be utilised. The tool will educate society of previous practice before the mass-produced Valentines card of 1913, also highlighting everything that is wrong with todays current perspectives.

Suggested Research Techniques- (Does the brief in its current state require further research to better address the above themes?) What research methods do you feel would be useful to further strengthen your project rationale?

  • Research further into the history of Valentines cards in terms of meaningful qualities.
  • Research into previous practice of making the valentines card (art and design techniques).
  • Research how people rely on retailers and design companies for obtaining a Valentines. card.
  • Research into how much profit retailers make from Valentines Day cards.
  • Analyse current Valentines Day cards. What makes them so successful?
  • Research into online Card design websites
  • Research where people mostly buy their Valentines Cards
  • What tools have been designed already to educate society about Valentines cards? Were they successful?
  • Research into Activism
  • Research into successful campaign tool. What makes them successful?
  • Research into why people buy Valentines Cards?

How?- Skills required (What skills will you acquire? Does the project require further collaboration?

  • Collect qualitative and quantitative data
  • Organisation skills
  • Primary and Secondary data collection
  • Interpreting data skills
  • Photoshop/ illustrator skills
  • Laser cutting skills

Research Methods

Paula Morrison


‘Paula Morison is an inter-disciplinary artist, living and working in the UK.’

‘Practice focuses on the small details and idiosyncrasies (A mode of behaviour or way of thought peculiar to an individual) of everyday life and explores the narratives that surround them.’

‘stories they can hold, the memories they can contain and the emotions they can evoke. They can be treasured by some and discarded by others, and be valuable and worthless, meaningful and meaningless simultaneously.’

“construct meaning from our inexplicable existence’

Shoes is a photography collection of lost and discarded shoes.

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This artist I will find inspiring when it comes to my research. The simplicity of photographs of abandoned shoes left in their environment illustrates stories. The onlooker of these photographs will question why have the shoes been left like that? Who was wearing them?

Narrative is a key trait that I need to research as I have already discovered that the valentines has been previously described as a social chronicle.

The way I would go about researching narrative would be to look at history of particular cards, to see what qualities of sentiment some cards may posses. Historic text may not include images of the cards, so I may need to record the names of certain cards to then try and pin down as examples for my final artefact. Since the cards I will be looking at are mostly none existent I wont be able to take photographs of them in an environment. However, secondary images of the cards by collectors will be enough to express sentiment to the audience.

Moreover, research into current day practice of the Valentines card will be easier to unveil or create narrative. I will be able to take photographs of greetings cards in their environment being made or sold, to demonstrate the lack of feeling they possess. It will compare its once meaningful sentiment status, to the current day frivolous commodity item.

Florent Morellet


This designer uses maps, to illustrate his research for pattern in nature. He creates maps that explore the interaction by first imposing one radical outside influence. He imposes a single interference onto a existing civilisation or geography.

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‘The human race are like coral building their reefs. Everyday, 100,000 die and even more are born. Bits get added or go away. like a reef, the organic structure we inhabit keeps growing or shrinking… and always changing.’

The use of mapping data is an effective way of illustrating numbers our minds cant comprehend. Also, the use of comparison of the human race being coral, gives you the visualisation that we will once day take over the ‘reef’. I may use this research method to map out card stores around a city centre, to illustrate how the convenience of  card shops has a hold over society.

Paul McCarthy/ Keith Arnat 



Both contemporary artist who play with the scale of everyday objects into larger artefacts to act as a statement to the public. They may get us to question the value of the object, which we may not have considered before.

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This research method has lead me onto some interesting ways in which I could utilise this technique, to question the value of the Valentines Card. My fist idea was to first maybe scale up the amount of Valentines day cards sold, and then compare this to another everyday object. As well as this, find out what is the largest ever Valentines card made and the smallest Valentines Card made to compare there values.

Case Study – description/analysis of activity

Ethnography – interpretation of cultural group

Narrative – understanding individual experience

Phenomenology – understanding essence of experience

Experimental – experimenting with selected variables

These areas of research I will consider throughout  my reearch topic.

Social Research Methods- Alan Bryman

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I have distinguished that my subject area of concern is social being the Adult British public. Knowing that that this project is a ‘research project’ I know I have to consider diverse research methodologies.  This book by Alan Bryman is a encyclopaedic introduction to social research methodology. It considers a broad range of qualitative and quantitative methods to help you identify and evaluate the best approach for your research needs. The book acts as a guide to formulate research questions, choose research methods, securing research participants, as well as advice o how to collect, analyse, and interpret data and disseminate findings to others.

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When conducting research, it will be required of me to not only collect secondary research but also primary research. As well as this, I will also need to gather both qualitative and quantitative data, and this book gives me the guidelines to collect this research accurately and professionally to gather quality information.

14. Main Research

In this research, I will find discover qualities that lies beneath the Valentines Day Card but also pin point everything that is wrong with the devotion aiding tool. This will be done using both Primary and Secondary research. I know this due to my Methodology, as certain questions I have identified need answering also need an approbate data collecting skill. An example of this would be ‘Why people buy Valentines Day Cards?’. To my best of knowledge, I couldn’t see the information being accessed in a book or a database. This will require primary research technique utilising the use of a survey to gain the qualitative data information. I will record all my research and data in this blog post.

Previous/ Successful Valentines Cards

As I have discovered from my concept map, a Valentines card is a key part of a cultural tradition to express affection, made possible by a decorative tool that comprises of messages. This tool then forms a personal disclosure, but only in the act of giving to to another human being hoping to receive some kind of reciprocation. My first idea is to find out what makes a successful Valentines Card.

National Valentines Collectors Association


Now in its thirty-eighth year, the purpose of the organization has always been to preserve and communicate the history of this beautiful material, and enable collectors to meet people who share their passionate interest. We encourage the enjoyment of all forms of Valentines, from antique and vintage, to all modern varieties, through informative articles, quarterly auctions, occasional meetings, and related information. In addition to the love and romance incorporated within this subject, it is a great resource for students of art and social history. We invite inquiries, and are happy to provide interviews, articles, exhibitions, and program speakers.

I thought this would be great source to start with for my research, as the association would as I imagine, only retain what they consider as successful or notable pieces. This site features a large archive of Valentines Cards organised into different centuries, mainly requiring to the types of material or craft techniques used. I will look though the archive, and record what material or techniques make for a meaningful  Valentines Card.


The aim of the John Johnson Pinterest site, aims to answer the question of ‘what is the Valntines Card Made of’. The website explains that valentines in the Victoian era were ‘true confections made by hand’ as ‘far from the cruelty of the crude contemporary comic valentines’. Here are examples of innovative card examples which I found represented how Valentines Card should be represented.

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This card stood out to me, as it features a short rhyme which expresses true affection, utilising the train ticket as a symbol to offer an opportunity to take up the gesture by the rhyme. Current time valentines cards do also feature clever rhymes, however these rhymes will be considered distasteful or none-personal due to factors that will be later discussed in this post. This card manages to use the train ticket in a sophisticated manner using simplistic yet limited type, number and semiotics. The ticket nor card is not drowned with thoughtless symbols, yet strategically uses the love heart as the centre piece of the sentiment message. The context of the message I find charming in the fact it carefully balances the use of emotiveness, cleverness and humour. There is a clear indication of heart felt devotion with the examples line of ‘my heart goes with thee’, yet well mannered humour is used in a short phrase under the ticket stating ‘your FIRST CLASS Ticket by good fortune paid.’ This suggests that there needs to be a careful glance with humour and romance when creating a valentines day card. Also, the ticket has the opportunity to be taken off the card, adding to effect go a token gesture. This adds to the whole gesture of the devotion as it almost is a physical piece that contains everything that the card states, making the token sentimental and worth keeping. The positioning of the type has a vague form of structure based around the bottom paragraph, but clearly no strict grid system in use. In this case, I don’t think the main priority of the design was to create an appealing typographic structure, rather fitting in text which obviously feels needs to be included in the card. The type face has been printed, which is appropriate to the theme of true train ticket, due to to tickets being being fashioned in the same manner. However, the type face contrasts with the ticket typeface, to maybe enhance the humour of maybe this ticket has been purchased or made to be actually used. It used bold simplistic text, which is generally used for functionality, yet the actaul card features eccentric style font to be possibly used as decoration. Overall, the cards use of function, emotional balances, simplicity and sophistication make this card effective and meaningful.

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This printed valentine’s card comprising a sheet of folded pink card with serrated edge. . Inside the card is printed a comic valentine’s verse and an applied silver paper spoon. This card is a strong example of being a truly personal card, describing the person in detail as well as nicknaming the receiver. The top right hand corner of the card folds down and has the printed message ‘To a Spooney’. Applied to the front of the card are two crossed spoons, which may symbolises togetherness either ‘spoons as a couple’ or maybe ‘use of spoons between the two human beings.’ This card demonstrates that to be meaningful it doesn’t have to be expensive, nor does it have to be a ‘masterpiece’. Just careful thought about the person the card is designed for, will be enough to make the card meaningful. In my final design, I will have to enforce the fact that the creating of the card can utilise any level of art or language skill, so long as the context of the card is considered of the receiver and carefully executed.

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This example I chose out of originality. This placard has eight rectangular gaps removed from the centre of the card, taking the form of a ladder shape. On each step we see words written ending in ‘tion’.

  • Admiration
  • Flirtation
  • Approbation
  • Declaration
  • Hesitation
  • Agitation
  • Acceptation
  • Solemnization

The ladder starts with admiration and end with Solemnization with everything in-between which demonstrates the hard ship of trying to win a loved one. Again this features light humour, yet romantically high lights the stages the admirer has to go through with sophisticated illustration and typography. This card has cleverly highlighted the proof of efforts made (or will be made) by the sender, that isn’t perceived as gloating rather amusing. This tells me that the Valentines Card shouldn’t boast about efforts made to either create the card or showing affection, as it is designed for the purpose of proving love through willingness to make something special and selfless.

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Love is a VIRTUE that endures for forever. A link of matchlefs JEWELS none can SEVER. They on whofe. Breaft this sacred LOVE doth PLACE shall after DEATH, the fruits there of embrace amongft the many Pleasures, that we prove. None are so real as the joys of LOVE. For this is Love and Worth commending still beginning Never Ending Love….

This Valentines Card features an endless knot of text which describes Love, with a poem inside that describes what love is returning back to the original word. The card is quite interesting in the way it works with the receiver, as you have to engage with the knot rotating the card continuously, which resembles what true love is (continuous following and rotating of the card could symbolise a journey).

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This card looks precise and very delicate. The card has been hand made utilising hand sewing skills, which was a common skill in the Victorian era. I wouldn’t expect that modern society should begin learning how to sew delicate pieces like these, however it is worth considering how much time, effort and skill has been combined to create this valentine card. This suggests that maybe there needs to be an emphasis for experimentation with own craft skills and materials, and not be frightened to try and create something personal.   Below is an example of how little (none) professional sewing skill is needed to produce an aesthetic piece. Its uses plastic buttons crudely placed and sewn together through card to form heart shapes:

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Personally, receiving something that is hand made is far more special than receiving something that is bought is far more exceptional. This will be something I may have to research to find wether society agrees with this statement.

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This cobweb cut paper valentine contains a conceals image, which is only revealed when the user list the top layer which is a decorative butterfly. Underneath lies a image of messenger bird, illustrating the Valentines card being sent with the message ‘go where I wish to be’. This feature isn’t simply for the purpose of looking pretty, but primarily conceals a message to be read last which is considered most emotive. This clever feature I will have to consider in my final piece, as it adds to the anticipation to finish reading the affectionate contents. The process of constructing the card needs to consider the way in which the contents is read, so that the card can maximise its use of creating emotional responses by the reader. Another example of where this can be seen is in the following example, where parts of words are removed and replaced with image. This slows down the processing the affectionate information, making the anti cation of reading and understanding it heightened.

In conclusion all these cards demonstrate what a true sentiment card is, through very diverse techniques used, expense and art craft. I have considered using these examples in my final piece as an indicator to prove that personal cards can be as good quality as mass produced cards today, but also be no where near as elaborate yet still possess sentimental meaning. Society need to be made aware of this, as I have a theory that people are too worried about there art craft skills to make their own cards, as well as possess the general 21st century trait of wanting thing easy and as fast as possible. To prove my theory, I will later devise a questionnaire or Interview questions, that will ask individuals questions of why the feel they can’t make their own Valentines Card as well as why the feel the need to buy a Valentines Card.



Valentine greetings have been popular since the Middle Ages. written valemtines appear after 1400. Paper valentines originated in the 1500s, being exchanged in Europe and being given in place of valentine gifts and oral or musical greetings. The first written valentine (formerly known as “poetical or amorous addessess”) is traditionally attributed to the prisoned Charles, Duke of Orleans, in 1415. While confined in the Tower of London after the Battle of Agincourt, Approximately sixty of the Duke’s poems remain and can be seen among the royal papers in the British Museum. They are credited with being the first modern day valentines.

By the Sixteenth Century, written valentines were commonplace and by the Seventeenth Century, it was a widespread tradition in England and other Western countries for friends and sweethearts to exchange gifts and notes on February 14. During the early 1700s, Charles II of Sweden brought the Persian poetical art known as the “language of flowers” to Europe and throughout the Eighteenth Century, floral dictionaries were published, permitting the exchange of romantic secrets via a lily or lilac, for example, culminating in entire conversations taking place within a bouquet of flowers. The more popular the flower, the more traditions and meaning were associated with it. The red rose, for instance, believed to be the favored flower of Venus, Roman Goddess of Love, became universally accepted to represent romantic love. Thus, the custom of giving red roses on Valentine’s Day quickly gained popularity.

Some time after 1723, the popularity of valentine cards in America began to grow with the import from England of valentine “writers.” A “writer” was a booklet comprised of a vast array of verses and messages which could be copied onto gilt-edged paper or other type of decorative sheet. One popular “writer” contained not only “be my valentine” types of verses for the men to send to their sweethearts, but also acceptances or “answers” which the ladies could then return. Late Eighteenth Century and Early Nineteenth Century valentines were often religious in nature and it is possible that the “Sacred Heart” often depicted on these cards eventually became the “Valentine Heart” with the customarily accompanying Angel eventually becoming “Cupid.” It is believed that the earlier versions of these religious valentines may have been made by nuns who would cut-out the paper lace with scissors. It is thought the process probably took many days since the cards had every appearance of being machine-made.

One popular style of early American card from 1840 to approximately 1860 was the “Daguerreotype,” a photographic process using old-time tintype in the center of a card surrounded by an ornametal wreath. Another was the “Mirror Valentine,” which contained a small mirror placed in the center to reflect the face of the recipient. However, the sending of valentine greetings in America did not become a true tradition until around the time of the Civil War (1861-1865) when valentine cards often depicted sweethearts parting, or a tent with flaps that opened to reveal a soldier. These were known as “windows.” In peace time, the “window” would be a church door opening to reveal a bridge and groom. Another Civil War valentine novelty was for the card to have a place for the sender to include a lock of hair. By the early 1800s, valentines began to be assembled in factories. Such early manufactured valentines were rather simplistic, composed of black-and-white pictures painted by the factory workers. Fancy valentines comprised of real lace and ribbons were introduced in the mid-1800s. Paper lace began to be introduced to the cards later in the 1800s, These valentines also contained delicate and artistic messages with pictures of turtledoves, lovers’ knots in gold or silver, bows and arrow, Cupids and bleeding hearts.

During the Victorian Era and its printing advances, Valentine cards became even more popular and the modern postal service of the age implmented the “penny post,” which made it easier to mail written valentines. (Prior to that time, postage was so expensive that most cards were hand-delivered and usually left on doorsteps.) Known as “penny postcards” (because they were mailed with a one-penny postage stamp), these valentine greetings were very popular from around 1890 to 1917. During this time, it was also considered “proper” to collect and display collections of postcards and trade cards in the Victorian and Edwardian parlor. Friends and guests would be invited to sit for hours, leafing through albums while they visited. This custom gained so much popularity that photographers, studios, printers and business continually strived for new and exciting subjects to satisfy a public which was anxious for innovative items in order to impress their acquaintances. To make their cards stand out, people often sought for real photographic postcards. As opposed to mass-produced lithographs, these were actual photographs made with a postcard-printed back. The photography studios frequently employed women to hand-tint and color the black-and-white images. Some of the best of these cards came from Germany…famous for its detailed and colorful lithography. Popular subjects included women, children, flowers and couples, posed and arranged in an effort to portray the idealized virtues of the Era. Indeed, it was in England that the first commercial-type valentine was produced on embossed paper, later perforated to make a lace-type design. Some of these cards contained tiny mirrors with the message: “Look at my Beloved,” while others were called “Cobweb Valentines” because the center could be lifted by a tassel to reveal a cobweb effect of paper and underneath, a picture of a couple or a romantic message.

Although pre-Victorian valentines are virtually unavailable today, but cards have survived over a century due chiefly to the fact that they began to be mass-produced around 1850. However, the majority of early Victorian valentines were customarily made by hand from honeycombed tissue, watercolors, paper puffs, colored inks, embossed paper hearts and exquisite lace. These were truly beautifully-created small works of art, often adorned with silk or satin (in addition) to lace, flowers or feathers and even gold leaf. Such fragile honeycomb designs remained the vogue until around 1909. Some of the most unusual valentines were fashioned by lonely sailors during this time…unique cards sporting seashells of various sizes employed to create hearts, flowers and other designs, or to cover heart-shaped boxes. Sailors also sent what were known as “Busk Valentines,” rounded long sticks fashioned from ivory or wood, somewhat resembling a tongue depressor but approximately five time longer. Upon these sticks, the sailor would carve hearts and other loving designs. The “Busk Valentine” was worn by the sailor’s sweetheart inside her corset. It was not unusual for a manufactured valentine of this era to cost as much as a month’s earnings, particularly the “proposal valentines” which were very popular and might contain the depiction of a church or a ring. In keeping with Victorian etiquette, it was considered improper for a lady to send a valentine greeting to a man.

There were many different styles of early Victorian valentines, including:


 Acrostic — valentines containing verses in which the first lines spelled-out the loved one’s name. Cutout — valentines made by folding the paper several times and then cutting-out a lacelike design with small sharp-pointed scissors.

 Fraktur — valentines with ornamental lettering in the style of illuminated manuscripts from the Middle Ages.

 Pinprick — valentines made by pricking tiny holes in paper with a pin or needle and thus creating the appearance of lace.

 Theorem or Poonah — valentines with designs which were painted through a stencil cut in oil paper. This particular style originated in the Orient.

 Puzzik or Puzzle Purse — quaint valentines, customarily homemade, which contained a folded puzzle to be read, solved and then refolded. Not only was it necessary to decipher the message, it was also necessary to refold the paper correctly once it was opened. This valentine contained many folds of verses that had to be read in a certain sequence. The order of the verses was usually numbered and the recipient would have to twist the folds in order to determine what had been written.

 Rebus — valentines which contained romantic verses written in ink with certain words omitted and illustrated by tiny pictures instead (the image of an eye would take the place of the word “I,” for example). Meant to be a riddle, these valentines were not always necessarily easy to decipher. The rebus valentine had many forms, but the one mentioned herein was the most common and the most popular.


During the mid-Nineteenth Century, the traditional valentine was designed for a brief period of time to assume the form of money. Known as “love notes,” these cards were eventually banned due to their uncanny likeness to authentic currency. It was around this time that valentines also gradually became rather less artistic and more overly-ornamental. During the “Gay Nineties,” for example, the cards were adorned with garish spun glass, mother-of-pearl, imitation gems or silk fringe. Evidence of the less attractive and what might be considered “cheap-looking” valentine is seen in the “vinegar valentine.” A greeting which ranged in sentiment from the caustic to the comical, the “vinegar valentine” was created by John McLaughlin, a New York printer. It was produced on cheap paper, decorated with crude colors and might contain as message such as:

“Miss Grey hairs and wrinkles, don’t look quite so cold.

Don’t let it surprise you to find yourself old.
The old family record with truth on its page,
Tells a horrible fact about your present age.
Your Pa or your Ma may have said you look young,
Some 20 years since but now you’re among
The ‘old maids’ of this world, without chance for a beau,
For Cupid’s grown gray since he cut you, you know.”
As can be seen, the “vinegar valentine” poked fun at old maids and teachers (among others). Comic designs of the 1870s by the American cartoonist Charles Howard were known as “penny dreadfuls,” a somewhat appropriate title since they sold for a penny and the designs really were quite “dreadful” in nature. Both “vinegar valentines” and “penny dreadfuls” came under close social, religious and postal service scrutiny. The practice also led to a somewhat obscene number of valentines being produced which caused several countries to ban the practice of exchanging cards through the mail for a period of time. For example, in Chicago, late in the Nineteenth Century, the Post Office rejected some 25,000 cards on the grounds that they were “not fit” be carried through the United States Mail.

Commercial valentines were first made during the 1800s with Kate Greenway (1846-1901), a British artist, being one of the leading makers of such greetings. Greenway valentines are well-known for drawings of little children and the varied shades of blues and greens that she favored. In 1840, Esther A. Howland, a student at Mount Holyoke College, mass-produced the first American commercial Valentines. Howland’s father, a stationer in Worcester, Massachussetts, imported valentine cards annually from England. However, Howland decided to create her own valentine messages. Around 1830, she began to import lace, fine papers and other supplies for the creation of her cards. Employing several assistants and her brothers (thus becoming one of the first individuals to ever use an assembly line), Howland marketed her “Worcester” valentines with a distinguishable little red “H” on the back. The first year in business brought Howland an unexpected $5,000.00 in sales (a princely sum at that time) and her cards (some of which sold for $50.00 each) eliminated the laborious task of making homemade valentines. Larger companies followed her lead almost immediately.

During the 1840s, the first “mechanical” valentines were introduced. By pulling a tab, a figure or object on the card could be made to move. Some even had elaborate and dramatic pop-outs or various other three-dimensional features. By the end of the 1800s, valentines were being made entirely by machine. During the early 1900s, a card company called Norcross began to produce valentines and the Hallmark Company owns a collection of rare antique varieties which it will occasionally put on display. The advent of the Twentieth Century truly brought a change in the valentine card industry from the heavy sentimentality of earlier days to what can probably be best described as a “light touch.”

In an of themselves, valentines are closely related to Austrian and German love tokens which were produced until around 1820. Exquisitely-made, these little items were fashioned and colored totally by hand. Not necessarily given on Valentine’s Day, they were neverthless adorned with hearts and images of sweethearts. Many had a transparent net background embossed with gold trimmings. Today, a valentine card is usually accompanied by the more elaborate gifts of candy, flowers and perfume. Nevertheless, Valentine’s Day Cards remain extremely popular and are manufactured on an enormous scale…cards may be purchased for sweethearts, spouses, children, parents, teachers and even pets. In terms of the sheer numbers of greetings sent annually, February 14 ranks second only to Christmas.


Hull Museums have a large collection of Valentine’s Cards and other objects associated with Valentines but where did the tradition originate? The history of Valentine’s Day is surrounded in mystery, though February has always been the month of romance. St Valentine’s Day contains both Christian and ancient Roman tradition.

Who was Valentine?

It is believed that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than married ones he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine realised this injustice and performed secret marriages for young lovers. When Valentine’s actions were discovered Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

It is also believed that Valentine sent his first ‘valentine’ greeting himself. While in prison it is believed that he fell in love with a young girl, daughter of a prison jailor. Before his death, it was suggested that he wrote her a letter, which he signed ‘from your Valentine’; a saying that is used in cards today.

Most of the myths and legends show Valentine as sympathetic, heroic and a romantic figure. By the Middle Ages Valentine was one of the most popular saints in England and France.

Smallest and Largest Valentines Card



Even though these cards are completely opposite scales, as a designer I think these cards still share the same value. This suggests  that ‘size does not matter’ in this case.

Case Study- Observing Time taken of individuals purchasing Greeting Cards. 

Stemmed from my analysis of successful greeting cards, as well as researching into the history of greetings cards, I considered that the time spent to obtain a greetings card has dramatically fallen since the mid 19th Century. To prove this theory I designed a case study to observe the time taken to choose a greeting card (not the season for valentines cards). My study took place in Hallmark store in Sheffield City centre, which timed 30 potential customers from entering the store to purchasing their final greeting card.

Consideration taken when observing-

This case study will be a covert observation conducted by myself, the researcher. The participants will be unaware they are taking part in the study as this may effect valid findings and will avoid demand characteristics. I am aware researcher bias could occur therefore I will stand metres away from the customer and dress in a casual manner and discreetly observe. This will ensure I have no influence on the customers decision making and effect findings. The study is considered unethical, due to no informed consent and deception. However if participants were made aware they were taking part in a study based on the decision making process in choosing a card, this would inevitably increase self-awareness and time due to demand characteristics. As well as this, I will have to tally missing data due to individuals that may not purchase a card due to undisclosed reasons. Lastly, the study is used as a generalisation as the season is not right to conduct a Valentines card Study, hence other greetings cards are used as an indicator.

Observation results

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The results showed that only two participants left the store without purchasing a card. These customers more than likely used another store to find a more appropriate or card or cheaper store. The average time spent for customers to buy a card was 209 seconds. This recorded time compared with the time spent making cards in the Victorian era (which was reportedly days) demonstrates a lack of thought and effort. This time will be an important figure to illustrate in my booklet to shock the reader.

Interview- JD 14/04/1964 (Team leader CSR)

To get some insight into the business of Valentines Cards, I managed to arrange an interview with n who a team leader saleswoman who works at Riverside Cards (who have a very good reputation and are the leading consignment supplier in the convenience sector). After reading social research method books, confidentiality became a clear ethical consideration when conducting interviews. Bryman (2012) stated confidentiality must be ensured for the participants safety. Therefore I have assigned a code to the participants name using their initials. This will ensure the participant is unidentifiable to other individuals and is likely to increase the depth of information the participant will respond with.

Me: How many customers do you have for Valentines Cards?

JDI have 300 customers without new one coming along. I look at what each customer sold last year and add 10%. We sell into the thousands just in my area

 Me: How are smaller card business holding out compared to larger brand stores?

JD: The smaller shops are finding it very hard out there. More supermarkets like Tescos are opening affecting sales.

Me: Do you believe that Valentines Cards still poses some sort of meaning since the before the mid 19th century?

JD: I wouldn’t actually know as I have never looked into what Valentines Cards used too look like. However, I can imagine that they look quite delicate and intricate as they weren’t mass produced. I believe that in the 21st century, we are naturally going to find quicker solutions for all walk of life.

Me: Do business consider that there Valentines cards may have impact on peoples relations?

JD: Yes I do, however not to the extent that each card is designed to devote a individual message for each couple out there. They design cards that are clever and meaningful, yet can be used by a vast amount of people.

Me: So what you are saying is mass produced Valentines Cards are not truly personal?

JD: Yes, but as a company you have to expect versatile designs.

In conclusion from the interview, business don’t really consider producing personal cards on the same level of sentiment that hand made cards possessed in the Victorian era. Smaller businesses who sell cards that are more likely to be individual, are becoming as none existent as the hand made cards. This is simply down to designs for the masses which will in turn produce a better profit margin. Society today want things as undemanding and fast as possible, and purchasing from mass producing giants such as Hallmark accommodate for this. The commodity of Valentines Cards has grown so much, that there is also a constant need to develop quicker and easier ways to obtain the approbate card. This frivolous development may lead to the Valentines losing all meaning entirely.

In current Western cultured society, the practice of obtaining and delivering Valentines Card has somehow lost all real meaning of being a tool that devotes meaningful affection. Choosing a card for a loved one comes down to 3 main factors which include appropriateness, connivence and price. Here are a few examples, demonstrating these 3 main practices when it comes to choosing a Valentines Card.

Online- Connivence

Hallmarks website features a large amount of mass produced cards as well as an option to ‘create you own’. This is a the best example of cards being a ‘connivence’. You simply don’t even have to leave your house, you can simply get them delivered starlight to where you want desired. Below is a step by step example of how a card can be purchased on the Hallmark website.

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Main menu

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Search bar- Valentines Cards

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Search results: card examples given/ refined search options e.g. who’s it for?, sort by?

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Chosen card: Features Title, Zoom (inside + outside), Typing section for personal greetings, price, share feature

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Personalisation: Name, walkthrough sections to complete inside message

This step my step process is a very quick procedure that took me no longer than five minutes to complete. It requires no physical input as all the making and messaging are done for you. When making this card it it did not reflect any heart felt incentive of making a valences card, instead  felt like I was filling out a form for something that was every day. The term ‘personalise’ which the website uses could be seen as crude, compared to personalisation used in the Victorian era. For my final piece I have considered using screen shots of the fill out sections of the personalised card website, to compare them to the likes of photographs illustrating hand craft card making. This will hopefully demonstrate the thoughtfulness and effort that personalised cards can demonstrate.

Competition- Price

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This suggests that card companies make these deals to entice customers to buy there cards, as company’s know through there own market research that price plays a big part for a customer choose  a card. My theory is that since cards have lost all sentimental value, cards must have a set price in which society believe they should pay for a card . A true sentiment card should be priceless, yet we can safely say the valentines card is a commodity item, which requires competitive process for business to buy into the product. This will lead me to ask the question to society of ‘how much would you be willing to pay for a Valentines Card?’

Appropriateness- Clever humour 

When researching into this category I had to use internet based resources as the season wasn’t right to search for in store Valentines Cards. Sites like Hallmark and Moon-pig feature all seasonal cards no matter what tine of the year it is. Here are some examples of humorous cards which simply possess no meaning, however are used for cheap laughs.


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These cards are an example of meaningless cards. They feature leaders (some with considerable politicly incorrect views) who have no connection with love or valentines day, used as ‘humorous’ puns. This is a perfect sample of how clever puns are used to create a short laugh, yet have in no way shape or form have any impact on the receiver feeling any emotion for the sender. This makes me question why society put up with these kinds of cards in circulation. Has valentines day itself become more of a joke holiday, rather than as serious day to express affection. This has lead onto a question I will ask in my future questionnaire of ‘what tone of card would you expect to receive on Valentines day? Also ask the question ‘What tone of card would you like to receive on Valentines Day?

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This card is another demonstration of no real sentiment, yet does spark an emotion from the reader, but has no significant impact of affection. This card features the phrase ‘You Valentines Day forecast is…mostly kisses with scattered hugs.’ This sentence has no real impact on its own. However, with the addition of a ‘cute’ illustration of bears stood hugging under an umbrella, the sentence then becomes a frivolous sugar coated message. Using anthropomorphism is a lazy technique to cover up the thoughtlessness in the message, which is considerably a cruel use of the Valentines Card. This has lead onto another observation of counting how many Valentines Cards feature animals using human mannerisms. This will have to be done using the Hallmark website, as previously mentioned it is no the correct season for Valentines Cards to be in-store. If the percentage number is high, this will illustrate how many frivolous Valentines Cards are out there.

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In addition, current valentines cards have a tendency to overuse semiotics. As a designer, I already know that brands and advertising employs this practice, to create a desired connection with the consumer. Kiran Manral from TAC (the advertising club) states that ‘advertiser semiotics works by helping them put in subtle cues that attract the target audience towards the brand, product or the service.’ Critically, this practice being the same says a lot about Valentines Cards. Its possibly designed more for the consumer of the card, rather than the actual person the card is intended to be sent to. In actuality, we could label the practice of society choosing cards from a store somewhat unknowingly selfish. Even though customers do consider who the card will be sent to, they also subconsciously consider what card they want through advertising techniques employed by the card companies. This has lead me onto another research finding to put in my final book. I want to find a Valentines Card that that shares similar use of semiotics as a advertisement, to illustrate that how much of a commodity the Valentines Card is. This will get my audience to question the difference between a current Valentines Card and a company brand advertisement.



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The comparisons speak for themselves, with the fact both advertisement and the cards both share the same humour. Yet its impossible to question why the cards hold any sort of sentiment compared to the advertisements. This comparison of cards and advertising utilising the same clever techniques is an important insight into the Valentines Card that needs to be included in my final artefact.

Mapping where Valentines can be sold

In my research and to my best of knowledge, I know that Valentines Cards can be sold in a variety of shops as obvious as greeting Card stores to the not so obvious petrol stations. To obtain a Valentines card I have discovered in the 21st century is easier tan ever, which my map will prove further. This lead me onto the innovative research decision of mapping out every store in a town centre that would sell Valentines Cards. I decided to use Sheffield city centre as my area to research within. This research may unveil some new or interesting stores that sell these cards. As I know the city centre well I made the research decision to discount some roads to research, knowing they are uninhabited with stores. This technique I have considered using due to the awareness of Florent Morellets workings. Maybe I can use this map to illustrate the overpopulated expose to stores that sell Valneintes.  the  Below is the mapped results which feature all the stores located on the map that sell greetings cards:


Reflecting over the data I have collected, the map declared that there was a resounding 39 places in which you could purchase a greeting card in the city centre. This exposure to sales of greeting cards clearly demonstrates the need of society to purchase them.  This number also made me consider how much material is being used for Valentines Cards, as well as how much profit is made from Valentines Cards. As for discovering a new found type of store to purchase a greetings card, nothing out the ordinary came apparent.

The process of using this research technique I found was too time consuming for the quality of data gathered from it, and the time allocated to complete the project. However, the research findings weren’t a total failure, as this lead me onto other research areas.

Manufacture of Greetings Cards



  • Graphic design file is submitted to a commercial printer
  • File is converted onto an aluminium plate
  • An aluminium plate is designated for each colour of that file (Cyan Magenta Yellow Black)
  • Multiple cards a layer upon each sheet
  • Plates are taken to a commercial printing press (6 colour offset printing press)
  • Each plate is loaded in separately by colour
  • Ink is loaded into each separate unit
  • Press is turned on
  • Sheets are fed through the feeding unit at a speed of 15,000 sheets an hour
  • The press operator test every thousandth sheet for printing quality
  • Once sheets are printed they are taken to an industrial guillotine press cutter
  • Sheets are then ran through a folding slitting machine at a speed of 30,000 cards an hour

When watching this video after the research I’ve completed, the numbers of the cards produced can be seen as monstrous compared to the thoughtfulness of producing a unique card for that special someone. Watching the conveyor belt  produce that many cards, instantly made me think of the use of Paula Morrison’s use of imagery to demonstrate narrative through items in their environment. When watching the conveyor belt I did not think these cards were sentimental, I thought they shares the same quality as printing money. Mass- produced cards goes completely against what the Valentines Card should be designed for. As an illustration for my booklet, I think the idea of drawing or obtaining a photograph of conveyor belt printing money would be a provoking image for my audience to question the cards value in terms of sentiment. As well as this, I will photograph images of cards placed in the environment of where they are sold.

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photo 1 copy photo 2 copy photo 3 copy

Global use of Valentines Cards

Through previous research made on Valentines Day earlier in the project, I do know which countries do and do not celebrate valentines day. I will now have to solely research research as to which countries use Valentines Cards.

Counties that do use the Valentines Card-

  • Great Britain
  • America
  • Australia
  • Italy
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Spain
  • Greece
  • Philippines
  • Singapore
  • Romania
  • Portugal

Countries that celebrate Valentines but don’t use cards.

  • China- ‘On Chinese Valentine’s Day, people often send “巧克力(qiăokèlì) chocolate” as Valentines day gift . Different chocolates represent different meanings. For instance, the heart-shaped chocolate stands for “My heart belongs to you,” and black chocolate stands for “Stick together through thick and thin.” Meanwhile on the Chinese Valentines Day, “玫瑰花(méiguī huā) rose” is an essential gift.’
  • Japan- ‘Unlike the West, sending a Valentine’s cards is not common in Japan, and the phrase “Happy Valentines” is not widely used. “Happy Birthday” and “Happy New Year” are common phrases. In this case, “Happy ~” is translated as “omedeteu (~おめでとう).”Speaking of love, which colour do you think is the color of love? Many people would probably say it is red. Heart shapes are usually red, and red roses are romantic gifts. Red can also represent passion, revolution, fire, blood and so on.’
  • Korea- ‘The Valentine’s Day tradition in Korea is similar to that of Japan. On February 14th many young women give candies to their boyfriend, and on March 14th their boyfriends buy them chocolate. However, the young people who didn’t have a girlfriend or boyfriend in February or March get to celebrate their own day on April 14th. On this special day, called ‘Black Day’, young singles sit with their friends, who are in the same situation, and eat jajang noodles, which are black. This ensures that everyone has a day to celebrate.’
  • India- ‘Valentine’s Day celebrations did not catch on in India until around 1992. It was spread due to the programs in commercial TV channels, such as MTV, dedicated radio programs and love letter competitions, in addition to an economical liberalization that allowed the explosion of the valentine card industry. traditionalists have considered the holiday to be cultural contamination from the West, a result of the globalization in India. espite these obstacles, Valentine’s Day is becoming increasingly popular in India.’

Conflict with Valentines Cards

  • Iran- In 2011, the Iranian printing works owners’ union issued a directive banning the printing and distribution of any goods promoting the holiday, including Cards, gifts and teddy bears
  • Malaysia- Islamic officials in Malaysia warned Muslims against celebrating Valentine’s Day, linking it with vice activities.
  • Pakistan- The Jamaat-e-Islami political party has called for the banning of Valentine’s Day celebration.
  • Saudi Arabia- in 2002 and 2008, religious police banned the sale of all Valentine’s Day items, telling shop workers to remove any red items, because the day is considered a Christian holiday. In 2014, religious police in Saudi Arabia arrested five men for celebrating St. Valentine’s Day “in the company” of six women. The Buraidah criminal court pronounced sentences totaling 32 years of imprisonment and 4,500 lashes to the men.

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Gay community


The argument is made that gay people can only buy Valentines Cards that utilise the use of anthropomorphism.

This is how gays browse for Valentine’s Day, birthday, wedding, or anniversary greetings. We walk into Walgreens or Target, ignore just about any card that shows pictures of actual humans or that declare love to a “husband” or “wife,” because inevitably the language, and probably the imagery too, will be positively hetero. Instead, we find cards with mutually enamored, anthropomorphic animals and ascertain they aren’t drawn to imply gender. Or, alternatively, we go schlocky because a crude cliché about one’s age or a knowing joke about the banality of a long-term relationship really knows no sexual orientation.

Reading this has opened my target audience to which my book is aimed for. I have not considered that the sexual orientation of Valentines Cards are strictly designed for hetro sexual society. This reflects that the current mass produced valentines card is designed to make money, as their is not a large market for gay Valentines. However, this only encourages gay people to make their own Valentines which my book aims to provoke.

Valentines by numbers

Here I wanted to find some statistics on Valentines Day to gain some quantitative data.

A-Z Databases

This demonstrates I have considered using the library gateway for data on Valentines Cards, however did not receive any results from the following searchers. This has led me to use other sources for data.

  • Valentines Profit
  • Greetings Cards
  • Hallmark

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Google scholar