“The one who stole my heart” spelled out in artfully scrolling Punjabi script, and "Our love goes both ways" in a picture of two people standing by a traffic sign that points in two directions: these are just some of the cliche-breaking Valentine's Day cards local artists have created as part of a new project.
London Drugs commissioned the collection of 31 designs to represent a wider variety of people in the greeting-card aisle--regardless of the language they speak, how they identify, or their sexual orientation. All proceeds from the Cards for All project will go to United Way community initiatives in Western Canada.
The offerings don't just represent every facet of the LGBTQ spectrum, but reflect common-law and open relationships, and even nonromantic greetings—cards for a coworker, a single friend, or a roommate. There are also new cards in Chinese, Farsi, Punjabi, Tagalog, and Braille.
Many of the Vancouver illustrators on the project have a deep connection to the community they capture in their creations. Here are some of the heartwarming sentiments from the local artists behind the cards, with the not-so-run-of-the-mill greetings they put on their designs:
Karla Monterrosa - “To a very special gal, from a very lucky lady.”
“I'm a hopeless romantic and I think Valentine's Day is such a fun day to celebrate the people we care about with a little extra candy and cute cards. I grew up in El Salvador, where Valentine's Day is also known as Friendship Day; so I associate it with spending time with friends and not just romantic partners. Building strong and loving families is a key part of queer identities. In my case, my chosen family is mostly made up of folks who are also immigrants and don't get to see our families of origin very often. I'm so proud of the traditions we've built, our loving bonds, and our unwavering support of each other. “
Izzy Gibson - “Our love goes both ways”
”As someone who has been openly bisexual since my teens I have seen how the world has changed and is becoming more open to all forms of love. It's important to embrace love. That was my inspiration for the card. That love is like a two way street. Hate and intolerance just makes it feel more like sitting in a traffic jam. There's always more room in the world for more kindness.”
Cristian Fowlie – “Who has two thumbs and the best boyfriend ever?”
“I was excited to be a part of the Valentine’s Day Cards for All project because it is inclusive of so many different types of relationships. Love can take many forms but we don’t always see them all represented in our culture. I hope that my card, and the other cards in this line, can help others feel seen and celebrated in their unique kind of love. I chose my card because I’m gay and about to celebrate 5 amazing years with my boyfriend. Our anniversary is two days before Valentine’s day, so I’m looking forward to giving him my own specially designed card. “
Mustaali Raj – “The one who stole my heart” in Punjabi
“It was an opportunity to represent an aspect of the cultural diversity of Canada by disrupting the usual narrative of Valentine’s day. Having a connection to the South-Asian Canadian diaspora, projects like this, mean leaps and bounds in the right direction towards inclusivity. It was also important for me to enhance the subtleties within the Punjabi culture itself. Punjabi language is phonetically similar but written in two different scripts, Shahmukhi in the Pakistan part of Punjab and Gurmukhi in India. My design attempts to integrate the two scripts seamlessly like the rhythm of its sounds.”
Wade Janzen – “YOU are my preferred pronoun.”
“Whether it’s for friends or my sweetheart, Valentine’s Day cards are always tough for me to find. Most often I go with something that doesn’t have people in it. Cute animals or cheeky food illustrations. When I thought more about it, I realized that sometimes these types of substitutions aren’t enough. I identify as trans. I was also heavily into drag some years back. My dearest friends are LGBTQ2S+. I wanted two people approaching each other with respect and care, but also, desire. There’s a direct film reference I’ve included to remind us that we don’t always find love in the places we expect."
You can seek out the cards at London Drugs locations including Granville and Georgia, West Broadway, Robson Street, 41st and Victoria, Wessex Kingsway, Hastings & Abbott, Vancouver House, and Davie Street.