12 Christmas Cards Sure to Geek Up Your Holiday Spirit

It might be a little late to order Christmas cards to send out to your friends and family, but you’ve still got plenty of time to enjoy the great art and creativity in some of the geekiest holiday cards out there.

1. Phone Home

This card is not only high tech, but it also just might be the most expensive card out there (at least, the most expensive not adorned in precious jewels). Surprisingly, the price isn’t due to a mark up—this is a DIY card design. The price instead comes from the iPhone nestled inside the card. Sure, you might not want to send one of these to your dentist, but it would be one heck of a way to present an iPhone if you already planned on giving one as a gift anyway.

2. Playing Games

Instructables user bradsprojects created another interactive, tech-based, DIY card, only this one won’t break the bank if you make one for more than a few people. The video game is pretty rudimentary, but any fan of old school games will still appreciate the classic appeal of moving a dot to avoid obstacles.

3. Godzilla's Anatomy

If you love both anatomy and Godzilla, then you’ll certainly appreciate these cards by artist Brad McGinty. Of course, if you prefer great fiction stories, then you’ll love the tale Brad created to help sell these delightful designs:

A few years after my Grandfather returned from the war he decided to start a greeting card company. Armed with one terrible idea and no artistic ability whatsoever, he turned to someone he had met during the war for help, a young Japanese solider he had shot in the face named Haruo. My grandfather spoke no Japanese, and Haruo spoke no English, so how they actually got together is beyond me or anyone else in my family. The idea involved creating American-style greeting cards for both the Japanese and the American markets.

Even if you have no interest in buying the cards, it’s worth reading the rest of the story over at his site.

4. Grumpy Card

Only a few short months ago, Grumpy Cat stole the internet’s heart with her permanently sour scowl. Her owner has since created a website so she can share her cat's delightful expressions with the world. To help support her kitties, she added a shop that included these great Christmas cards. Unfortunately, they’re already sold out, but maybe you die-hard Tard fans will have better luck getting cards with your favorite grumpy kitten next year.

5. It Must Be Italian

It’s rare for a family photo holiday card to end up this amazingly geeky, but Amanda Earles of Candid Moments Studios managed to bring A Christmas Story to life in her fantastic family photo card this year.

6. The Most Beautiful Card in the Room

Any Flight of the Concords fan will recognize the great “present” pun in this card, showing one of the band’s famous meetings. Creator Elliot Quince did such a great job with the card that Rhys Darby, aka Murray Hewitt, even tweeted the card to his followers.

7. Call the Doctor

I don’t know what the Doctor did to this Dalek to get him to serve cocktails, but whatever the plotline behind this Doctor Who Christmas special, I want to know the whole story. If you like the art and humor of these cards, but you aren’t really a Whovian, don’t worry: artist AliciaMB has also created Christmas cards themed after Star Wars, The Avengers, The Hunger Games, and more.

8. Nice Nose

Chewy the Red Nosed Wookie might not be as famous as Rudolph the Reindeer, but he’d do a lot better when it comes to helping you guide a Millennium Falcon across an asteroid belt. Of course, Etsy seller CastleMcQuade has plenty of other geeky holiday cards available for those who aren’t too into Star Wars (including a fantastic It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia design) as well as plenty of other Star Wars Christmas cards.

9. Hoth-Hoth-Hoth

For a more classic holiday card look with a Star Wars twist, look no further than these Hoth-y Holiday cards by Etsy seller Mike Goes Geek that depicts a classic Hoth scene in the iconic Rankin/Bass claymation style.

10. Left 4Christmas

If you simply loved Left 4Dead 2, then share that adoration with those closest to you with these adorable cards designed by artist Alexandria Neonakis and available in the Valve Store.

11. Sea Unicorn

Everyone loves narwhals—after all, they are like unicorns of the sea, and with this great holiday card by Etsy seller castornpollux, you get to see how the rare, majestic creature likes to decorate for Christmas.

12. Venn Out

Is any list of geekery truly complete without a Venn diagram? If you answered “no” with a resounding decisiveness, then you’ll certainly love these Venn diagram cards by Etsy seller BisforBrown that depict “what we wish you” this holiday season.

If you happened to order or send out any geeky holiday cards this year, tell us about them in the comments, or even better, share the pictures with us!

For 12-12-12, we’ll be posting twenty-four '12 lists' throughout the day. Check back 12 minutes after every hour for the latest installment, or see them all here.


The Simple Optical Illusion That Makes an Image Look Like It's Drawing Itself

Artist James Nolan Gandy invents robot arms that sketch intricate mathematical shapes with pen and paper. When viewed in real time, the effect is impressive. But it becomes even more so when the videos are sped up in a timelapse. If you look closely in the video below, the illustration appears to materialize faster than the robot can put the design to paper. Gizmodo recently explained how the illusion works to make it look like parts of the sketch are forming before the machine has time to draw them.

The optical illusion isn’t an example of tricky image editing: It’s the result of something called the wagon wheel effect. You can observe this in a car wheel accelerating down the highway or in propeller blades lifting up a helicopter. If an object makes enough rotations per second, it can appear to slow down, move backwards, or even stand still.

This is especially apparent on film. Every “moving image” we see on a screen is an illusion caused by the brain filling in the gaps between a sequence of still images. In the case of the timelapse video below, the camera captured the right amount of images, in the right order, to depict the pen as moving more slowly than it did in real life. But unlike the pen, the drawing formed throughout the video isn't subject to the wagon-wheel effect, so it still appears to move at full speed. This difference makes it look like the sketch is drawing itself, no pen required.

Gandy frequently shares behind-the-scenes videos of his mechanical art on his Instagram page. You can check out some of his non-timelapse clips like the one below to better understand how his machines work, then visit his website to browse and purchase the art made by his 'bots.

And if you think his stuff is impressive, make sure to explore some of the incredible art robots have made in the past.

[h/t Gizmodo]

Tessa Angus
Surprising Sculptures Made From Fallen Feathers
Kate MccGwire, Orchis, 2012
Kate MccGwire, Orchis, 2012
Tessa Angus

Kate MccGwire is a British sculptor with an unusual medium: feathers. Her surreal, undulating works often take the form of installations—the feathers spilling out of a drain, a stove, a crypt wall—or stand-alone sculptures in which antique bell jars, cabinets, or trunks contain otherworldly shapes.

MccGwire developed her obsession with feathers after moving to a studio barge on the Thames in 2006, as she explains in a video from recently spotlighted by Boing Boing. The barge was near a large shed full of feral pigeons, whose feathers she would spot on her way to work. "I started picking them up and laying them out, collecting them," she remembers. "And after about two weeks I had like 300 feathers." At the time, concerns about bird flu were rife, which made the feathers seem "dangerous as well as beautiful."

When not supplied by her own next-door menagerie, the feathers for her artwork come from a network of racing pigeon societies all over the UK, who send her envelopes full every time the birds molt. Farmers and gamekeepers also send her fallen feathers from birds such as magpies, pheasants, and roosters.

The cultural associations around birds are a big part of what inspires MccGwire. “The dove is the symbol of peace, purity, and fertility," she told ArtNews in 2013, "but it’s exactly the same species as a pigeon—which everyone regards as being dirty, foul, a pest.”

The same duality is present in her own work, which she frequently shares on her Instagram account. “I want to seduce by what I do—but revolt in equal measure. It’s really important to me that you’ve got that rejection of things you think you know for sure.”

You can see some pictures of MccGwire's work, and watch the video from, below.

Kate MccGwire's installation "Evacuate"
Evacuate, 2010
J Wilde

Kate MccGwire's sculpture "Convolous"
Convolous, 2015
JP Bland

Kate MccGwire's installation "Gyre"
Gyre, 2012
Tessa Angus

Kate MccGwire's sculpture "Gag"
Gag, 2009
JP Bland

Kate MccGwire's sculpture "Writhe"
Writhe, 2010
Tessa Angus

Kate MccGwire's sculpture "Quell"
Quell, 2011
Tessa Angus

Kate MccGwire's sculpture "Taunt"
Taunt, 2012
Tessa Angus


More from mental floss studios