Designer Marian Bantjes cuts to the heart of Christmas.

Graphic artist/designer extraordinaire Marian Bantjes is renowned for her lush, intricate design work. I know her for her ornate, swashy typographical treatments, especially the work she did for department chain Saks Fifth Avenue in a past Christmas campaign. Well apparently Christmas is never too far from her mind, and last Valentine’s Day she created a series of Valentine Hearts out of recycled Christmas cards. And since today, April 22nd, is Earth Day, it’s a perfect time to feature a post about recycling.

Of course, Christmas and Valentine’s Day are both long past. But good design is good anytime, and from concept to execution, these hearts are exceptional. After receiving and sorting many old holiday cards from friends, Bantjes had them laser cut into a delicate, filigreed form replete with more hearts, cupids and scalloped edges. The shape of the final cut work is interesting enough to begin with, but with the random Christmas motifs showing through the lace-like structure, each piece became truly unique.

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It’s quite fun to see how some of the Christmas themes work their way through the cut out form, as it adds an element of discovery, as well as a play of depth and perception. Do you see the winged putti forms flapping in front of a fireplace, or is the entire heart like some elaborate grilled window that allows you to peer into a wintery wonderland behind it? And how does knowing that it was a Christmas card affect your view of it for Valentine’s Day? Do you go so far as to imagine what the recipient of the original card read on it before it became something else entirely, for a totally different holiday? With so many layers to the work, these hearts become much more than Valentine’s Day greetings and wend their way towards an experience that’s closer to art.

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Bantjes made about 500 cards, and writes on her website that she had a hard time giving them away as she got very attached to the different pieces. I can see that happening, with the serendipitous nature of the recycling process. As a concept and en masse they make quite an impression, as you can see in the ‘group shot’ below. But what’s really engaging about them is that individually, each piece had a different story to tell.


For more of Marian Bantjes’ work, you can visit her website at bantjes.com. You can see more of her Christmas Card Valentine’s Day project here.

If you have any questions, comments or other feedback about The Tear Sheet, be sure to let us know by emailing us at thetearsheet@katespaperie.com.

George G., Creative Director At Large, is a New York-based art director whose work spans everything from store display to interactive media. Also an accomplished artist, his illustrations have been published and exhibited in various galleries in New York. Being a self-professed design junkie, he is constantly on the lookout for what’s new and fresh in the worlds of art and design.

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